Eight of Worcester Crocodiles Senior Men travelled to Liverpool’s Albert Docks on Saturday 31st July to take part in the first weekend of the MANUP! series of outdoor tournaments. This was the teams first competitive water polo action since lockdown.
The outdoor environment was a novel experience for many of the Crocs contingent, as was playing against a number of teams whom Worcester would never have played before, including a number of established British Water Polo League sides.
The MANUP! tournament runs slightly different rules, mainly to speed the games up. The most significant differences were games comprising of a single period of 8-minutes of running clock, 6 a side teams with 2 subs maximum. Pitches are shorter at 18m and there would be no centres, restarts are from the goalkeeper. Shot clocks are 20 seconds rather than the normal 30 seconds and there would be no corners.
Crocs adapted well to these rules and came out flying in their opening game with a thumping 6-1 win over Blackpool – Morgan Wells opening the scoring with further goals added through Dan Day, Toby Elston and Toby Chilcott.
Next up were Tyldesley, in a very tight game a late goal from captain Dan Mason secured Crocs a 6-5 victory.
Unfortunately Crocs were unable to maintain their winning run and lost out 6-5 to Bridgefield 1st in game 3 of the day.
This narrow defeat ultimately cost Crocs top spot in their group and a place in the day’s final.
However, Crocs didn’t let the disappointment hinder them and after a slow start, eventually ran out comfortable 8-3 winners in the final group game against Liverpool to secure 2nd spot in Group A and a third place play off match against Bridgefield 2nd (runner up of Group B).
A battling performance against Bridgefield 2nd almost saw Crocs claim the 3rd place play off win in normal time, however a late, controversial penalty – which Bridgefield 2nd converted (to the joy of the ‘home’ supporters on the sidelines) – sent the game to a penalty shootout.
George Jones stepped up as the replacement goalkeeper for the shootout in place of the up till then ever present Donald Day, with Morgan Wells, Dan Mason and Ollie Chilcott taking on the responsibility of the penalties. After 3 penalties a piece, the shootout was tied at 3-3. Morgan Wells confidently dispatched his 2nd penalty on the second round (and Crocs’ fourth), leaving Bridgefield needing to score to keep them in the game. Bridgefield’s penalty was ultimately missed – the slimy/salty match ball slipping from the player’s grasp as he shaped to shoot – handing Crocs the 4-3 shootout victory and third place in their debut appearance in the tournament!
To finish 3rd out of 10 teams at an event such as this was a great achievement for the side, but irrespective of placing, the main thing was that a great, enjoyable day of polo was had by all. Hopefully more success will come from the team in the coming months as they get back to playing more competitive polo after the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Great achievement, Dan Mason (Captain), Don Day, Dan Day, Toby Elston, Ollie Chilcott, Toby Chilcott, George Jones & Morgan Wells.