Saturday, 31 December 2016

Bradfurd Bulls visit the Park Beach Pirates for a 'friendly' pre-season match

Fumbling one’s balls… A report for Spike Magazine

Evening Violent Sport loving fans…
New Year’s Eve Eve saw the Coach Stevie Fase’s ‘Bradfurd Bulls’ travel for a ‘friendly’ (only 3 players died – but more of that later) pre-season game at the ‘Park Beach Pirates’ home away from home (no teams would travel to play in the far southern lands so they had to make a base in the ‘Top Half’ and ended up in Ponder’s End - no one is sure who Ponders was, but the place is probably representative of his end).

Bradfurd Bulls

Park Beach Pirates

A large crowd of 18000 citizens gathered at the ‘Beach’ stadium, numbers no doubt swollen by the post ‘Mid-Winter’ festivities. A Chaos Dwarf team the ‘Bulls’ have been around for a good 15 years and their Head Coach is a veteran, once even working for the Games Wizards (GW) for a good number of years. In contrast the Pirates are a new team to the ‘Top Half’ game and are adjusting to the differences in play style (the ‘Bottom Half’ game played by the Pirates used rules from around 30 years ago and many teams also play the derivative ‘Dreadball’ code). Their Head Coach Dicky Jonus is used to a faster flowing, risk driven game – will be interesting to see how this style holds up in the ‘Top Half’.

An unusual start to the game saw the Pirates win the toss and elect to kick, Jonus was later to reveal this was in game plan; kick to the dwarfs, hold them and prevent a touchdown and then hit them with a score in the mid second half leaving Fase with no time to come back with a touchdown of their own. If this strategy was to work it needed the Pirates to pressure the ball all the time, not letting the dwarves build a cage and then release one of their fast moving centaur. It seemed the crowd were to be a big factor with the mass of home fans lifting their team from the start.

Kick off roll saw the Pirates gain an extra re-roll, giving them 4 in total.

A solid kick off saw the ball sail down the field only for some unusual spin on the ball to turn it boomerang like and land just inside the Bulls half.

            A special card was played that deviated the landing point 2d6 instead of the normal one!

It looked as if the Bulls would be able to quickly form the dreaded cage in an advantageous position, and that Dicky’s strategy would backfire very quickly.

Don't worry he needs a 6 to intercept - damn!

However, a rookie Bulls lineman fumbled the pick-up and it was quickly pounced on by ‘Yungie’ the Pirates open side Blitzer and handed off to Dunkel the thrower. A melee quickly developed which enabled Spinee, the Pirates main catcher, to dart into the Endzone and await for what had to be the first touchdown of the game. Under pressure as the pocket collapsed around him the Pirate’s thrower cocked his arm, leaping around the Bull Centaur in front of him and released the ball in a tight spiral, the crowd roared. But the Bulls had a few tricks down their pads and the Centaur back kicked a lineman up in into the sky and they plucked the spiralling ball out of the air for a rare interception.

Finding themselves, somewhat surprisingly, with the ball and half the half left on the time candle the Bulls swept right in a loose cage. With most of the Pirates near to the other touchline the cage had nothing but fresh pitch in front of it. Again it looked as if the game would get its first Touchdown.

Unbeknown to Fase though his main Centaur had a slight problem. He had been caught by an ‘imp inconographer’ (operated by Boyesy, the Pirates ‘fixer’) in a rather compromising position with a number of livestock items in a local club the night before the game. In order to obtain the original sketches he had been told that on a signal from the side-line he had to ‘become a pirate’ for a while! Boysey standing on the side-line shouting, “What a loada bull…” appears to have been the signal as at that moment the Centaur seemed to ‘bolt’, out of control (or so it seemed) he back kicked the ball carrier so hard it actually killed the poor soul and the ball bobbled free. Obviously the crowd erupted at this point and then  Spinee rushed free again and jumped up and down widely in the Endzone… The crowd roared, all Dunkel had to do was pick up the ball and throw a short pass to Spinee. Bending over to scoop the ball up there was no pressure at all on the Pirates’ thrower, his extra training (sure hands) would help… Wouldn’t it?

Dunkel scooped the ball up and looked downfield to see his receiver waving in the end zone still… Again the ball spiralled perfectly down the field. However, just at that moment it appeared a coin (still in its leather pouch with lots of other coins) smacked Spinee on the back of the head – just enough to make her juggle and then drop the pass!

After the crowd had stopped playing around with the ball it eventually ended up in the hands of a Bulls’ lineman. But the referee bought an end to a scintillating, if very low scoring, first half. Jonus’ tactic had worked 50% at least…

A long, long kick got the second half underway, forcing the Pirates thrower to drop back deep. However, a nice pocket was set up and a receiver skipped away down the touch-line. The Bulls dealt out some punishment but the pocket held as Dunkel (the thrower) moved up into it. Yet again the crowd roared as it seemed the touch-down pass was all set up. Again they groaned, this time the pass went astray… And was pounced on deep in their own half by the Bulls. Setting up a decent cage the dwarves set off up-field, but were undone by a blind side blitz and then the Pirates blitzer caught the loose ball and headed for the end-zone. In the furious few minutes that followed though the ball was knocked free and the Dwarves mounted one last attack, sweeping down their right flank. An assisted tackle sent the ball flying into the crowd where the Bulls’ fans were! Doing their best for their team they launched the ball into the Pirates’ end-zone! But alas time was too short for the Bulls to get to it and the last minutes of the game were a good old punch up in the middle of the pitch!

So folks, there you have it, hardly the ‘friendly’ it was billed to be with numerous players KO’d and two Bulls and one Pirate requiring the assistance of an undertaker. No touch-downs but the crowd were kept well entertained throughout with a number of near, near misses. All we can say is that if this is a sign of things to come, then the season ahead is going to be awesome, absolutely awesome…

MVP went to Katrina the Ogre whose first game saw her putting numerous big hits in, killing two opposing line men and opening many a gap! See Spike Magazine for her profile....

Here are some random pictures sketched by the crowd of the action:


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