Easter weekend, 2016, saw the University of Birmingham’s Korfball second and third team travel to Sheffield to take part in the BUCS trophy finals. A massive achievement for the seconds who were hopeful of a medal, but it was an even bigger effort for the thirds to qualify– being the only third team competing in the trophy finals! Read below how the Korfballers got on in the trophy, from one of their very own players!
Saturday saw both teams play opponents in the group stages. Our 3s comfortably won their first couple of matches, playing with strong offense and defence, which took them to victories over Essex 1s and Southampton 2s, with scores of 10-5 and 14-4 respectively.
Our 3s were then put against the top seed of their group- Edinburgh University 1s. To say that this was a tight, tense match would be an understatement. Both teams traded goal for goal until Edinburgh pulled ahead at 5-4. Birmingham retaliated with two goals in quick succession to make it 6-5. But a successful penalty from an Edinburgh player with previous International experience meant the game ended 6-6. The decision was made for the game to be decided on previous goal differences meaning that Edinburgh was crowned the victors with a goal difference of + 2. A decision which was understandably, not met with much enthusiasm from the Birmingham side after they had played so far above their usual level in such a close game.
Meanwhile the 2s were claiming victory after victory in the group stages. The 2s appeared unstoppable in their early games as they cruised to wins against Cardiff, and against the University of East Anglia, with scores of 14-5 and 12-4 respectively, as well as beating Manchester University 10-5.
The day ended with both the Birmingham teams being put against each other. The two teams were evenly matched, resulting in a very tense, close game. The 2s made the most of penalties being awarded to them and clocked up quite a few goals from these. The 3s played incredibly well with Quy commenting “it was very tense before, during and after the game”. The 2s experience led to them steaming ahead and through strong teamwork ended the game 10-5 to the 2s.
Meaning the 3’s would battle it for fifth to eighth place the next day. But the 2’s were through to the semi-finals! They would play for 1st to 4th place the next day with medals within reach.
Both teams arrived on Sunday well rested and ready to fight for the highest ranking they could. The first game of the days was Brum 3s vs Lancaster University. Unfortunately despite a strong start from Brum, it was Lancaster who took an early lead, with both teams showing strength in defence early on. George Saville claimed the first goal for Birmingham with an incredible long shot, just before the first half ended. The second half began and Lancaster began to extend their lead with some impressive long shots. Birmingham’s Warner was bought on and immediately began his specialty long shots, but his efforts were in vain as the game ended 9-4 to Lancaster. The Birmingham side were perhaps unlucky not to have more of their shots drop, to make the score closer.
The 3s went on to battle for seventh and eighth place against Manchester University- a team our 2s had previously beaten. And it appeared Birmingham were back on form with Smith claiming the first two goals in quick succession. The support on the side-line went wild as Warner sank a goal from the halfway line. And a successful free pass from Saville combined with some lovely girl- korf from Hawkins and Mansfield meant the half time score was 6-1 to Brum.
More of the same in the second half meant the game ended 9-4 to Brum! There were calls of ‘Brum domination’ heard from the sidelines as our 3s placed a very respectable seventh in the BUCS trophy. A hugely successful result when put into perspective that they placed 12 places higher than the next 3rd team!
The 2s first game on the Sunday was against Sheffield University’s first team. A team picked as many pundit’s favourites to win the trophy after narrowly missed out on qualifying for the national championships. However, Birmingham’s 2s went into this game on good form and carried confidence from their previous results into this game. After an incredibly fast start Birmingham found themselves 2-0 up after a lovely shot from under the post by Hutchinson. After penalties from Rayit and Captain Rendle the score stood at 4-2. But despite Sheffield’s best efforts they were unable to overcome this lead and Birmingham eventually won 7-5! Meaning the 2s were through to the final, with a medal guaranteed and BUCS gold in their sights.
The final was the last game of the weekend. Tension had been building and nerves were high in anticipation of this game for everyone involved in the Birmingham club. Exeter University were the only thing standing between the 2s and BUCS gold.
Birmingham started the game strongly with a powerful long shot from Marsh giving them an early lead. But it was an unbelievably tight game and each team began to score goals regularly, and with so much at stake, penalties were being given to both sides. With the scores tied at 4-4, Exeter began to pull away, making it 8-5 after a couple of well executed long shots. After some intense defence from Brum, they rallied and retaliated with some impressive goals from Longstone and Rayit. 8-7 to Exeter. Birmingham did briefly draw level at this stage but Exeter struck back in this topsy-turvy encounter to lead again at 10-8.
With less than three minutes to go and the score at 10-8 to Exeter it looked like the Southeners had gold in the bag. But, the next two and a half minutes witnessed one of the biggest comebacks in University Korfball history from Birmingham. Rayit scored yet another successful penalty, cutting Exeter’s lead to just one point. With the ball back in Brum’s possession Nicholls leapt out from under the post scoring a lovely goal to make it 10-10. The Brum 2s were fighting back, the Exeter players were looking worried and the crowd loved every second.
With nine seconds to go until penalties would decide the winners, the referee blew his whistle. A free pass had been awarded to Brum, this could seal Birmingham’s fate. Longstone stepped forward to take the free pass. There was a lot of pressure riding on both the pass and the shot going well, a BUCS trophy gold hung in the balance after all. Another whistle, and Longstone hopped back before shooting. GOAL!!! Birmingham took an 11-10 lead with literally seconds remaining, after a brief interlude were the Birmingham spectators had to be settled down, the final whistle went. Birmingham 2s had won BUCS trophy gold!
This was a hugely proud weekend for our club. We had come away with 7th place for our 3rd team- the most successful 3rd team in the country. And the 2s had come away with gold. Many players were so overjoyed with their win they refused to take their medals off (cough cough Rendle, Quy and Kelly!).
This result carries on UoB’s gold medal winning streak; a gold BUCS medal each year for the past four years. A spokesperson for the University of Korfball club said “It truly is phenomenal how our club is doing at the moment and we cannot wait to see what next year holds!”
2nd team captain, Ben Rendle- “This was literally the best Korfball I’ve ever seen. Everyone played phenomenally all weekend- I love these guys.”
3rd team captain, Oliver Saville- “The 3s did amazing this weekend coming 7th in a tournament filled by only 1st and 2nd teams. It just shows how much potential the team has being filled by 7 new players to Korfball this year!”