This weekend saw Birmingham host the UK Championships, Spring Break woke up at an ungodly hour and nipped on the train from Euston to arrive for 9am registration.
Birmingham had really thought about their courts setup with boards being used to make the court boundary more predictable and goals made of Reynolds 725 steel..!
The courts were a massive 40m x 27m which meant a passing game was going to be key to use the space effectively. It was great to see so many familiar faces in attendance and the first days games were soon underway with Spring Break only losing one game on golden goal against Cosmoricos. As in Brighton our favourite game on day one was against Black Stabbath who play an optimistic (and fast!) mid-court game.
Some other notable wins on day one came from Team Warin who were ranked 5th and looked in good shape (it seems being brothers gave them a sixth sense when it came to making swift passes around their opponents). Tornadoes were also on form and were only knocked down from their 5th ranking after an unlucky draw against Dead Rappers in round six.
After the first day was done the top of the board belonged to Cosmicos, with Spring Break, Dead Rappers and Nice Touch closely following behind them. In the evening Birmingham had an awesome BBQ planned at a local pub, it was a joy to be greeted by unfazed staff and for food to be provided to 70-odd sunburnt cyclists in a canopied beer garden whilst the rain tried (and failed) to dampen our spirits.
Every team was taken into a double elimination bracket for day two. Many games were too close to call and went to golden goal. Thumb’s Up seemed to be having difficulties after their recent solid performances, whereas teams such as 5G and Black Stabbath seemed to improve with each passing game. The top four teams from day one were heading towards a face-off in the winner’s bracket quarter finals.
In the winner’s bracket quarter finals Spring Break defeated Dead Rappers 2-0 in a feisty game and Cosmicos sent Nice Touch down to the loser’s bracket with a 3-0 win.
Spring Break then beat Cosmicos 2-1 in the winner’s bracket semi-final securing a spot in the final. Nice Touch beat Dead Rappers with some glorious long shots (Dead Rappers seemed to try and hold a very high attacking line and often got penalised once possession turned over). Nice Touch then went on to beat Cosmicos on golden goal in the loser’s bracket semi-final and so Spring Break jumped back on court to take on Nice Touch in the final.
The final was tense as we were very aware of Josh’s ability to score if he was allowed a path to goal and Cameron’s accuracy meant we ran a keeper for most of the game. Ryan scored for Spring Break after 8 minutes or so and after some further chances at either end the scoreline finished 1-0, we won!
It feels good to be UK Champions (the training seems to have paid off), we’re getting a lot less nervous in close matches and have more confidence in all aspects of our game.
We now have our sights set on victory at the European Championships in Paris in a few weeks time. Thanks for an awesome tournament Birmingham you executed it wonderfully and have a lovely bike polo community!
Update 1: 5G filmed the final (what legends), see it below:
Update 2: Birmingham’s tournament video has also been released:
All photos by Tracee, more can be found here.