Robbie Burns once said “The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry”, now I might have changed some of the words around but the point remains the same. When I last posted an article on here some 2 months ago I was thinking I’d be able to do this on a bi-weekly basis, instead it’s been a bit longer and I wanted to do a piece about something I genuinely wanted to write about, don’t get me wrong there were many things I could have written about but I thought it best not to rush anything. So instead I came up with this idea, after two months of pretty solid work I now face the prospect of 2 months of not doing anything at the weekends so why not go to some sporting events and write about it, after all its a tried and tested formula for people to talk about.
So October rolled round and I hadn’t really been to anything since the end of my cricket season in August and after a quick look round of places to go that I hadn’t been and that preferably weren’t too far away that it took half a day to get there and back and in the end settled on a local basketball derby. Now in Southampton there isn’t a lot to do unless you have several hundred pounds to watch the football team every week, the south coast surprisingly has a lot of basketball teams but none have reached the heady heights in Division One that the now defunct Solent Stars did back in the early noughties. See I grew up watching a lot of the Stars play at Fleming Park Leisure Centre back when I was young because it was a lot cheaper than a lot of the other sports around and had a great family atmosphere, but after a while the crowds started dwindling and the club folded in 2007 in the second tier of English Basketball in the same league as the Worthing Thunder. Worthing were the original local rival just 50 miles to the east the encounters had the usual fiery stuff you’d expect with a lot of away fans making the trip to both games. Now in 2014 and Worthing are still in Division One and two new teams are now playing in Southampton out of what were the old Solent Stars, the team I support Team Solent Suns who are based in the city centre and have strong links with Solent University and the Solent Kestrels who we’ll get to on a later date. I’ve been following Team Solent for 5 years now who currently play in Division Three and in usual fan fashion have seen them get promoted, get relegated, beat teams convincingly and get beat convincingly but watching still gives me the same excitement it did as a child. Being a fan for years I had never been to an away game before and when the draw for the National Cup was made saw Solent drawn away to Worthing and didn’t waste the opportunity to go and support the team, a short train ride to Durrington and I’m there. Admittedly basketball in England isn’t to the same standards as the NBA with teams mainly playing out of leisure centres up and down the land and with the lower league teams not being as well supported as teams higher up the divisions, too my surprise there is a lot of supporters there considering it’s not their usual game night as this is on a Sunday afternoon, unfortunately the only fan there supporting the away team is myself. I hadn’t gone with high expectations I just wanted to see a good game and hope we weren’t beaten too badly, in the end I was pleasantly surprised as Worthing inevitably won 98-79 a scoreline which flatters the Thunder slightly but Solent played well, well above their level and if they put the same level of play into there league games would cruise their division this year. Worthing were lead by Milton Chavis and American brought over for his first senior season in basketball from North Carolina where he had won a high school championship and it was safe to say he was a class apart from anyone else on the court and more than likely going to be the best player in the league this season.
Now to stick to what I kind of started this bloc off with and that’s ice hockey, a few weeks ahead of schedule I went up to Swindon for my first visit of the year to the Link Centre to see the Wildcats play, it has been an up and down start to the season in eerily similar fashion as the start they had last season the Wildcats have been pretty poor at home and magnificent away. For a first trip of the season I went up from Southampton to see Swindon take on the Peterborough Phantoms and the result of my first trip wasn’t the one I had hoped for a 7-2 thrashing, the thing with the EPL this year is it is incredibly unpredictable….. more so than usual, teams seem to be doing better on the road than they are at home and so it proved with the Phantoms visit to the Link. It was very much a smash and grab win for the Phantoms, they outplayed Swindon for large portions of the game and were more than helped out by the fact Swindon seemed to spend the majority of the second period on the penalty kill. Both teams are solid mid table teams this season and Peterborough have taken a good start to the season and run with it, the ever impressive Darius Pliskauskas scored the best goal of the night by deking passed two defence an before slotting home in the smoothest of fashions, it was a rather disappointing way to see the Wildcats lose a lot of the Phantom goals were long shots in on Stevie Lyle the Swindon net minder and then followed in for the rebound. The Link will always be a second home to me, it’s just a shame I live so far from the place and travel can be a right pain sometimes, so the trip back and the week after has been spent mostly going “How did we lose that?” And the simple answer is we had an off weekend, it happens to all teams regardless of sport and this was one of ours you just have to hope you have more good weekends than you do bad ones and you can turn yourself into a championship contender and hopefully in my fully biased opinion the Wildcats will be at the end of the season.
Now this is the first part of a mini almost series of 4 and will see more of basketball, ice hockey and some new looks at the NFL, Football and a WWE house show all in the run up to Christmas, there will probably be other articles at points and in those prepare for some ranting……. Oh yes there will be ranting