Saturday 20th February saw the EW27s extended training squad attend the traditional soggy Touch season opener in Manchester, hosted by the Manchester Chargers and Fully Charged Events. With the opportunity to test out new skills and game plans, the squad entered two ladies teams into the tournament.
The two squads; retaining the traditional “Bangers” moniker and joined by their counterpart “Mash” squad were joined in the women’s tournament by teams from Sandymount, Thames Valley and Galaxy. The traditional rain at least had the good grace to wait till at least the first games had almost finished till it proceeded to help the many boots to churn the fields into a mire the likes of which have not been seen since Glastonbury.
With the World Cup Bronze Medal fresh in everyone’s memories, a new look coaching team have assembled a relatively new look squad to start the run to Euros 2016 and more importantly to the next world cup.
The Bangers opened their account with a fine fast opening performance against Sandymount, running out comfortable winners. The scoreline was less important than the nature of the victory which saw a wide expansive passing game combined with strikes from all parts of the park. Considering the weather and conditions, the passing was crisp and confident, showing the hard work that has gone into handling at training. Meanwhile Mash took on the Thames Valley Vixens, and faced off their previous player coach; a certain Sammie Philips. Sammie and her EW27 counterpart Laura AP Mitchison showing their own skills to pull the vixens back into the game and earn a hard fought draw as the Mash line defence was tested further.
Game two saw the Bangers and Mash face off against each other, with both looking to attack hard and fast in the rain and mud, a score draw saw the expansive play of the Mash take on the consistency and pressure of the Bangers. For those watching it was a great demonstration of the strength in depth of the EW27s as a whole and served to demonstrate just how difficult selection for Euros was going to be. Both squads doing their best to put the weather in its place. Mash were first to open the scoring as Lucy Snape dived and slid in through the mud to draw first mud. Not to be outdone the Bangers drove hard upfield for Claire Traynor to take her opportunity to dive and slide for her opening score, only to realise to both squad’s enjoyment that she was five yards short. With the ball literally stuck in the mud, Mash’s Mo Williams’s scoop and go was thwarted as the ball sucked into the mud so firmly it stayed put as she ran on.
As the weather closed in and the mud worsened, Mash worked hard against a highly organised Galaxy, losing out to a narrow defeat before closing out their account with a convincing victory over Sandymount late in the day with light fading, rain falling and some superb basic skills on show despite all of this. Meanwhile Bangers completed their account with a victory over Thames Valley before another close fought loss to Galaxy who they rejoined in the final. The final eventually taken to Dropoff and a Galaxy victory. Nevertheless, the scores were less important than the manner of the play from the Bangers and Mash Squads. All players had excelled and rewarded the faith and hard work to develop a new look EW27s squad playing a new expansive game.
Sunday enabled a gentle training session on astro turf whilst the ever present Cryssie and Jules sorted getting the kit to a launderette and Sam Powles took up residence and photo duties.
The astro turf giving the Bangers and Mash squads to practice their open gameplay and to generally enjoy a light hearted session before the first squad selection was announced bringing both disappointment and happiness in equal measure.
With first selection complete, the EW27s now look to focus on the Euros2016, with the All England training camp in April at Welbeck, the squad have already contended with snow in Northampton, Mud and rain in Manchester… after the experiences of Coffs Harbour, the coaching team are keen to ensure the squad are prepared for all meteorological outcomes in Jersey. Having seen the quality and confidence of play in the Manchester conditions; there are certainly exciting prospects for the future style of play from this talented squad.
Everyone in Bangers and Mash would like to thank the organisers and Refs who helped make the day run. A special thanks goes to Crystal Jules and Sam for braving the rain as the squads support team