Tranmere Lions Win Der Goldene Volf

Report by Rob Marland

 

Three teams strutted onto the frozen/hallowed ground of Hoylake Rugby Club to contest the 3rd annual Northern Volfsball Tournament. It was two days after Christmas, and many players were visibly drunk on brandy butter.

The sky was clear but a chill wind up the shorts of Rob Marland, the Northern Volfsball Ambassador, argued for a truncated tournament. The teams would play each other only once: the team with the most wins, or the highest points difference in the event of a tie, would be photographed holding Der Goldene Volf Trophy before everyone stumbled back to the clubhouse for a Fanta and a bit of a cry.

The first controversy of the day emerged when Andy Utley, cap’n of the West Kirby Marine Lakers, realised he had marked the outer circle incorrectly, adding an extra metre to the radius of the pitch. The extra playing area would favour the attacking side, but flour supplies were low so everyone agreed to just get on with it before we all died of exposure.

The pegs used to stabilise the volfsball stand had also gone missing, but a couple of house bricks served the same purpose and even added to the grim-up-north vibe.

Andy Utley with his Marine Lakers substitutes – Sarah Birss & Hannah Wareing

Spoiler alert: no volfsballs were scored this year, which the players variously attributed to the wind, chilly fingers, or the low December sun getting in their peepers. Pathetic.

 

Game 1

Hoylake Red Rocks 12 – 15 Tranmere Lions

(Score was 12 – 14 on the day)

 

Red Rocks – Marland, P. Birss, S. Birss.

Lions – Marshall, C. Devlin, P. Devlin

Rookie Sarah Birss scored the first point of the tournament and her two year old nephew, the only spectator, assumed the Red Rocks were on course for their second northern title in three years. The side from Hoylake raced ahead, mostly thanks to accurate shooting from stalwart Phil Birss. But the Lions’ famed rebounding skills led to a series of unanswered points and by the end of the second third the score was tied at 9-9. Early in the final period, Charlie Devlin socked home two kicks, perhaps the hallmark of the northern game if you don’t count jumping uselessly to the turf. The shaken Red Rocks’ skipper resorted to volfsball attempts. It wasn’t to be, as the Lions secured their first victory of the day on the back of 10 points from the younger Devlin, who was on his way to leading the tournament in scoring.

West Kirby Marine Lakers take on Tranmere Lions

Game 2

Hoylake Red Rocks 9 – 7 West Kirby Marine Lakers

(Score was 7 – 8 on the day)

 

Red Rocks – Marland, P. Birss, S. Birss.

Marine Lakers – Utley, Wareing, C. Devlin, P. Devlin (sub), C. Marshall (sub)

Hoylake went into their second match needing a win to stay in contention. Their chances looked swell: reigning champ Andy Utley was sans teammates because everyone who had promised to play for him had contracted dengue fever on the morning of the tournament. The Marine Lakers drafted Hannah Wareing and the Lions assisted by playing one third each for the West Kirby side. The match started slowly, with 12 consecutive misses (gusts; mental confusion due to subzero temps). It was 0-3 to the Lakers at the end of the first, but the Rocks clawed back to 5-6 with one third to play. Fancying his chances at a game-winning doppel, Phil Birss volleyed the ball over the hedge and into a field of leeks (no points for that in volfsball). At the (metaphorical) final whistle, there was dismay all over Hoylake as the Red Rocks fell to the Lakers 7-8. However, reviewing the match footage revealed some shocking score-keeping in the final third: Hoylake had in fact won 9-7. The score on the day stands though, and the Red Rocks were eliminated. Bullshit! Rob is still pissing vinegar about this but actually it wouldn’t have affected who won the tournament so he should stop complaining to his mum about it.

 

Game 3

Tranmere Lions 9 – 6 West Kirby Marine Lakers

(Score was 10 – 6 on the day)

Lions – Marshall, C. Devlin, P. Devlin

Marine Lakers – Utley, Wareing, Marland, S. Birss (sub)

New Champions – The Tranmere Lions

The third game served as the final: the winner would take home the trophy (not really: Rob doesn’t let it out of his sight). Captain Chris Marshall led by example, scoring all of the Lions’ 5 first period points. At the start of the second, Wareing blocked a ferocious kick from Charlie Devlin, sustaining a bruise on her inner thigh that may yet lead to amputation at the hip. With only one third to play, Tranmere led 8-4 (actually 7-4). Andy Utley, in a desperate bid to make the highlights reel, attempted a flying scissor kick. Unfortunately, there is no highlights reel this year (due to no highlights). Sorry, Andy! At the (again, metaphorical) buzzer, Utley lobbed the ball rimwards. He missed by mere centimetres (approx 17) what could have been a tournament-winning volfsball. No dice. The Tranmere Lions finally tasted delicious victory, cementing their rise from last place in 2015 to absolute and undisputed heroes of the game. Well done, lads.

 

The day ended with a friendly match, during which everyone predictably played their best volfsball of the year. Marshall scored a volfsball to secure a win for his team and it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. “No dickheads” indeed!

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