Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Four Dodgeballers of the Apocalypse (Or, Winning Hearts and Minds)

Went to a dodgeball tourney yesterday. Garry had found out about it at fairly short notice. We nominally had a team of seven or eight up to Friday, when it began to dwindle alarmingly. We picked up Julian as a replacement for some of the people who couldn't make it, but I arrived at the venue yesterday to find that Libs wasn't well and we were going to be down to four players for the day. Now a dodgeball team usually consists of six people, so we were going to be a bit short-handed. The surprised refrain: "are there really only four of you?" greeted us at the start of practically every match. Luckily, it isn't as much of a disadvantage as it would have been in most sports - fewer of you on the court means more dodging room for each of you.
It was a "fun" Christmas tournament, with fancy dress expected. Most teams had turned out in an impressive array of costumes. F*ckin Chuck Norris were in T shirts with Chuck on the front and a different CN fact on the back of each one. The Santa Claus-es-es-es were all in Santa suits, except for their Elf girl in pixie hat and curly-toed slippers. there was a big crowd for their festive match vs the Penguins, an almost all-girl side in matching black costumes with penguin-beak baseball hats and little gold bow-ties. One side were in dinner suits (I heard one of them ask his mate before their first game: "don't you think it might be a good idea to take the jackets off when we're actually playing?"). The best fancy dress prize deservedly went to the team who came as KISS, in full war paint and silver cloaks. Our team were meant to be 80s-themed, but Julian had had no time to get a costume together. He was wearing a Handel T shirt, though, so there was a 1680s, if not 1980s, connection. Kevin had a mullet wig and Frankie Says T shirt, and Garry was in full Hulk Hogan regalia - blond wig, padded muscle shirt and all. I went as John McClane from Die Hard. Was sad enough to draw Bruce Willis's tattoo on my arm in Sharpie, along with his tally of terrorists despatched. I had a cardboard cut-out gun taped to my back, and wrote "now I have a dodgeball - ho ho ho" on the front of my vest.
We set out our stall early, winning the first two group matches. Then we had a long gap between games, and came back to lose the next. The last match was against Team Oval Exiles, who'd won all their first three games. We rallied, kept our heads, and our tactical sense such as it was got us through.
I think it was just afetr the group stage that Matt came along - still not allowed to play till his injury heals, but a most welcome (and enthusiastic) supporter.
Our quarter-final drew us against a friendly bunch who'd come over to have their pictures taken with us earlier. We won the first set, lost the second, and had to play a decider. Garry chose this moment to Hulk up. The crowd went wild as he tore his T shirt off to reveal his fake muscles. We were inspired, and pulled out a victory to take us to the semis. Where F*ckin Chuck Norris put paid to our progress. We bowed out gracefully, watched the final and went to the pub with many of the other teams.
It was a good day. We'd more than punched above our weight, with Julian peforming brilliantly in his first outing, and could hold our heads up high. And we made some friends too. A lot of people from other teams congratulated us on our plucky outnumbered and outgunned performance. "You won our hearts!" one girl said,which was nice of her.

Christmas party

Friday was the Loan Wolves' Christmas party. We met up at the New Rose, and after a few drinks headed to a Brazilian restaurant. All-you-can-eat buffet, and waiters bringing joints of hjgh-quality meat products to serve at your plate. I fear the vegetarians among us didn't get to enjoy the experience to the full. We had the usual tongue-in-cheek end-of-year awards - mine was for the time I absent-mindedly went to the wrong park for the Tecumsehs match. As we left the restaurant, we discovered that Tzippy had somehow acquired a souvenir from the buffet cart...