As a Housemaster I was generally preoccupied with a relatively small percentage of the school population. These days I find myself having a broader canvas to fill, and so it was that I found myself this week watching the girls’ netball team take on local rivals Moreton Hall, in a home game for the A and B teams. It may come as surprise and possibly a relief to some of you that I am not a regular at netball matches. Having watched the fast-flowing precision passing, quick athletic movement and accurate shooting of the Shrewsbury teams, that may have to change.
Last term this column usually heralded a heavy defeat for which ever team was the subject of my attention. One of my New Year resolutions, therefore, was to inspire those lucky enough to be featured as Team of the Week to extreme performance. I am delighted to report that I have made a good start – the girls’ A team won their match 28-13 and the B team won 35-3.
The Shrewsbury girls were well prepared for the match, warming up a good half-hour before the game under the watchful eyes of coaches Nicola Bradburne, Grace Woo and OS Alice Long. It was clear that our ‘shooters’ were in good from and there was a calm confidence in the air. The coaches have been working on Alice’s long-term plan and the girls executed it in clinical fashion. The lucid 2-3-2 formation was a masterpiece of planning and is a system that has worked well for the team; they are yet to be beaten in the Shropshire Monday Evening League.
Hattie Warner and Issy Turney were the goal scorers for the B team and I managed to catch up with them for a chat whilst they were honing their skills before the game started. I asked them if it was not a bit nerve-wracking carrying the weight of the team’s expectations on their shoulders. Hattie thought it was very nerve-wracking but Issy was very relaxed about it. Hattie went on to explain that she had to suffer for her sport as she had to keep her nails quite short, which for someone so heavily involved in the Sixth Form Fashion Show, was something of an issue.
Miss Woo was very complimentary about her shooters but thought mid-court dynamo Edie Whittingham was her player of the match. Edie was pleased with her award and put it down to inspirational talks about netball with her academic tutor (me). The A team shooters Immy Hill and Cecily Price were also lauded by Mrs Bradburne and given joint player of the match awards. Cecily was particularly pleased by this and told me it was down to hours of practice in the garden with her dad.
It was clear that the players on both sides had enjoyed the games and a chance in some cases to meet up with old friends. The competitive edge was there but the game was played in a great spirit and I am a certainly a convert to the grace, passion, athleticism, skill and courteousy of netball!
Congratulations to the ladies of the A Team : Captain Izzy Croft, Alice Sykes-Waller, Jo Cull, Laura Cooke, Immy Hill, Tatty Hunt, Cecily Price, Lizzie Mason-Jones
and the B Team: Edie Whittingham, Ciara Murphy, Mary Parrot, Poppy Beckett, Hattie Warner, Issy Turney, Katie Elcock
Below: With recent reports in the national press of over-enthusiastic parents causing disturbances at some school matches (not Shrewsbury, thankfully), measures have been taken to make sure spectators don’t get too close to the players!