London Calling – Open Preview

#ukut1, Bad Skid, Brighton, Chevron, Clapham, club, DED, Devon, EMO, Fire of London, Flying Angels Bern, Glasgow Ultimate, Kapow, Leeds, London Calling, Manchester, Previews, Ranelagh, UK Ultimate, Zimmer
The club season is upon us! James Burbidge takes a look at the competition heading to the open division this weekend.

Returning to St Albans, Tour 1, this year’s London Calling sees over 70 teams entered into the open division with 10 coming from overseas.

At the top of the pack, four teams will hope to prove themselves the best of the best in Europe: Clapham, Chevron Action Flash, Bad Skid and Flying Angels Bern. London Calling will doubtless provide top competition for these teams as they prepare for the big one: the World Club Championships in August.

Reigning National and European champions Clapham have split their team into two like last year (an O-line and a D-line), and are using the competition as the final part of a long and heated selection process. Captain Marc ‘Britney’ Guilbert returns to lead a club firmly focused on a peak in Lecco and will be hoping that his teams can meet in the final this year, rather than the semi. With no major player movement out, and more top recruits coming in – notably Ollie Gordon from Chevron, Matt Parslow and James Baron from Fire – they may find that the toughest competition is also the most familiar.

Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

Bad Skid beat Clapham’s D-line last year at London Calling but lost to the O-line in the final. They met a full Clapham team in the semi-final of Euros and lost again. Since then the team has added a few younger players to the squad, as well as NexGen player Philip Haas, who won’t make it to London. Captain Holger Beuttenmüller admits that the team needs to be at their best on both sides of the disc to be in with a chance of beating Clapham, but places faith in the trust between his teammates who have largely been playing and competing together since they were as young as 14.

In the battle for bronze at Europeans 2013, Bad Skid beat out Flying Angels Bern; the Swiss powerhouse is also making the trip to London. Whilst FAB finished fourth in 2013 and 2012, in 2011 and 2010 they took home the gold. Captain Silvano admits that the team coming is far from a finished product, and with only 13 of a 25-man squad able to make it over they may struggle to compete on Sunday afternoon. That said, with their eyes on a finish high up the table at Worlds, the team will be competing hard in every game and with their reliable combination of huge throws and rapid athletes are more than capable of causing an upset.

Also coming over from Europe in preparation for Lecco are the Swedish Viksjöfors and Ragnarok from Denmark. Both teams have a long-standing history of high level ultimate and will be looking forward to challenging games early in the season. Looking further ahead, Austria and France are sending national teams to London in preparation for the 2015 European Championships. Whilst neither country has a club at the elite level, it will be interesting to see how high their national sides can push in this competition.

Chevron has had to reshuffle their club hierarchy this season after the loss of coach/captain Josh Coxon Kelly. They have also lost some experience to the Master’s division in Dave Sealy and Stu Mitchell, and the aforementioned blow of Ollie Gordon suiting up for their London rivals. As usual they have restocked with youth from the junior division, as well as tapping up Steve Dixon from Devon, a returning stalwart in Si Dathan and Jose-Luis Mendoza (call him ‘Pepe’) from the Mexican national squad. Chevron won their home tournament at the Fog Lane Cup, but not without stiff competition  in a sudden death semifinal against Fire. With top teams from Europe in London, they’ll find it far tougher than usual to make the final, but will push hard regardless and should stake a firm place in the top 8.

Emo will be hoping to force themselves into elite contention this year, and would love nothing more than to giant-kill their way to semis and even beyond. Drawing players from across the country with their well-earned Worlds qualification, competition for a place on the first team has been fierce. Returning players include Dan ‘Colonel’ Furnell, Rich Gale, Sion ‘Brummie’ Scone (all 3 of whom have at some point represented for GB at Open World Championships and World Games tournaments), Andy Tate, and offensive wildcard Ed ‘Freddie’ Walters. Chris ‘Aussie’ White (formerly Leeds, Chevron and Fire) has also been added to the roster. The team continues to put trust in youth, with Joe Wynder returning as playing coach and Rob Coddington as captain. Emo finished 2nd at Fog Lane after beating Jen in a friendly earlier this season, and are looking better than they ever have before. Whether this potential can be converted into the breakthrough year that they want so much will be one of the stories of the season.

Fire of London will be hoping to push back towards the top of UK Ultimate after some disappointing results during Tour last year. New captain James Dunn’s squad is bolstered by members of the folded Tooting Tiger and Burro Electrico teams, as well as a contingent of Bear Cavalry (mixed) players – including World Games star Dave Tyler. Ka-Pow also have a new captain and a refreshed squad – Richard ‘Pringle’ Taylor has invested in the future by inviting plenty of trialists to be part of a massive training squad comprising over 30 players. When they met in the final game at the Fog Lane Cup, Fire handily defeated Ka-Pow to take 3rd spot. Both teams will be aiming to make semis at some point this season but will have a fight on their hands for a top 10 spot at Tour 1.

Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey
Building on their recent trip to Europeans, Devon have promoted some strong second team players and reportedly picked up a “wonder-Columbian” to replace the players they are losing to GB Juniors for the Tour season. They’ll be as athletic and determined as ever – they came 6th at Fog Lane with just 9 players – but indicate that the Tour will be simply preparation for Nationals and (hopefully) another trip to Europe.

Ranelagh return to the club circuit once again, and, buoyed by their success last year (5th over the Tour season), are bringing a second team. We’ll see if familiarity with the UK teams (and vice-versa) after the committed attendance of tour over the last few season will affect their results. Brighton City are coming off the back of one of their most successful seasons (4th overall at Tour), and Tour 1 will be a good indicator as to whether they can replicate that level of performance. The loss of deep cutter Dan ‘Dyno’ Friedeberg (reportedly to Devon) will be something of a blow but they will almost certainly have reloaded with talent from the dominant Sussex University program.

Zimmer – who are preparing for Worlds in the Masters division – are also a bit of an unknown. A surprising 83% percent of this commitment-averse squad will be attending London Calling. If they bring their A-game they’ll be a force to be reckoned with; they only narrowly lost to Chevron in a friendly earlier in the season and are brimming with international experience and pedigree.

Further down, but looking to push up the table, Manchester and LeedsLeedsLeeds will be fighting for the title of ‘second best team in the north.’ Manchester took that plaudit last year, and return all but two of their squad. They’ve been training regularly with Chevron players but despite a successful run of winter leagues, had a disappointing weekend at Fog Lane, finishing 8th. Leeds played Fog Lane with only 9 players and finished 11th. Ben Bruin has left for Emo, and Rich Hims will be focusing on his run to Worlds with Cambridge (mixed) leaving behind a young squad with a significant battle on their hands to stay in A-tour.

North of the north, the battle to be Scotland’s best team has taken an interesting turn with the complete dissolution of Fusion. Glasgow Ultimate top the pile at the moment, and will be looking to solidify the A-tour spot they earned last year. Sneekys have added a large number of Fusion’s Edinburgh contingent to their roster, and yet only beat in sudden death new team NEO, who have recruited heavily from Aberdeen and Dundee universities. DED meanwhile, are refocusing on Open this year, and are one of the few club teams in the UK with a dedicated coach – Jonathan Saunders. The squad, captained by Sam Vile, has seen quite a large turnover and brought in plenty of young players, but promise has already been shown in preparation for the season with a trip to Rising POT, a tournament in Poland where DED finished 4th and won spirit.

There’s a lot of top quality competition coming to London – and Si Hill is to be congratulated for once again attracting overseas teams. Tour’s opening weekend is reliably one of the toughest tournaments in the calendar, and this year is no different. With a large but fairly static domestic scene, mainland-European competitors make for exciting matches, unfamiliar styles and the inevitable occasional shock result. With the battle for A-tour distorted by the influx of single-appearance teams, teams in the 12-24 area are going to scrapping for every single win. 

What are your thoughts? Have we missed a sleeper? Will we see an all mainland-Europe final? Let us know in the comments.  And remember to use #ukut1 for social media and smack talk. Finally, best of luck to all teams attending from tSG! 


Dear C Tour: Why Trialling Might Be Worth A Shot

A Tour, C Tour, DED, Kapow, Trial Season, xEUCF
Harry Mason sends a message to all trialling hopefuls in 2014…



Trials season is approaching. For many hopeful players, they’ll be turned away, having gained experience from the trials but that’s it for the year. Some players, having worked their way up the tours (or been on the training squad last year) might have their eyes on finally breaking the squad. And, just occasionally, there’ll be an amateur who dares to dream big.

Last year, I was one such hopeful. In 2012, I played just one open tour. C tour. We battled well and were proud of how we’d done, and I enjoyed playing with them. I wasn’t the best player, I wasn’t able to single-handedly swing games, and at times I was a liability. Yet still I dreamed.


In C tour, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that sometimes you have to avoid putting certain team-mates in certain situations, I personally wasn’t trusted with the disc as much for any assists, and in the wind everything went to chaos. At A-Tour and Euros, there isn’t that luxury. You have to trust every team-mate. And I did. I can’t identify anyone whom I would be uncomfortable giving the disc to and in return really didn’t want to be the one player they couldn’t trust. After those games I finally realised I could be trusted. That it wasn’t beyond me.

Harry Mason skying for DED Mixed at MT3 in 2013. Photo courtesy of Graham Bailey.

So, swallowing my fears and with a scared lump in my throat I applied for DED open. I remember my heartbreak when injury knocked me out of the second trial. Then elation when, during the 3rd trial, Luke Tobiasiewicz came up, clipboard in hand, and said I was being strongly considered. Taking his advice I gave it my all.


A short while later, I received the email every C tour player would layout into a wall to receive. I had narrowly made the cut. Courtesy of a follow up email from Graham Bailey about how to improve (still flagged in my inbox) it was clear I was being taken on for my potential, not my current skill. This is the first difference I noticed: I was expected to have a much greater understanding of the mechanics of the game, I’d have to work harder, and be able to identify weakness in myself like I hadn’t before.

I also trialled for DED mixed, and was told in no uncertain terms that, while they liked me and all that, I hadn’t made the team. I was distraught, but looking at the squad I couldn’t argue. However, thanks to international duties, they now needed an extra guy. I was brought in, permanently aware I was very much the final choice. That’s how I started the season after 2 tough trials – a player taken for potential, and there to prove a point.

I’m not going to go through DED’s season – it was brilliant and painful in equal measure – but there are a few things to highlight. Mainly, everyone at top level is tough. There’s no easy match ups. Small things (like being pumped up, or an extra half hour of drills beforehand) give big advantages in these situations. It was a lot more professional, a lot more marginal and there was never a game where I was allowed to come away thinking “they were the better team, there was no way we could have won”. I wasn’t taught to beat myself up, but in nearly every game I now knew there was always a chance, on a different day, that it could have been ours.

My very first A tour level game was vs Kapow! on a huge 3G indoor astro and I was scared. People at the top may not understand this, but there is still an aura and mythology surrounding A tour and it’s players. They’re supposed to be giants, faster than Grove Farm wind and, if not able to fly, then at least give gliding a dang good shot. A Kapow! player layout D-ing through me on my very first point didn’t help. But it wasn’t just the layout, it was the fact that it apparently meant nothing. It was expected, rather than anything spectacular, and that blindsided me at least as much as the actual play.

Ka-Pow’s trials started last weekend, but who will make it from these young hopefuls? Photo courtesy of KaPow Ultimate. 

Distraught, I went to the experienced players for advice. Then, the impossible occurred. I started to get the disc, and pass it without being blocked. I got free occasionally! This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not supposed to happen at all. The game was faster than I was used to – much faster – but it was still the game I knew. It wasn’t much, yet to me it was the world. We lost that game, but it still meant a lot as the biggest jump I have ever, and probably will ever get in Ultimate.

The other huge moment came when playing for DED mixed at tour 3. Our first game was against GB World Games. Always fun. This was at Cheltenham, the same venue and (I’m fairly sure) the same pitch I’d played my first ever game at Tour back in 2010. Now, 3 years later, I was playing the best in the country.

Again, we lost that game. Badly. The margin that those players had over me was, to say the least, humbling. (At most, soul crushing, but let’s ignore that). Yet, even playing against the royalty of Ultimate, you started to realise they were just players. Very, very good ones – clinical and dominant in equal measures – but players nonetheless. I actually managed to score (twice!), though mainly due to the throwing ability of my team mates (and being too insignificant to notice sneaking deep in a zone).

These games probably meant very little to most others involved. They were both games I lost, and very little was at stake for the result, so why should they mean anything to me? This season I played my first ever Club Nationals, and then my first ever Euros with DED Mixed. These tournaments were much more competitive, way more enjoyable and helped my physical skill improve far more than I can possibly measure. But it was those two games that let me break the mental barrier and say to myself that, yes, I had earned my place in high level Ultimate.

So, to all aspiring players let me tell you: it’s possible. I wasn’t the strongest player. I had to work harder than I’ve ever worked. I had to face the fact that, hey, Uni life was fun but, until exam time, it came second. But in one season I made the jump. It requires a lot of trust from the people picking. You’ll have to face the fact the odds are against you, that it may not be your year. Well, it may not be, but it might be.

At the very least, like most times in Ultimate, it’s worth a bid.

Good luck to all players trialling over next few weeks!

UKU Mixed Nationals 2013 – Review

ABH, Bear Cavalry, Black Eagles, Brighton, Cambridge, DED, JR, Mixed, Thundering Herd, Tournament Reports, UKU Nationals, WUCC2014, xEUCF

David Pryce reviews the Mixed division at UKU Nationals.

Last weekend saw eight UK Mixed teams competing at Southampton’s Wide Lane Sports Ground for the title at UKU Nationals, a spot at WUCC 2014 and a place in the top 3 to go to xEUCF 2013 in Bordeaux.

In the first round all games went as expected, although JR came close to upsetting Black Eagles the Scots pushed for the win in sudden death. The second round saw two early big match ups in DED vs Black Eagles and Bear Cavalry vs Cambridge. Going with tour seedings Black Eagles dispatched DED 15-10 but the return of David Tyler and too many mistakes from Cambridge gave Bear Cavalry an easy win 15-6.

These two rounds acted as seedings for the QF’s on Saturday afternoon which all went to tour seeding and put Cambridge vs Black Eagles in one semi and DED vs Bear Cavalry in the other. Semi final 1 was the closest but Cambridge utilised their clinical offence and took full advantage of Black Eagles turns in the wind and rain of Sunday morning, game ended 15-10 Cambridge. The other semi was a very one sided affair; Bear Cavalry winning 15-2. 

DED snatch 3rd and a place at xEUCF. Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


The final and the game to go to xEUCF were as a result replays of the second round games: Cambridge against Bear Cavalry and DED against Black Eagles. The final started off very close, with both teams getting used to the cross wind but still able to fire in goals with relative ease. Towards the end of the first half Cambridge’s O didn’t seem to click and Bear Cavalry took advantage with a couple breaks to take half 8-5. This loss of concentration carried over into the second half and the lead was extended to 10-5. Cambridge then turned on their zone and tightened up all over to get back to trading 12-7, however it was too little too late. Capped to 13 and on defence Bear Cavalry got the D and scored the final point to take the championship for the second time in a row. MVP of final: James Freeman from Bear Cavalry.

On the show pitch the game to go provided the other great rematch with the added excitement of the winner qualifying for xEUCF. Having not been able to watch much of this game live or on VOD I cannot say too much but from what I do know, DED took half, up a couple breaks and held on to take third and a spot in Bordeaux by the same score that Black Eagles beat them the day before. This means Black Eagles only hope of going to WUCC lies with RGS not going or an extra spot being given to the UK. DED will have to finish above Cambridge in Bordeaux to secure a spot in Lecco next summer also. We can only wait and see.

Congratulations to Bear Cavalry on winning the tournament plus joint spirit winners and securing spots at xEUCF and WUCC, also to Cambridge and DED who will also be representing in Bordeaux. Full game results can be found on our Ultiapps score reporter plus final results below.

Finishing Positions
1. Bear Cavalry (qualified for xEUCF and WUCC) [Spirit winners]
2. Cambridge Ultimate (xEUCF)
3. Dog Eat Disc (xEUCF)
4. Black Eagles [Spirit winners]
5. Brighton 
6. Thundering Herd
7. JR
8. ABH

Bears with their medals, now go represent!! Photo courtesy of Matt de Lacy Alders.

REMINDER: for the remaining WUCC spots (similar to the Open and Women’s divisions) the 2nd spot will go to the highest UK team at xEUCF that is not Bear Cavalry. The third and (for now) final spot will then be allocated based on Tour 2013 rankings. 
Thanks to PushPass for filming so many games and getting them out very quickly, since I was not playing in the Mixed division, would have been impossible to write this without them! Go buy all the games for £10.99, thats less than £1 per game = bargain!

Keep updated on facebook, twitter and here! Nationals reviews, xEUCF previews and more to come! DP @ tSG.

UKU Regionals Preview – South East

Brighton, DED, Previews, Reading Ultimate, Release, UKU Nationals, UKU Regionals

Brighton Echo player Miles Tincknell finishes of the regionals previews with a hotly contested South East, who have 3 bids and will compete on Sunday.

With only three places up for grabs the SE region will be experiencing a heated game to go while the top two battle for the prestige of taking the region.

DED (Dog Eat Disc) were last years years victors of the region after finishing a comfortable 4th at Tour in 2012, however a stronger and more fleshed out squad from Brighton brought it back hard at Nationals, beating them comfortably 15-5 while DED where were lacking some key players. This year they have slipped 6 places in the tour rankings down to 10th place, but will still be fighting for that vital qualification if they are again to establish themselves as the biggest contenders in the regionals tournament. With them placing in a mixed squad into the region, it is clear that DED’s focus is not just on the Open side of things. It will be interesting to see how they split their guys between the two teams, trying to find a balance can be difficult. DED will be looking to get comfortable with the mixed team but should be doing so without cutting too much depth from the DED open squad. If this team is to continue it’s growth, it’s important that it tries hard to find this balance and not sacrifice the few spots that are on offer, which will be highly contested from Reading and Brighton Echo.
DED at T2, but which men will go play mixed from this bunch? Photo courtesy of Andrew Moss.


Brighton City, long time standing club and rumors suggest; the biggest Ultimate club in the UK, are on a mission that transcends that of single tournaments and instead places itself on the timeline of decades. With discussions rife about sorting out who will play Breezy, Echo and City, it is clear that Brighton City are thinking of nothing else but a Nationals qualification, a given seeing that they finished 4th at Tour over all this year, rising two places from 6th last year. However who they face in the final could be a different story. Trying out a new approach to Ultimate, City will be looking to see how their offense fares compared to last year not just in the region but all the way to Nationals. With Brighton putting up their best ever performance against Clapham this year (15-11), it will be interesting to see how they contend for the Euros spot as their team grows in strength and depth. 


Brighton Echo, a team that is seen as more of an extension of the first team within the club than a second team will be looking to prove a point in the SE. Meeting defeat upon defeat against Reading, they will be looking for revenge, but with Reading being comfortable in their victories, surely that 3rd place is destined for them and them only. Echo, however, will be sporting their strongest team yet, coupled with a few new tricks in their arsenal, their aim is to solely prove that Reading caught them on a bad few days. 

Reading as previously mentioned had comfortable victories against Echo this year and broke into A-tour after Tour 2, only to drop back out of it in tour 3. Proving that they are on the cusp of promotion, they finished top of B-tour, taking 17th, 4 places up on Echo who stole 21st from EMO 2 (a team that had previously given them trouble).  Going from strength to strength this year, they are in a prime position to take their game up to the next level. Lacking Mark Bignal (who is going to be playing for DED Mixed), their Captain and so goes without saying, a key player, the rest of the players will be looking to step up to the mark and prove that their depth is withstanding. 

Release have seen key players lost to Wessex last year and a few to Brighton over the years, they will be looking to rebuild their team back to full capacity; with regionals providing a perfect opportunity to do that. Sporting lots of fresh talent from Skunks, it will be important to see if these players build the club loyalty to stay or will their talent be head hunted by some of the bigger clubs as the younger players look to make plays to get noticed. Possible exciting moments from this team.

Pier Pressure being another part of the Brighton contingent will be looking to bring a hard game, with a lot of experience and ability, they have the potential to cause some upsets to the rankings. Wanting to further themselves in the regionals scene, Pier Pressure will be looking to bring a hard game to whomever they play. Expect tough defence and a hectic offence from these guys, who proved last year that given the right moment and their years of playing together, they can upset teams!

Team Shark and Guildford will also be appearing, hoping to utilise this as an opportunity to match up against the big players and teams, taking from it what they can in a hope to continue the growth they have been experiencing so far. 


Predictions for this region?

1. Brighton City
2. DED
3. Brighton Echo
4. Reading
5. Pier Pressure
6. DED Mixed
7. Release
8. Guildford
9. Team Shark

So that’s it, all the regional competitions will take place over the weekend. Follow the action on twitter! DP @ tSG.