Friday, 26 October 2007

A very long night

“That's what learning is, after all; not whether we lose the game, but how we lose and how we've changed because of it and what we take away from it that we never had before, to apply to other games.” Richard Bach

There’s no escaping it, this was the biggest beating I’ve ever been on the end of, but I’ve felt far worse about much better scorelines before now.

We lost to Wirral Hornets by a whopping 128-48! But let’s be clear, these guys are 'National League' good and we knew before we started that it was going to be a long night.

When you’re playing against a much better side, the first few minutes hit you like a rush of cold water in the face as they race away and rack up the points. It's not pleasant. But then things settle down, you get into a rhythm and then you have a chance to take stock of what’s going on around you.

As we came into the last quarter I looked around and nobody’s head had dropped, nobody was sitting back and letting them walk over us. Of course no-one likes losing, but coming in for our last time-out there were still smiles among the players (no matter how wry), which is so important... it’s a game!, it’s supposed to be fun, especially at our level, and if you can’t find any fun in playing a game then there’s really no point to it.

I was massively impressed by our the guys who came off the bench and lifted our game, with the younger lads working hard right the way to the end. That’s such a key role. If you can do that, it inspires the people who have just sat down, who end up itching to get back on the court to try and match that determination.

Immediately after a loss like that, all you can think in terms of your own game is what you did or didn’t do that might have let the team down or could have helped (in my case shooting... again). Fortunately though, you are able to be objective about the other players and even with a few of our big guns missing, there was plenty to be pleased about.

Mike led from the front, our long range sniper Max was looks set to ignite from three point range at any second, and our former Warrior Rob Clarke put in some nice moves on the inside and judging by the amount of running he did is getting fitter and fitter... Though that may have been his shiny white new shoes, imported from America on the back of a unicorn and made of gold (...apparently).

At the end of the game, we had earned some respect from our opponents for fighting hard to the buzzer and walked off the court with our heads high, in fact my biggest concern was not the scoreline, but that one or two characters on the squad threaten to kill the team spirit we have been working so hard to build. There’s nothing gained by shouting criticisms at your own players in a game, especially at the younger guys who were doing such a good job.

The American writer Richard Bach once said, ‘it’s how we lose that’s important and how we’ve changed because of it...’ and I really did feel a change in us, as we each started to realise that the people around us were prepared to work hard for each other and wouldn’t give up.

Richard Bach went on to write that “in a strange way, losing is winning”... but sadly that’s just crap.


Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Hope for the best

“Commitment to the team - there is no such thing as in-between, you are either in or out!” (Pat Riley)

A new season, a new team, a new (slightly snug) kit, and hopefully a new improved Davey to go with it!

Well, sadly the Wrexham Raiders folded, with Hope Lions picking up the registrations of our battle-worn survivors. By the end of the year we had just five players struggling against teams with huge squads and endless benches of players, but fought our way through to third in the league, thanks largely to our captain Mike... it was like something out of The 300, I was exhausted by the end!

Having only started playing properly last year at the age of 27, there’s a nagging sense of urgency in the back of my mind, so the day after the season finished, I could be found in the gym and on the court, trying to push on and get ahead for this year. Hopefully it’s worked, the hours of shooting has made me more accurate (at least in practice) and I’m a stone heavier, so hopefully not as easy to push around as I was last year. I’ve also had great support from the nice people at the Sports Council who helped me out with equipment, as well as support from Joyce Barrow and the Wynnstay Coach House Gym who helped me out with free use of their equipment, which has been awesome and something I could have never afforded on my own.

We’ve had our first game with the Lions, who as well as picking up our registrations, also acquired a some really good players from the Apex and Shropshire Warriors sides, like Rob Clarke, Max Gore, Chris Jones and Aziz Ibraham. Mind you, after last year it feels so strange to back to training with a huge squad of players again!

I was chuffed to bits to be on the starting lineup for our opening game against Wirral Metros. Some of the new guns weren’t available, but even so we had a huge squad. Our starting five played well and got to a bit of a lead. The matches up to Christmas only count towards the cup seedings, so we can afford to try new things and get to know each other. We tried some different lineups and tactics... which as you can tell by the losing scoreline, didn’t work straight out of the box, but I thought was good for a first game shakedown.

Annoyingly I’m carrying an injury as my ankle is still not right. I went over on it the first day of preseason training with the Lions and though it’s got quite a bit better, it’s still painful and alarmingly... well... ‘crunchy!?’ I’ll give it a while longer, but it might yet need a trip to the quacks!

I do miss our old Raiders kit and if I’m honest I still miss being a Raider, but I really think we're going to come together as a unit at Hope. At the team shout at the beginning of the match, I’m sure I heard our old captain Mike whisper RAIDERS! instead of Lions... old habits!

I hope you like the new home for the blog. It’s got all the posts from last year here too and you can even leave me a message or comment by clicking below!