Elite Lacrosse and its Place in the Game
I have never been a Nationalist, just about a patriot but as the years go by it becomes harder and harder to embrace England and some of its values.
I do not see me ever waving a Union Jack or a flag of St George. If it was a choice between Timperley winning the Premiership, (or any other silverware), Manchester Utd winning the Premiership or Champions League or even Manchester City winning silverware, all of these would be way ahead of England teams winning anything.
I see sport as a way for people to realise their potential. You should try to be as good as you can be and test yourself against the best. In the times that we live in, that can only be done by playing for your national team in international competition. In Lacrosse that means playing for your country in a World or European Championship. To play against the US or Canada and even the Iroquois makes you realise how challenging it is to become world class. I think that since the World Championships began in 1967 that there have only been two English players selected to World Teams (Cheadle’s Steve Bevington in 1978 and Wilmslow’s Mark Hodkin in 1982). Over the years England have managed to retain their place in the Elite Blue Division and to win all but one European Championships (An aberration!!)
Over the years one of the great advantages that England held over other countries was that it was reasonably easy to get the squad together for a practice session since most of the players lived within a 30 min drive of Stockport Town Hall.
For the Australians with the game centred on Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth organising a practice tested logistics and finance.
For the USA, Canada and Iroquois it is the College and professional game which takes precedence so the opportunities to practice as a squad are very limited. In 2002 professional players were not released from their contracts to play in the World Championships in Australia. (though the USA were still good enough to win with a team of college players.)
I think that the priority for National Governing Bodies and particularly English Lacrosse is to maximise the opportunities for people to play our sport. Retaining the balance between grass roots and elite play is always going to be difficult. At the moment I feel that the balance has been lost. The NGB has made a decision to target resources on the elite and to remove support for the grass roots and in particular the club game.
The reality is that over the years the standard of Lacrosse in England has risen significantly. If anyone disputes this you never saw me and the likes of Mick Moore play. The standard of handling in Junior lacrosse, particularly by defenders, is much higher than it was even 20 years ago. However, Lacrosse in other places, particularly in North America, has increased greatly in both quality and quantity. Lacrosse in the US used to mean Baltimore, with a little bit in Upstate New York and on Long Island. Now Lacrosse is everywhere with large numbers in California, the mid west, Texas, Colorado and the rest. One of the players on the Poynton team recently told me that there were more than 100 High Schools playing Lacrosse around Seattle. Never again will we see a Timperley coach leading a team to beat the whole of Texas, like Alan Holdsworth did in 1998.
The bottom line is that however much an England team practices it will do well to improve on its 5th place finish. So it must be questioned whether it is justified to trash the senior men’s league programme and cancel the U19 Cup programme to accommodate the England team. We could easily do what sports like Rugby do and allow the club game to continue regardless of the national squad activities.
I have always felt the priority should be to be outcome driven not process driven. It would seem we are currently led by a leadership which is wedded to process and to which the outcomes come a distant second. Several clubs have expressed the view that the game has gone back 20 years in the last two. I think this is an exaggeration and it has only gone back around 15 years.
The game in the North West is not in a good state. Concessions even in the Premier Division have become common place. At junior level the game is bedevilled by mongrel teams where clubs combine to field teams (in my book this is akin to cheating) and 8 a side games are common. Both numbers and the quality of play have declined, particularly this season.
Only a few years ago Brooklands was the epitome of a well run club. The evidence of their successful programme is there to be seen in a young and capable 1st team. One can only conjecture as to how good they would be if the 3 or 4 top class players who decided to jump ship to other clubs had stayed loyal. Lower down the club there are obvious problems, the U14 and U16 teams are both mongrel teams and the U12 a very poor team.
It would be good to think that NWLA was developing a strategy to promote grass roots Lacrosse which is not in a good place now that help from the centre has been withdrawn.
Over the years Timperley has developed a large number of overseas contacts and we get as many of them as we can on our mailing database. We do receive comments on our Newsletter so at least someone reads the stuff!!
This week we have received an email from Ben Savage who played for Timperley and England in the 1990s and now lives in Perth, Western Australia.
“I enjoy my Timperley newsletter which drops into my email weekly. I just wanted to say how delighted I am to see Timperley on top of the first division. Something I never got to enjoy despite our best efforts but I think it’s a testament to 30 plus years of club building by you - well done and hope you are there at the end of the season.”
Friends from the Fallston exchange are regular commentators although they have withdrawn their threat to come and live in the UK as they have decided that our government is just as bad as theirs.
LDOs still in contact are Brett Davy, Morgan Mohrman, Monty Hill and Chris Merghart.
Dwayne Hicks, another ex LDO, who now has a senior role in the mid west, is keen to develop better links with Timperley as a source of US player coaches and to establish a route for young British players to attend US college.
Qualified or competent – more thoughts
The few people who read my stuff will know that I feel that to insist that a referee should be qualified rather than competent is a serious mistake. It does not support or facilitate the overriding outcome objective of increasing the number of people playing Lacrosse.
However, never did I ever believe that the argument around this matter would involve “fake news” not to mention “Project Fear”. For heaven’s sake this is Lacrosse; a sport which has always been run by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. We want more people to be able to play our sport; not to be frightened off by a load of lies and falsehoods.
Facebook has recently carried postings stating that rugby referees had been subject to legal action because of their officiating. Absolutely not true. And that there were soccer referees in a similar situation. Again not true. There were even hints that Lacrosse insurance would not offer the same protection that is enjoyed by other sports. Again not true.
Generally speaking, the Law and the Police (not the same thing) want nothing to do with sport and are more than happy for a sport to implement its own disciplinary actions.
It was also stated on Facebook that there were Lacrosse players who were suffering long term health conditions due to injuries suffered because of officiating shortcomings. If you know of any such people I would like to hear of them.
I am in favour of recruiting more refs. It is a challenge in most sports. (I have never understood why a Lacrosse game requires 3 referees whilst rugby and soccer at even the highest level requires only one. Please do not tell me there are linesmen. It is not the same thing.) Parents are an obvious source but one of the immediate effects of fast tracking them is that in the short term the standard of officiating declines. I always told senior players that reffing junior games was easy as the players did not know the rules. In recent games U12 players have known the rules better than some of the new refs.
It was also stated on Facebook that most clubs had got their houses in order and identifying Timperley as one of the few who had not. Admittedly the hard line has enabled us to recruit more refs but my idea of a “house in order” is one which fields teams and allows people to enjoy a game of Lacrosse. In this I would claim that Timperley is the only club to have its house in order.
Russia and all that.
Russia is inevitably a major player in modern international politics.
Our Brexiteers often claim that our role in the world is shaped by our part in winning 2nd World War. We were certainly a significant player but we would have never survived if it had been UK v Germany. The real key players were USA and Russia. The USA brought economic might which has been a key component of every major war since the US Civil War. Russia brought a willingness to accept very large levels of casualties. In WW2 the UK casualties were around 450,000 including civilians, the US casualties including civilians were around 418,500. Russian casualties were an unbelievable 20,000,000.
A similar pattern was evidenced in Afghanistan where UK casualties were 546; Russian casualties were 15,000 with Afghan civilian casualties 2,000,000.
These figures frame the Russian attitude to today’s world. The collapse of the Warsaw Pact is seen by Putin as a wrong which has to be remedied. NATO took over the leadership of previous Eastern Bloc countries and is seen as a threat to Russia.
It is clear from the recent Russian election that the vast majority of Russians prefer the stability that comes with Putin to the chaos which existed in their country in the 1990s.
Those who are seen to have betrayed Russia are deemed to be traitors, hence the Salisbury situation. Again Theresa May has demonstrated her failings. The idea that the UK will be a focus for international outrage and reaction are pie in the sky. Already we see countries rushing to congratulate Putin on his election victory and Trump saying that he had had a long and constructive conversation with Putin and that he anticipated a face to face meeting with the Russian President. Salisbury was never mentioned! I think it is called “realpolitik.”
I think that TM’s response to Salisbury would have been more credible if she had renounced the millions of pounds donated to the Tories by Russian oligarchs, many supportive of Putin. Instead she wants the FA to withdraw the England team from the World Cup – an idea which will receive a lot of international support!!
We, perhaps naively, believe that everyone should live in a democracy. I wonder what the inhabitants would say in Iraq, Syria, Libya, the Balkans and other places when offered the stability of despotism or the alternative?
A little bit of Brexit
The Brexit process goes on and on. For the Remainers the process could go on for ever. If Brexit actually happens then for many of us the fight will then start to regain entry into the EU. The idea that the country will come together to make the best of a brave new world seems to be a product of a total fantasy.
As the world moves on then the May government’s negotiating skills seems more and more to involve capitulation. As she “celebrates” the agreement on transition it is clear that the fishing industry is seen as a dispensable negotiating chip.
I have generally been of the opinion that those who voted leave are uneducated racists. I am however, altering my view in that I think that the problem is our politicians who are a dishonest and, incompetent bunch of people no matter which party they belong to.
Certainly TM cannot run a normal government as evidenced by the NHS, the economy, education, housing, transport, defence - the list is endless. She is making a fiasco of Brexit and clearly has no grasp of international diplomacy.
Updated 15:27 - 21 Mar 2018 by Tom Slater