Matt Dathan and Matthew Hodgson take a look into Royal Goaltimate Society and their road to WUCC 2014 in the Mixed division.
|Luke T of RGS brings down a wayward disc at Golden Keg last month. Photo courtesy of the Golden Keg crew.
Chrissy Birtwistle (C)
Jonny Clark (C)
For much of the season R.G.S have resembled more of a dating agency than an ultimate team, but finally they’re starting to hit it off on the pitch as well as off. The team was seen by some – perhaps unfairly – as the laughing stock of the UK teams going to Worlds due to dropping as low as 9th in the mixed division. But the facts fail to tell the full story.
Only a handful of the players going to Lecco this summer played for the R.G.S that qualified for World’s by winning mixed tour last year, which explains why the team struggled to gel in the opening months of the season. The wind and rain of Nottingham and Cheltenham at Mixed Tours 2 and 3 did not help a team trying to gel as a team and develop a new offence, but, as Jonny Clark one of the two captains said, it certainly created the all-important team spirit and graft that often takes time for a new team.
“Those early tournaments were particularly frustrating, but we learned to fight as a team and rely on the weapons we have to grind out games,” he told The ShowGame.
They are running offensive looks out of vertical, horizontal (listen out for their ‘hozzers for blozzers’ call) and split stacks as well as deploying multiple zones and man defensive plays. With a new squad and players based as far away as Canada and Dubai, all of these challenges contributed to the time that it took this team to come together.
However the mixed season was only the beginning of their preparations and they have since gone on to impress in foreign tournaments. If their run of recent form is anything to go by then they should be on course to get some wins at Worlds.
At Windmill Windup in Amsterdam, their only defeats came against the French national team, eventual winners Bear Cavalry and Heidees, the German mixed team, who they later beat in their final game of the tournament to secure an impressive fifth place finish, a position which certainly made those early critics of R.G.S look a bit silly. They also beat a host of other European mixed teams going to WUCC, including the Dutch team UFO and Bon Disc’Manche from France.
Last month they travelled to Golden Keg in Dublin, where they beat Grandmaster Flash from Poland and narrowly lost to the winners, Cambridge.
Coaching and Playing Style
R.G.S – or the Royal Goaltimate Society to give their full name – were the only mixed team going to Worlds that held open trials, due to the exodus of Clapham and Iceni players who chose to play in the open and women’s division instead.
With the help of coaching from Jaimie Cross, an experienced veteran of managing new teams, Jonny and fellow captain Chrissie Birtwistle ran try-outs over the winter that triallists said had a professional feel to them, held under the roof of the state-of-the-art Soccerdome centre in Greenwich.
Players to Watch
Along with a handful of existing players from the previous year, they managed to secure some very talented players who were unattached to other WUCC squads, including Amie Channon and Ruby Rennison from SYC and Iain ‘Con’ McConachie, an ex-Clapham and Fusion player who has returned to Frisbee after a few years in the wilderness.
Their star players so far this season have been Richard ‘Macca’ Macleod and Kate Ford. “Underestimate Macca at your peril,” was a warning shot one R.G.S aimed at their WUCC opponents.
According to R.G.S players Tim Sanders and Kate Rae, the season changed when the team started going to the pub together after trainings and summer league, and the team’s best performance of the season came after their biggest night out as a team. It was the same night as four of the girls reportedly got lucky after wearing identical Get Horizontal t-shirts (from where the ‘hozzers for blozzers’ play was born), so it is unlikely that either a socialising or a drinking ban will be imposed on the players in Lecco.
It’s a squad finally bearing the fruits of an intense, sometimes frustrating but hard-working build-up to WUCC. “We’re just going to take it a point and game at a time,” Jonny says, preferring not to set a firm target of where they hope to finish.
“We’ve got a really great pool lined up with Fire of Anatolia, UKU! And Polar Bears so our first aim will be pushing for the top half of the draw. More than anything we’re looking forward to getting our whole squad together and seeing what we can bring to the first round of games.”
The last piece of the jigsaw will be Colin and Sam Green joining the team from Canada. Each have made cameo appearances throughout the season and Jonny hopes the excitement they bring to the team will give them the vital boost to push R.G.S up into the top echelons of the competition.
Their record on the international stage is far better than the domestic scene. As their performances at Windmill and Golden Keg showed, the hotter climates of Lecco and the absence of home media scrutiny will benefit their style of play and mental state and they are increasingly looking like a team that could impress and punch above the weight of a team seeded 27th at WUCC.
|Photo courtesy of Ruby Rennison.
That’s two down, two to go! But first some more discussion…