Bluesfest Lacrosse Tournament
Once a year, the Croydon Blues Lacrosse club hold an event called "Bluesfest" at the Old Walcotian Sports Grounds, just outside Croyden. The event consists of inviting every Lacrosse team they can lay their hands on, getting a freaking massive barbeque and a bar stuffed with cheap booze, and simmering the whole mixture over a sunny weekend in June. It's one of the best recipes I know.
Now loads of you haven't heard of Lacrosse, and if you haven't and you want to lay your hands on something interesting to do with your weekend, I suggest you try and find a fixture you could go watch. Take the family and an umbrella and find out what this is all about.
My team, London University, had played half a day's worth of Lacrosse, or two fixtures before I arrived. Mercifully for us an ex-coach and a few old mates handy in attack had rocked up and donned our kit for the weekend. We had unexpectedly won our first, then lost our second, but had reversed the result with an appeal against one of the opposition players who had whored himself out for free beer. Wouldn't have been a problem if he hadn't scored. Twice.
In the remains of the day we were due to play two teams who were fairly well matched against us. We played hard and stepped up our game each time we played. The weather was scorching hot. People were already burned from the previous afternoon when they had arrived, pitched tents and drunk until they couldn't see. Lacrosse, although technically a summer sport, requires some pretty heavy kit. A helmet, thick padded gloves and elbow guards are a must. Most people, especially attackers wear body armor that protects shoulders, chest and back from the slashing of opposition defense players 6ft titanium sticks. Yes, legal slashing.
Somehow we scraped through to come second in our group, which meant Sunday would be no idle time in the Cup group. Nice one boys, all we have to do tomorrow is beat three of the best Lacrosse teams in the UK.
Excuse me for not including too much detail about the ensuing drinking. Suffice to say twenty of us woke in several places on Sunday morning with varying degrees of visual and aural impairment.
First up on Sunday we played and soundly beat the Nottingham Kinghts. Off to a good start, but running behind schedule, the organisers decided to reduce the tournament game times to 10 minutes each way. This means that, with ten subs on the bench, if you're not moving at the fastest speed you can ever reach, you get off the pitch like shit off a shovel. The pace of the game is utterly insane to begin with, but it usually takes place over eighty minutes. Compress all that energy into twenty minutes and you've got some stirred up crazy action going on.
Narrowly, and humiliatingly we lost the next game. Worse, there is a strong case to argue that one bungled pass and one bungled piece of defense on my part lost us the game.
The final two fixtures were against UK Lacrosse, the company that supplies the entire UK with lacrosse equipment shipped over from the States, and Jedi Lax, a University of Sheffield Alumni team who've been playing forever, are built like the columns of a Grecian temple, and move with the grace of child ballet prodigies. Long and short, we didn't stand a chance. We made a thoroughly good job of looking like we could see the ball moving between attack players passes in each of their attacks, but found ourselves relentlessly slinking back into starting positions as yet another swoosh of the net indicated another goal.
The London boys, however, are not ones to let spirits drop. Knowing that we would be in need of post match refreshment, we had organised with the generous bartender to keep our last crate of beer on ice until our day was done. We kicked up with a cool beer and watched the closing matches of a weekend of fiery Lacrosse, of wonderful people and of perfect weather. The sun began its final decent over the London skyline as Jedi Lax cut their way through Reading Wildcats and UK Lacrosse to win the tournament.
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