Hello my friends!

It’s been a long time without posting anything but, believe me, the last weeks have been hyper-busy between tournaments, trainings, work and everyday life.

There are so many things to say and tell, and I think the best way is to follow the chronological order… but first let me say this:

WE HAVE WON THE LEAGUE!!! We are the 2016-2017 Midlands League Winner!!!

Let’s start from the beginning. I wrote last time a post telling you that University Championships were really close and that we were preparing the event with really hard trainings.
The event has been held at Meadow Park in Gillingham (Kent).
The first day started with a news: Huddersfield, one of the team of our group phase, was not going to attend the finals fro major problems and this was litterally changing the plans of our day.
In the first match with played Middlesex with a win (8-4).
We closed the day with a second victory against Chichester with a neat 7-4 and the first position in our group.

UoL HC ready for the fight!

The second day started with an early match (after an healthy and tasty breakfast in the amazing hotel “The Inn on the Lake” against Oxford ad 9:30. a 7-1 win assured us the next quarter finals phase against Bournemouth, a team we didn’t know at all.
The match has been really intense with a proper fight both physically in defence and tactically in attack. Their centre block is represented by three Norwegian player (really really good) who know each other since they were kids. I was playing right wing in attack and centre block in defence (badluck: Sam Emerson, our right wing suffered an injury the day before and couldn’t play): some lost balls in offensive phase, small but important errors in defence e a bit of bad luck couldn’t be compensate by a great team spirit. We lost 12-10 in a really tight game that, according to the people watching it, should have been the final of the tournament for the level and quality of handball shown on the court.
Many people came to me after the match (from other teams) saying that the match was really enjoyable and congratulating for the show.
At the end of the day we were obviously not happy, but we knew we did a great job and that we were playing a better handball than that in the qualifications.

The UoL HC 1st team at UniChamps Final round: Hallstrom, Hanney, Shalev, Larkinson, Bourne, Hobaek (coach), Concannon, Emerson, Lopez, Barrett, Hunt-Cole, Lucaioli (capt.)

In the last speech after the disappointing results, the minds were already set up to the next big event we had to face: the final match of the season against Birmingham, a game that we had to win in order to obtain the most important achievement of our history.

The week has been intense, with trainings focused on specific work to correct and change the aspects were not working during the tournament. Shooting, some positions changes (due to injuries and people not available for the match), drills and tactics.

The match in Birmingham has been absolutely cracking. We started imposing immediately our rythm and taking a big gap with a serie of really nice goals from all the positions. Good saves from our Polish keep Stefaniak, a good game organization by the new playmaker (previously left back) Shalev, rockets shots from the right back Hanney and a solid defence with an aggressive 6-0 module were the key point to settle the match in the way we wanted. Their attack was mainly based on the use of a quick left back that was often easily controlled by us.
We reached the +10 score and we changed a lot (I was going back to the cental playmaker position in attack and centre block in defence); Birmingham was fighting to the end thanks also to an high numer of penalties and 2′ suspensions against us (I had one at the end of the first half). The gap was getting closer but we were able to control and score some important goals in the final 8 minutes of the match dispite a high aggressive defence of the host team, trying to block the central zone of our attack. I scored 2 goals in the match (one from right wing in the first half and the other one in the last 4 minutes of the match from centre).
The thrilling final 5 minutes were really intense for both playing teams and relative benches and at the final whistle the scoreboard was showing the following result:

Birmingham University Handball 29-33 University of Lincoln Handball Club

For the first time in it history the UoL HC has won the Midland League!

UoL HC Midlands League Winners! The team in Birmingham: Lopez, Hobaek (coach), Hallstrom, Larkinson, Bourne, Hanney, Shalev, Stefaniak, Lucaioli (capt), Concannon, Hunt-Cole, Barrett.

It is quite impossible to describe the happiness and the amazing feelings at the end of this match: all the defeats and the disappointing moment we lived in the last two season were just running though my mind. So many time we said or heard the phrase “We played well but…”, so many times people were laughing at us when asking for the result of our matches, so many times we were coming back home with sad faces for the disappointing results…

Now everything has changed, now there is a  a big different change in the story of this club. A great group of friends, a family made up of people from different countries (England, Israel, Italy, Poland, USA, Sweden, Norway) and with different ages, a team of hard workers and a society that really put a great effort to make it possible!

I am so proud to have been the captain of this team this year: the job was not easy and sometimes I felt really stressed about the high responsibility inside and outside the court. There have been difficult moments, but also amazing memories that I will always bring with my self for the rest of my life and the victory is exactly the biggest one!

It’s a pleasure to write this post at the end of this intense weekend (we played also a friendly match today… 2 matches in two days. NOTE: friendly result Coventry 27-28 Lincoln) but it’s not easy to say everything… That’s why probably you will read more in the next days (I know, it could be boring but please understand the joy of an old player who has just won his league abroad! 😀 ).

Thank you very much for the support and for reading this post!