Fire finish 4th at Hamburg Rumble. Sarje takes us through an epic weekend in Germany.
The team met at the pitches bright and early on Saturday morning to find out that it was raining and a little windy. We had a quick chat before the warm up to discuss the plan for the weekend. Fire were turning up at the tournament having made the final both previous years, so there was a lot of expectation on our shoulders. However, with only 11 players for the whole weekend we knew this was going to be a tough ask. Therefore we had to conserve energy wherever possible. With this in mind we structured quick warmups before games to save the legs, and with only one timeout per game we needed to strategically keep this until the later stages. The main aim was to improve as a team and learn as much as possible, not to win.
Game 1 - Wall City Berlin (15-10)
First game of the weekend was against a strong Berlin squad. We started out on defence, and came out with intensity and purpose. We got an early turn and were clinical on our O to get an early break and secure the first point. We continued with this intensity for the next few points, pulling into a healthy lead. With no half times in the game, it made every break crucial. We traded out the rest of the game to secure a well deserved victory. Having Edwin and JS at the back really gave us a rock-solid base to work from.
It was great to see ex-Fire legend Lukas captaining Berlin! He is in the final year of his BSc and might be moving to Switzerland in the summer once he is finished... He passes on a big hello and hopes everyone is enjoying life.
Game 2 - Heidees (8-15)
By the second game, the weather had turned for the worse. It was wet and windy, something we should be used to. Again we came out firing and managed to get an early turn and score the offence. Special mention to Uph for chasing down a lot of hucks on defence and getting some big blocks (even if he did mack a couple into the end zone for the score!). With the weather deteriorating, Heidees stuck a zone on us. It took us a few points to get used to the zone which allowed Heidees to get a few breaks in a row as we started making some mistakes on offence. By the time we adjusted to the defence it was too late and Heidees pulled away for the victory. We mixed up our own defence, but they had an answer for everything we tried.
They had a very strong squad including some very good handlers throwing pin point hucks, and ripping our defence apart with quick handler movements. I was confident at the end of the game that they were going to make the final (hoping we would be able to have a rematch against them).
Game 3 - Frizzly Bears (15-3)
We went into the final pool game knowing we had to win to get into the quarters. With the weather staying wet and windy, we decided to bring out our own zone defence. With the help of Stefan and Crispy working hard on chase, we completely shut down their offensive flow. Once we got the turn Ant and Jimmer were working well together at the back and we rattled through a few points in a row to get a commanding lead and we were able to see out the game very quickly.
We finished quick enough to see Berlin beat Heidees in an epic sudden death battle! After a few nervous moments, we confirmed that this didn't affect positions and we still finished second behind Heidees. Two hours to rest and prepare.
Game 4 (QF) - Cambo Cakes (15-14)
The final game of the day was against the team who finished top of pool A. The game started at 6:20pm in the evening, so by this point in the evening it was all about mental strength and desire to win. The weather had improved by now and the sun was trying to burn through the cloud cover. Game on.
As was customary by now, we yet again came out on defence, and yet again we came out firing on all cylinders managing to get a couple of breaks right at the start of the game. We soon realised they were using only a few players to run their offense through, the best of which was a tall blond handler who had great disc skills and was very fast. We matched up Baron against him to stop his impact in the game, and he did a fantastic job. This gave us a couple more breaks to take us into a commanding 12-8 lead.
With the end in sight, our offence stated faltering. With a sudden increase in pressure and great pulls from Cambo Cakes, they stuck 3 defence points in on the trot to make it 12-12. However, we carried on working our offensive structures and didn't panic. We managed to trade back up to sudden death at 14-14. This was it. Universe point to make it into the top 4. We took a timeout and called an offence line worthy of the occasion. Some great under cuts gave us lots of yards, and some 'calm' offence at the end allowed us to get within touching distance of the endzone. What happened next can only be described as heart in mouth time. Baron sees Crispy free at the back of the endzone, so lofts a sidearm flick over the stack of players. The disc clears the 2 defence plays by inches, and Crispy gobbled up the disc with seriously worried cries of 'CATCH IT CRISPY' from Baron. That was it. We had won. Mass brawl in the endzone on Crispy.
At the end of the game, we shook hands and even some full on hugs could be witnessed between opposing players. What can I say about this game... I was speechless in the call, and I still cannot express the emotion I feel towards my fellow teammates and also the Cambo Cakes team after that game. It truly was one of the best games I have ever played in. Maybe purely for the delirium the 11 of us felt after achieving what felt like the impossible. Cambo Cakes will be Fire friends for life.
Game 5 (SF) - Uprising (8-12)
Our first game on Sunday morning... After a seriously sleep deprived evening we made it to the field 15 minutes before the semi-final. We were all struggling from the previous day's (evening's) activities, so did a quick warm-up and throwing session before coming out as hard as we could. I remember we traded until about 6-6 and then our legs gave way with the physicality of the Polish team being too much for our 11 man squad. There were also a few calls in the game, which I think distracted us a little after the very spirited teams we had played up until that point. We had to accept that they had the legs on us and they were more worthy of that spot in the final as I don't think we would have done it justice.
Game 6 (3v4) - >>fwd (11-15)
We came up against a very strong squad in the final game of the weekend. >>fwd are a new team from Austria, comprising of upsadaisy players and some other players from around Europe. They had a large squad and looked like formidable opponents. Our tactic of going out hard did not work in this game, and within minutes we were 0-4 down. Lack of concentration on offence really cost us in the early stages. They were a well-drilled side and had a massive guy who took down some incredible D's early on to disrupt our offensive flow.
We went down a couple more breaks and were looking likely to roll over. It was 8-14 and >>fwd were looking to see out the game. However we had other ideas. We were not the sort of team to go down without a fight. We suddenly got some energy from somewhere (for me it felt like an out of body experience). We fought hard on defence and managed to start making a comeback. Martyn even got a sick layout D. Unfortunately it was not enough and that early loss of 4 points ultimately cost us. I was very happy with the final efforts seen at the end of a tough game, even though it looked like we were down and out.
So there we have it. Fire of London finished 4th / 16 with only 11 legends at a very strong European tournament. I am amazingly proud of what we achieved over the weekend and I would personally like to thank each and every one of my teammates for playing alongside me and individually making a difference. You are all Fire legends. For those of you that didn't make it out to Hamburg, you have some serious catching up to do!
Also if you are interested, a quick article on Hamburg Rumble 2013 written by Get Horizontal can be seen here: http://www.gethorizontal.be/news/heidees-win-hamburg-rumble/