Manchester Mystics

Coach Jim plays guess the player in his latest Mystics U14 report

I’ve gone for a slightly different approach for this week’s report on Mystics U14 at Tameside Royals. Instead of labelling players by name, I’m using letters. This means that instead of doing housework, DIY or gardening, you can spend your valuable leisure time matching the letter to a player. If this goes well, I’ll probably branch out into doing party games!

Several Mystics arrived carrying niggles as well as their bags but such is their commitment that each one was resolved to play their part for their team. Player A is experiencing dental problems but she ignored those to open the scoring and be a part of a near faultless team effort in the first quarter. B is hampered (not the Christmas variety) with more deformed fingers than a crushed box of Cadbury’s biscuits. Even so, she rebounded like a demon at every opportunity. C also turned up with dodgy digits yet played the game of her life in the first half, drawing gasps from the crowd with her athleticism.

D has to monitor herself constantly but once again put this aside to give her all and show what a good passer she is. E has been unwell for longer than I can remember (which could be as little as 5 minutes ago) but you would never know it by watching her play. She made a nuisance of herself- in a good way – at both ends of the court and is almost back to her best. F has a poorly back but did not let that stop her doing all she could to make a positive contribution. Her attitude is exemplary.

G gave us her usual assistance thanks to her thoughtful posting up and ability to go right or left. H again played with a maturity way beyond her years and shot more accurately than Wyatt Earp. I (not me, the letter) had to work hard to counter the aggressive double team thrown at her. Almost inevitably, her undoubted class and ability ensured that she did so to devastating effect.

J has more energy than a pack of Duracell batteries and today she showed her ex-team mates what they are missing with an excellent all-round performance. K once more proved what an intelligent player she is. (That narrows it down!) Her decision making, passing and defensive rebounding were as good as ever. Our team is blessed with more than our fair share of talented individuals who can turn a game on its head. Suffice to say that L did so in this encounter with an incredible display.

So what did all this add up to? Tameside’s best moment in the first quarter came very early when they equalised at 2-2. The next 9 minutes for them was like my house when I took the last apple and orange out with me to come to the game – fruitless! Our team played at a level that bordered on faultless and some of the passing had to be seen to be believed. It resulted in a 23-2 lead after 10 minutes. Our dominance extended into the second quarter so that by half-time we led 49-12.

With 12 Mystics to try to cater for (which sounds like a large dinner party), I used more subs than our enemies did in World War 2 for the rest of the game. Consequently, we understandably lost much of our fluency during the third period and Tameside did well to take advantage, showing commendable resilience to only lose the quarter 16-15. I stayed with my revolving door policy in the fourth. It could have resulted in a repeat of our players not knowing whether they were coming or going but to their credit, our less experienced members equipped themselves admirably to win the final quarter 18-8.

Thanks to James, Sam and Carys for all they do and thanks also to our wonderful band of supporters who are always there for us.