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2013/14 season review

Newquay’s first season has drawn to a close, and what a journey it has been for Cornwall’s first and only competitive Handball club; finishing with two wins, a draw, and some highly competitive narrow defeats. Earning the club an impressive 5th in the South & West Development League.

All of this against teams based in large cities as far away as Oxford, Cardiff, Bath, Bristol and Southampton. These long established clubs benefit from the backing of major universities, outstanding existing facilities, and experienced players from all over the world. Make no mistake, in such a short space of time Newquay’s achievements have exceeded all expectations.

Olympic Legacy

NHC is a shining example of Olympic Legacy; proof that bringing top level sport to the country can inspire. Handball was one of the surprise success stories from London 2012, captivating a consistently sold-out Copper Box and enthralling millions of TV viewers. Clubs throughout the country saw a spike in participation; Bristol reported 44 new players coming to training in the weeks following The Games. New clubs sprouted up here and there, but where many of them fell from lack of funding/facilities/coaching expertise, Newquay have gone from strength to strength.

Luck has played it’s part, however, with handball genius Jürgen Koenen moving to Cornwall at the point of the clubs inception. Without his expert guidance as coach there’s no way the NHC would have progressed to the level they are now.

The first training session was held at Newquay Treviglas Sports Hub in October 2012, with 18 willing participants, a bag of Handballs kindly purchased by Worlds Apart, and a large dose of blind enthusiasm. The evening was a success, thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Sessions continued weekly with mats up against the walls until some inflatable goals were acquired.

At this time Plymouth were also beginning to develop the sport through the University and Marjon’s college. Within a few weeks a three way friendly tournament was on the cards. NHC’s first taste of team Handball, and a sign of things to come.

Tough times

It wasn’t always plain sailing, with a number of founding members moving away from Cornwall for work reasons. Some weeks training consisted of only four or five people. It’s hard enough to set up any new club, but to set up a new club and a whole new sport in a region is seriously tough. Zero existing facilities, zero equipment, zero funding, zero experience for most of the players.

However, there has always been a feeling that Newquay are building something special, pioneering a new sport for Cornwall. Through word of mouth, and support from The Newquay Voice, Radio Cornwall and other local press, news spread that Newquay have a Handball club, and numbers slowly increased.

Gaining experience

Without any local competition it’s hard for a new club to gain match experience, so another friendly was arranged with Plymouth. This time a full 60minute encounter. It was a great day for this team of newbies, starting the game slowly but ending with a flourish, and leaving players wanting more.

Pioneering Sandball

The development of Beach Handball is another major factor in the club’s rise. With the abundance of stunning beaches in Newquay, and the sport of Handball progressing nicely, it was a no-brainer to combine the two.
Beach Handball is a variation of the main sport; Sandball is to Handball what 20-20 Cricket is to Test Matches. A fast and fun game which rewards flamboyance, awarding double points for extravagant goals.
News of the sport spread far and wide, with magnificent media coverage, including an interview on Simon Mayo’s drive time Radio 2 show.
On the 2nd August 2014 Newquay will be hosting the second annual Sandball Day in conjunction with Watergate Bay Hotel. Another great day of fast and furious entertainment is guaranteed!

Joining the competitive league

With so many hurdles to jump in order to get the club ready for competition, NHC would have been forgiven for deciding not to take part in competitive Handball for a season, and focus on playing friendlies. But that is not how Newquay roll. They take the bull by the horns and drive forward, solving any issues as they arise.
And there were many issues. Where do they play? How to they fund themselves? Do they have enough players? Can they compete? Do they dare?
Handball is played on a 40m x 20m indoor court, something the UK – let alone Cornwall – is not well equipped with. With this lack of facilities in mind, England Handball allows teams to play on a minimum 33m x 18m sized court. This still limited Newquay’s choices, and ruled out a local home venue. After much to-ing and fro-ing, weighing up options like Carne Brae and Truro School’s new facility, they finally settled in Bodmin Dragon Centre.
On to the next obstacle: lines. Luckily Newquay winger Eddie Percy-Hughes came up with an ingenious contraption for applying Duct Tape in a curve for create the D’s.
Ideas for score charts, timers and displays came from Lee Springett and Kevin Welsh. Add to this willing officials Rowan Blewett and Hauke Moll, Devon Handball’s Aym Dupuy as an expert ref, and Newquay’s home set up was pretty slick.

Off to a flyer – almost

Newquay’s debut competitive game was away to Bath, last season’s champions. The new boys caught Bath by surprise, taking them all the way to 18-18 with one minute remaining. Only to loose by one last minute goal. With a more experienced players – and a better qualified referee – NHC would have been celebrating an unlikely victory.
Two defeats followed as Newquay baptism of fire continued against Bristol and Oxford respectively. Then came the visit of Cardiff to the Cornish Handball arena, Newquay produced their finest hour so far with a magnificent 24-13 victory.
This form continued into the return fixture with Bath, who were a much improved side at this point in the season. Newquay went down 30-39, but an excellent performance provided inspiration for the forthcoming Bristol encounter; which turned out to be a memorable day.
The culmination of a year of hard work, training, and dedication. NHC took Bristol, a team with a long history of league titles, right to the wire, earning a 20-20 draw away from home. This result turned heads throughout the country, and put Newquay on the Handball map.
Next up was an epic weekend of Handball as Southampton brought their huge squad down to Newquay for a double header. Southampton’s strength in depth proved too much as they came in victorious, with an 8 point margin in the first and a mere 3 point game in the second.
The final game of the season saw Newquay travel to Cardiff for their second clash. NHC once again came out on top, this time by an immense 36 points to 10. Apt reward for the players, the coach, the committee and officials. Everyone involved has played their part Newquay’s rise from nothing, to a nationally recognised and respected Handball team.

The future

The 2013/14 season is a magnificent building block for the future. With an under 16’s club, and young players coming through such as Ben Haddrell, the future is bright for Newquay – and Cornish Handball in general.

Exhibition match against English champions

Newquay are proud to announce that national league and cup champions, Salford HC are will be entertaining crowds the Bodmin Dragon Centre in an end-of-season exhibition match. Newquay’s players will be lining up against 2 Olympians, 7 GB/ENG internationals and 5 current U21 GB Squad members, plus an Olympic and current GB coach. It is a spectacle not to be missed.
The game will be on the 14th June, with under 16 Handball workshops to be held on the 15th. Both are to be held in Cornwall’s one and only Handball arena, The Bodmin Dragon Centre.

Cardiff 10 – 36 Newquay

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A magnificent inaugural season for Newquay was capped off with a stunning victory, giving them the double over an experienced Cardiff team.

The game was a fitting send off for NHC’s David Santos, who is moving away from the area for work. ‘D’ will be missed, not just for his unbelievable shooting ability – the Santos Boom – but because he’s a top guy too.

Newquay were quick to take an early lead in their pursuit of victory. A major factor in this successful first season is their solid defence, patrolled expertly by Tristan Mullar-Forster, who captained the side on the day.

NHC’s lead steadily grew throughout the first half, though the team felt they had more to give; their hard work on the training ground was not being fully translated to the match. Going in to the break 16- 4 up, the scene was set for Newquay to rack up a big score.

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The second period saw Newquay tighten up their passing, eliminating mistakes and playing quick ball to create space for each other. The result of this improvement: more goals. Every player, barring goalkeeper Geoff Muskett, has their name on the score sheet.

A 26 goal advantage for visiting Newquay is a remarkable representation of the teams progress in just one season. A great job by coach Jürgen Koenen, and a testament to the dedication from all the players.

Credit to Cardiff for hosting a good tempered and enjoyable final game. Newquay now look to June for a very exciting event – to be announced shortly, it’s going to be massive!

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Newquay squad:

Geoff Muskett
Jürgen Koenen
Adolf Botar
David Santos
Ben Haddrell
Kevin Welsh
Lee Springett
Tristan Mullar-Forster

Cardiff vs Newquay 13th April

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Newquay head to Cardiff for their last game of the season. After emphatically defeated their opponents on home turf  xx-xx, NHC will be looking for a similar result to cap off an impressive first season.

 

Newquay 24 – 32 Southampton

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If it were possible to erase the first 10 minutes of the game, Newquay would be celebrating a stunning one goal victory.

Sadly, the fact of the matter is that in the opening stages Newquay failed to get into the game at all. Southampton players enjoyed freedom to shoot almost unchallenged from close range. The visitors soon sailed to a 9-0 lead.

Newquay finally kicked into gear, their defensive lineup bolsered by the returning Tristan Mullar-Forster, and player-coach Jürgen Koenen. Newquay also welcomed Aym Dupuy to the game, Devon Handball‘s head honcho. Aym proved a thorn in the side of Southampton all game, firing in a hatfull of goals.

After this initial spell, the remainder of the first half was even, going into the break 8-16 in favour of Southampton. Momentum was beginning to swing in favour of the home side. The second period saw this energy grow, goals from Eddie Percy-Hughes, Kevin Welsh, Jon Hyatt and the growing presence of Adolf Botar took it to a 4 point game.

With 15 minutes remaining and Newquay in the ascendency, Koenen took a major fall under a strong challenge from a Southampton defender. This was the end of the game for Newquay’s talented coach, who had been masterminding the Newquay fightback.

After the stoppage Newquay were unable to find quite the same level of game, chances going astray and mistakes creeping in meant the game inched away. However,in the closing stages Dupuy provided the highlight of the match, spectacularly diving into the area, catching and finishing a cross-area pass from Hyatt. Pure class.

A defeat, but an encouraging performance – barring the first 10mins. The good news is, revenge could be just round the corner, with the return fixture on Sunday 22nd. The encounter throws off at 2.30pm at the Dragon Centre, Bodmin. Spectators welcome, fireworks guaranteed.

Bristol 20 – 20 Newquay. Match report

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In Newquay’s first encounter with Bristol, the leagues most decorated team ran out clear winners by 10 goals. That was three months ago, a long time in the life of a young team. This even-stevens result from the second confrontation is a measure Newquay’s rapid progress.

A magnificent first half from Newquay took the home side by surprise. Newquay soon siezed a two goal lead through David Santos, Newquay’s fire-power from 9 metres. Further goals from Lee Springett, Jürgen Koenen, and supreme fast break goals from Eddie Percy-Hughes kept the score chart ticking along nicely. Newquay were threatening from all over the field, from Ben Haddrell on the right wing, to back player Adolf Botar, to Kevin Welsh – bagging another handful of goals from the thick of the battle on the edge of the circle.

The home team are very strong, favouring an extremely physical style of play. This could have intimidated a lesser team, Newquay however, were able to adapt their style to match the physical threat from Bristol. The powerful defensive partnership of Tristan Mullar-Forster and Koenen took the sting out of Bristol’s shooting. Limiting their top player to long range efforts, which were dealt with expertly by goalkeeper Geoff Muksett, continuing his good form from the Bath game.

At points during the first half Newquay were three goals up. However with one or two missed chances from the away side, Bristol will feel happy to have gone into the break only one down, 10-11 and all to play for.

Bristol came out in the second period determined to avoid the embarrassment of being beaten by a town with a population of less than 20,000 as opposed to Bristol’s 500,000 or so. They soon gained the lead for the first time in the game, 14-13, before Newquay stepped up their performane once more to retake the advantage.

With the game entering the final minutes Newquay’s frustrations with the referee – Bristols own coach – were growing. Throughout the game the home team were allowed to get away with dirty foul play.

With the score at 20-20 and 30 seconds remaining, Newquay had one last attack and a chance to take a deserved victory. Bristol’s players had other plans as every player grabbed a Newquay body on and off the ball. All going unpunished, Bristol were able to turn over the ball, and in the dying seconds break toward the Newquay goal. A desperate defensive effort from Newquay saw an infringement from Koenen milliseconds before the final buzzer. Bristol had one shot to steal victory. Newquay’s tallest players formed a wall as Bristol lined up their top man for the shot. He fired in from above the jumping wall, only to see the ball saved by Muskett.

Even with the dissatisfaction with the referee, and the feeling that they didn’t get everything the performance deserved, Newquay can take heart from the proven progression they are showing. This result is another chapter in the incredible story of a small town team taking on the established giants of the sport. The future is bright.

Victory!

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Saturday 18th January 2014. A landmark in the development of Handball in Cornwall, as Newquay record their first victory in the South & West Development league.

Newquay Handball Club 24 – 13 Cardiff Handball Club

NHC have progressed a long way in a short space of time. In little over a year they have gone from zero to competing with, and now beating, experienced teams. To win by more than ten goals is a significant margin, something that NHC and their supporters could not have anticipated going into their first season.

Newquay have leapt a giant hurdle. Now, they can believe. Now, they can challenge any team. NHC are no longer in the business of making up the numbers. 

From throw-off Newquay came out of the blocks fast, bringing the game to Cardiff and immediately taking charge. Training ground practise was clearly paying off, with space created for Circle Player Kevin Welsh, Centre Jürgen Koenen, and Right Back Adolf Botar. Newquay’s Portuguese star David Santos fired in goal after goal from 9 metres plus, and with Lee Springett benefitting from Eddie Percy-Hughes’ fast breaks, Newquay went into half time 15-8 up.

The second half was a low scoring affair, with Newquay seemingly tightening up infront of goal. Injury to Botar, and Koenen jaded with illness, didn’t help matters. NHC managed just one goal in the first 13 minutes of the second half. These are times when defence is crucial, and Newquay’s was first class. Committed, aggressive and organised, keeping their lead in tact.

In the latter stages of the second period Cardiff had to chase the game, taking risks and leaving gaps for Newquay to exploit. And exploit the did, debutant Jon Hyatt checked in with a brace, Santos continued his assault on the Cardiff goal, and Botar came back on dually adding to Newquay’s lead.

Newquay were also able to blood another promising young player, Ben Haddrell, who excelled defensively and threatened the Cardiff back line. With Newquay’s new players performing so well, and the influential Tristan Mullar-Forster to come back in, the squad is looking very strong indeed.

The next challenge for NHC comes from Bath, the return fixture of the spectacular season opener. Newquay are a much improved team since the first encounter, which couldn’t have been closer, ending 19-18 in favour of the Somersetians. Saturday 1st February, 2pm. Save the date, it’s going to be explosive.

Newquay vs Cardiff, Jan 18th 3pm Bodmin Dragon Centre

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Newquay’s pursuit of their first victory continues in 2014 with the visit of Cardiff on January 18th. A must win game for both teams as they languish at the foot of the table, which is a deceiving summary of the season so for Newquay.

The luck (or lack-of) the draw meant that this new team has played last seasons league champions, the runners up, and this years favourites, in the opening three games. This baptism of fire for Newquay has only served to make the team stronger, and increase the appetite for positive results.

Having shown strength, togetherness and skill against strong opponents, NHC are encouraged by the progress made in a short period of time. Taking the league champions to within seconds of victory, and gaining great comments from opposing coaches, add up to a team on the rise. There is great positivity in the camp leading into the upcoming Cardiff showdown.

Training sessions over the Christmas period have been committed, and progressively high in quality – showing that Newquay are an ever improving side and ready for the challenges of 2014.

As always spectators are very welcome to The Dragon Centre in Bodmin for the Cardiff game, so come and support Cornwall’s no.1 Handball team. End to end action is guaranteed! Throw off at 3.30pm January 18th, please arrive from 3pm.

NEW satellite club to start January 9th in Bodmin

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We’re pleased to announce a big step in the evolution of Newquay Handball Club in this new year; the launch of our Bodmin satellite club. Sessions begin on Thursday the 9th January from 5pm until 6.30 at Bodmin College sports hall. Just £3 per session, open to anyone over the age of 14 – and ideally, but not exclusively – under 25.

This club will act as a feeder for the first team, somewhere to introduce and develop new and young Handball players. With our experienced coach, and a first team in competitive leagues, there’s a real opportunity for Handball to thrive in Cornwall.

Satellite club sessions are aimed at beginners, no knowledge of the sport is necessary, just enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Basic technical and tactical aspects of the game will be introduced together with a whole lot of fun!

The satellite club is a fusion of efforts from Newquay Handball Club, Cornwall Sports Partnership, Sport England and Bodmin College.

So come along, try a new sport and be on the forefront of a new Cornish sporting frontier! Boooom!

 

Xmas training dates

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Christmas is no reason to stop training! Here’s our confirmed schedule…

22 December 3-5pm (1 court)

29th December 3-5pm (1 court)

Then every thursday is booked from 2nd January – 10th April inclusive. 8pm-9.30pm.

Home game schedule:

18 January 3-5pm (2 courts)

1 February 3-5pm (2 courts)

22 March 3-5pm (2 courts)

23 March 2-4pm (2 courts)

For a full schedule, check this out.

Training Thursday 5th Bodmin Dragon Centre 8pm – 9.30pm

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Yet another new venue for training on a thursday night…

With an eye on the Cardiff game early next year, we need to keep our foot on the gas and make the most of every session.

Onwards and upwards.