29th Jan 2011: Edinburgh Tournament

This weekend saw Edinburgh University Korfball Club host its annual Edinburgh International Tournament, arguably the highlight of Scotland’s korfballing calendar. This year there was capacity for another four clubs, boosting the line-up to twenty-four teams, the largest Edinburgh Tournament to date.

The participants were drawn from a wider range of korfballing backgrounds this year, with Rotterdam’s Erasmus University and Stockholm Korfball Klubb adding a truly international flavour and Manchester Warriors, Snakebite and the Original Ruff Shakers bringing experience from the top leagues in England. Also competing strongly were some of the best university teams from around the UK, notably Northern champions Nottingham and Southern champions Birmingham. The University of Edinburgh turned out three teams, with many old faces from the last decade of university korfball reuniting to dust off their boots and form the University of Edinburgh Old Boys.

Saturday’s games saw four groups of six teams playing in a round-robin format in games at the Centre for Sport and Exercise Pleasance and at St. Leonard’s Land. Notable performances from the University’s teams saw the first team beat a very strong Birmingham City side, the second team taking Edinburgh City, the current Scottish Korfball Association League leaders, to the wire, eventually losing by a single goal, and the third team beating UEA, the runners up in this season’s Southern qualifiers for first team nationals. Every group was hotly contested, with the Original Ruff Shakers finishing Saturday’s play as the only team to have won all five of their games, with Manchester Warriors and Wannabe Scottish, a tournament team of some of the best players from the Scottish league in the last few years, also performing strongly.

Based on Saturday’s results the twenty four teams were split into three pools, with the top two from each group going into the competition for first to eighth place, the eight middle teams competing for ninth to sixteenth place and each group’s least successful teams fighting each other to avoid the dreaded wooden spoon. The University of Edinburgh’s first and third teams placed fourth in their respective groups, whilst the second team could only manage fifth, falling into the bottom third. Finishing in the middle third guaranteed the third team, known as the Tigers, a record finish for a University third team, a remarkable achievement for a team comprised of almost all players new to the sport at the beginning of the academic year.

Saturday night brought one of the highlights of the Edinburgh International tournament, the ceilidh social, which this year took place at Dancebase, with music provided by the fantastic Edinburgh ceilidh band Folk It, followed by korfball’s resident DJ, Chris Kay. The majority of players from outside the Scottish korfball scene had never experienced ceilidh dancing before, but took no coaxing onto the floor, despite a few aching muscles from the day’s exertions.

A move to Meadowbank Sports Centre for Sunday’s knockout and placing phase of the tournament allowed two games to be played side-by-side, creating a spectacular atmosphere. The University’s teams fought hard, with the third team recording a tense 1-0 victory against Stockholm and the first team winning their final game against Snakebite 5-4, with the winning goal coming fifteen seconds before the final whistle, courtesy of a stunning shot from Sarah McKeand. The second team somehow fell into a truly momentous final game, the play-off for the wooden spoon, recording a tense win against Leeds University in a dramatic penalty shootout decider, with Stephen Carr scoring the winner. The University’s final placings saw the first team in eleventh, the third team in a record-breaking fourteenth position and the second team finishing a mighty twenty-third out of twenty-four.

The third/fourth play-off and the final were played on a larger court, with the bleachers pulled out for the assembled teams to watch. A close game between the Original Ruff Shakers and Leeds City was decided by a penalty shootout, with Leeds taking third place, whilst the final was dominated by a rampant Manchester Warriors team, who blew Wannabe Scottish away, with the final score of 9-1 not at all flattering this year’s champions.

Special mentions must go to Elliot Samson, who won the tournament Most Valuable Player trophy for his performances for Edinburgh second and third teams, newcomers Stockholm who won the Most Valuable Team tournament, which was decided by a vote by all of the participating teams and to Tournament Secretary, Graham Morris, who put so much hard work into making sure that the whole event was a success.

All-in-all it was decided that this year’s tournament was one of the best ever, with some polished extras pushing standards just a bit higher, especially the presence of complimentary sports masseurs from Telford college, who managed to provide a bit of relaxation, as well as keeping everyone moving for two days.

The korfball club would also like to wish University of Edinburgh players Kyle Crombie, Catherine Helme, Kathryn Maltby, Graham Morris, Will Lawton, Fern Sinclair and Sarah McKeand the best of luck representing the Scotland under 23 team this coming weekend in Holland.