Men's Blues - Wednesday 8th February 2017 - BUCS South Prem - Bath Away
Oxford vs Bath
*Defender running at him. Split left. Fake high. Fake low. Fake high. Twine.*
Matthew Jamshed, a 24-year-old chemistry enthusiast, woke with a light sweat. "You're excited, big boy" said Laura, his girlfriend. "Lacrosse again? When can I meet the team?"
"Come on, how many times? You know you can't do that,” he replied, apologetic but firm.
Matthew rolled out of bed and staggered into the kitchen of his two-up two-down. Having picked at the chips and gravy which had been yesterday's hot meal, he heated some hot pot for the day. For Matthew, it was fuel. But it was also more than that. It was nostalgia.
You see, dear reader, Matthew was from The North. In fact, he was an Oldham lad come south – a northman experiencing the high society of the south. He’d come to the dreaming spires a few years ago, but remained something of a duck out of water. He felt out of place and, truth be told, he was. Hot pot kept him grounded and reminded him who he really was, underneath the veneer of respectability that he was required to adopt.
It was lacrosse, in fact, which had proved something of a lifeline for Matthew. It provided the athletic release he so desperately wanted, and it allowed him to fit in at Oxford. Matthew had been elected social sec (unopposed, mind) for the season, and he used the normal Wednesday night socials to take the edge off a hard week. Mild alcoholism? "Mild" was the operative word in Matthew's mind. "Go on then, you absolute chopper" was the only form of self-talk he knew.
Laura's good luck wishes brought him back to the present with a jolt. "Cheers love," Matthew's dulcet northern tones called back. Today was a big day. Today was (mini-)tour day. Today was the first day of the rest of his life, and Matthew knew it.
*Defender running at him. Split left. Fake high. Fake low. Fake high. Top ched’.*
Matthew woke with a light sweat. "You're excited," said George, fellow wildling and Matthew's best friend, from somewhere below him. "I can literally feel your excitement for today."
"One bin down, two bins to go. Of course I'm excited," Matthew replied, using the dreary tone of excitement which is the sole privilege of the Manchester man.
The OULC Men's Lacrosse Team had beaten a very Welsh team the night before, and were ready to deal with the next occidental red-brick: Bath university, home to lacrosse's most rugby lacrosse team, would be a formidable challenge. Having won the league the year before, they were physical and, well, physical.
Matthew was ready though. "Come on, Chops."
Having fuelled up on muesli and caffeine at the surprisingly decent YMCA, and high on gothic clerestory and flying buttresses (Bath cathedral, with over a millennium of history, had proved an inspiration for the young men), the team's mood was quintessentially Anglican: pious and chaste, they were devoted to their monarchical cause. Victory was their monarch. The 2016/17 Oxford lacrosse playbook was their Book of Common Prayer. They wouldn't be chaste much longer.
By mid-morning the team had seen enough West country culture, and they’d done with Greggs. George had completed his barbarian pre-game ritual, and Howells had had more caffeine than any man that size could possibly handle. They were ready, and proceeded to the pitch, which proved to be more mud than grass. Lovely.
With reinforcements from Oxford, the team were confident and ridiculously pumped. The opening minutes were, as predicted, tense and physical. The pitch favoured a Bath-style of lacrosse, and Oxford struggled to find their rhythm offensively. A few careful adjustments later combined with a good amount of grit, and the Blues were beginning to control the game with poise. The goals started to come, slowly but surely, and the defense settled into their usual high pressure intensity.
Led from the back by standout goalie Steve Hayes, back briefly from Canterbury, the defense confidently gave up good shots and stripped the Bath attack countless times. Tim Sweere shouted incomprehensibly in Dutch. Monty chatted up the attackman he was supposed to be marking. Dom Dom went smash smash. Sean wore a golden helmet. And Kersh used his exceptionally big frame to good effect. Defensive midfielders Shamus and Matthew, OULC’s engine room, cleared the ball, broke some ankles, and sat some lads down.
Some more lacrosse was played, and then it was half time. At 4-0 up, the game was still close, so the captains gave some inspiration (think: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIvRkjOd1f8).
Having lost one warrior to a coffee overdose, the Oxford team battled on through the second half. Characterised by long periods of possession ending in a goal, the Bath defense started to get frustrated. Veteran attackmen JT used all his wily style to take advantage. Toby scored some goals. Cob bullied his defender with a vehemence which made even his own teammates wince. And production continued from midfield: Ed did his normal stuff; George Dury twirled a lot between telling anyone who would listen that he’d been at Durham, and some Americans there had won some cup which was vaguely impressive.
Even more lacrosse was played, and the match ended 8-0 to the Blues.
The team took the opportunity to stock up on the last day before the drinking-ban began, and having definitively showed the Bath players who had more time to get really good at downing pints, they took their leave and headed home. Antics happened on the bus, and more antics happened that evening.
This author has been told that it would probably be inappropriate to write a match-report for a crewdate, but suffice it to say the third bin was enthusiastically carried out, and it topped off a stupidly fun couple of days.
Matthew sighed happily, and thought to himself, *Wow that was so fun. The lacrosse guys are great. Maybe one day Laura could actually meet them. I mean, what's the worst that could happen...?*
Match report by Gabe Barrie