A bit of a departure today … I could compile a match report in a similar style to those I’ve written for Grangetown’s Prem squad over the past few years; but I honestly don’t think a report would do justice to the performance I saw today from Prem 1 side New Cambell.
The bare facts are that New Cambell travelled up from Essex lying second in the division; their solitary defeat coming at the hands of league leaders and reigning champions Oldham. Grangetown were in fifth position with six wins from ten fixtures in their first season at this level.
The final score was Grangetown 30, New Cambell 77.
Although it clearly had some bearing on the score, but almost certainly not the result, Grangetown were without their three Super League players, whilst New Cambell fielded five of the current Saracens Mavericks squad: Steph Collard, Michelle Drayne, Lindsay Keable, Georgia Lees and Paige McCalla.
Maybe there were other current Super League players within the 11-strong squad that travelled north … to be honest after vising the Mavericks website, I felt I’d searched enough!
Before I return to New Cambell, I have to say that Grangetown battled so hard for the entire match. Yes, they were outclassed on the day, but results like this were always possible during the club’s first ever year in Prem 1. The two things to bear in mind are firstly, the Grangetown heads never dropped, even though the outcome was decided very early on in proceedings; and secondly, this performance and result shouldn’t be taken in isolation.
After 11 games, Grangetown have six victories – including memorable away wins at Tameside and Academy. What this squad has achieved is already well beyond all realistic expectations; they have all but secured their Prem 1 status for next year, and with most squads certain to be affected by Super League commitments, more positive results are likely over the remaining seven fixtures.
Grangetown are in Prem 1 on merit. They have grown to be one of the top ten netball clubs in the country, and have already proved that they can compete with the very best – and nothing that happened today changes that…
It is to my eternal shame that I didn’t know the higher-profile New Cambell players by sight. I really should have learned my lesson right at the start of the season when Academy and Loughborough Lightning defender Vicki Oyesola had to introduce herself when we spoke after the match….
New Cambell were simply superb throughout the court, some of their individual play was breath-taking at times, and their collective performance was the best I’ve ever seen against Grangetown, but for me two players stood out.
During the first half, the New Cambell wing attack was at the heart of much of the visitors best attacking moves. At the end of the match, I took a look at the line-ups … wing attack … first half … Georgia Lees.
Not the Georgia Lees who won two Grand Finals with Surrey Storm..?
Yes, that Georgia Lees.
But with nothing less than total respect to Georgia and her team mates, the Grangetown players, coaching staff and spectators were treated to something very special in the second half.
Playing at goal defence, then goal keeper was a young lady (I believe she is 16-years old) called Funmi Fadoju. Again, I can only apologise for not being aware of her before the game … but it transpires that Funmi is an England under-17 international and one of the most outstanding athletes of her age that I have seen in any sport.
Until today, the best defender I had seen at Grangetown was Sam Cook of Hucclecote (and Severn Stars); but even to my untrained eye, Funmi is destined for great things in the sport. She was lightning quick, with great spring to go with her speed; but it was her ability to read the game that really stood out.
I lost count of the number of interceptions she made – it was a pleasure to see her on court and if (and when) she becomes a household name, I will be able to say “I was there” when Funmi Fadoju played at Grangetown.
My Grangetown Player of the Match: Claudia Heath