History was made in October as the Scotland National Korfball team competed in the European Championships for the first time.
The European Championships were held in the Netherlands with the first rounds being held across the country then the finals took place in Rotterdam.
Scotland were placed in a pool alongside Poland, Catalonia & the second best side in the world, Belgium and the games took place in Tilburg.
Game 1, Catalonia
First match, Catalonia. The Catalan side were an unknown quantity to the Scots, and appeared to be ready to lay out their intent for the tournament. Despite a hard fight from the Scots, Catalonia ran out as easy winners in this match and went on to claim 5th place overall.
Game 2, Poland
This was the pool game that Scotland were aiming to win. The game started well with a goal by previous Great Britain squad member Samantha Whittaker but Poland struck back immediately, taking advantage of mistakes in defence by the Scottish side to take the score to 1-4. A penalty taken by Sam Whittaker, followed by a goal from Captain Gavin Legg brought Scotland back into the game at 3-4, only for Poland to score another 2. A missed penalty from the Scotland team would prove costly later on, and although Gavin Legg snatched another goal, the half time score was 5-8 to Poland.
The second half started with Poland racing out of the blocks, taking the score to 5-11. Mike Brayne and Dan Pratt both found the basket for Scotland, but another missed penalty again left us trailing. Angus Davison was substituted on and found the basket, but it was not enough. Final score was 10-13 to Poland and a very disappointed Scotland side was rueing the missed opportunities that could have seen them take the game.
Team: Gavin Legg (c), Mike Brayne, Dan Pratt, Matt Warren, Angus Davison, Tamara Burnell, Samantha Whittaker, Karen McClymont, Morven van Sleidregt
Game 3, Belgium
Scotland went into this game knowing they were going to be beaten but determined to try to limit the Belgium sides scoring opportunities. Belgium stormed to an 8-0 lead and were looking on good form until a drop shot from Andrea Kinver finally put Scotland on the score sheet. Not to be outdone, Tamara Burnell added a drop shot of her own. Kyle Crombie was putting in some excellent work in attack, getting past his player and creating the space for Gavin Legg to convert some excellent opportunities. Half time score 4-17.
Down the other end, Donald Morrison was making his debut for Scotland, winning many rebounds and intercepts for his division and Mike Brayne and Matt Warren added to the score sheet for Scotland. Eleanor Gaunt also made her international debut for the team and added a strong support role to her division. Final score 9-35.
Team: Gavin Legg (c), Mike Brayne, Donald Morrison, Kyle Crombie, Matt Warren, Tamara Burnell, Samantha Whittaker, Karen McClymont, Andrea Kinver, Eleanor Gaunt
Game 4, Wales
The pools saw Scotland finish in 4th place and so would now face Wales and Turkey in the next round. In order to beat Wales, the Scots knew they would have to create more chances and play to their strengths, as well as cutting out goals from Wales’ key players, Nick Wilkins and Dave Buckland.
A change to the Scotland side saw Angus Davison replacing Gavin Legg in the team, in the hope that his accurate shooting would bring some much needed attacking power to the Scotland team and so the sides lined up with Dan Pratt, Mike Brayne, Sam Whittaker and Tamara Burnell in attack and Matt Warren, Angus Davison, Karen McClymount & Morven van Sleidgret in defence.
The match started with both sides aggressively trying to exert control over the game. Wales were first to find the basket with a penalty conceded by Warren but Sam Whittaker soon brought the score level with a well taken penalty of her own. Angus Davison scored another penalty but Dan Pratt conceded again in defence, bring the score to 2-2. Wales then scored twice in succession to open up a lead, Angus Davison scored a drop shot to bring the score to 3-4 but another conceded penalty meant Wales regained their 2 goal lead. However, Scotland were still fighting and a well timed spin from Sam Whittaker and a drop shot from Dan Pratt levelled the score at 5-5. Scotland were getting into their stride and added 2 more goals from Davison & 2 more from Pratt to take a 4 goal lead over the Welsh. Wales dragged themselves 2 goals closer but a beautiful long shot from Morven van Sleidregt & a mid distance shot from Mike Brayne meant Scotland went into half time leading 11-7.
Scotland were first to score after half time with a free pass taken by Matt Warren. However Wales then found their shooting boots and scored 8 goals without reply from the Scotland team, taking them into the lead 12-15. Substitute Eleanor Legg found the basket for Scotland, as did captain Mike Brayne, bring the game back to 14-15 and despite another goal from Samantha Whittaker, Wales ran out the winners 15-18. This was a good match by Scotland, who pushed Wales much closer than they had previously and showed how far the team has come on since qualification.
Team: Mike Brayne (c), Dan Pratt, Angus Davison, Matt Warren, Tamara Burnell, Samantha Whittaker, Karen McClymont, Morven van Sleidregt, Eleanor Legg
Game 5, Turkey
The game started well, with goals from Mike Brayne & Sam Whittaker but then Turkey fought back, bringing the scores level and then taking the lead, goals from Sam Whittaker and Angus Davison, Mike Brayne and Gavin Legg meant Scotland went into half time leading 7-5. Despite the lead, Scotland were struggling to cope with Turkey’s physical style of play and the frequent fouls blown by the referee.
In the second half, Turkey scored a long goal but Scotland’s Sam Whittaker replied almost immediately from the penalty spot. However, Scotland’s defence then weakened allowing Turkey to score 5 goals without reply, 2 penalties taken by Angus Davison and an excellent running move by Mike Brayne followed by another penalty taken by Sam Whittaker was not enough to hold the game and Turkey ran out the winners 15-12. Scotland were left once again knowing they had the game in their grasp and let it slip through a combination of defensive fouls and poor shooting.
Game 6, Slovakia
Winning this match would mean Scotland would be in the 13/14 place play off, a loss would mean the 15/16 place play off.
Scotland scored first with an under the post shot from Gavin Legg, Slovakia equalled the score with a penalty. The teams swapped ends and Kyle Crombie drew a foul from his player, leading to a penalty coolly converted by Angus Davison. Eleanor Legg then scored from distance and Mike Brayne added to the score from a drop shot. Slovakia then replied with a running in shot but another goal from Angus Davison kept Scotland ahead. Slovakia then scored 4 goals before Scotland found the basket through Sam Whittaker, substitute Matt Warren and Angus Davison to go into half time 8-7.
With both sides keen to win, the second half was also a well fought affair. Slovakia found the basket immediately after half time to level the score. Sam Whittaker scored a drop off to take the lead again but Slovakia levelled the score. Angus Davison converted another penalty, this time drawn by Eleanor Legg but the Scottish defence gave away 2 penalties in succession allowing Slovakia to claw a 1 goal lead. Mike Brayne closed the gap and a running in shot from Morven van Sleidregt allowed Scotland to scrape back in front. A penalty to each side meant Scotland stayed in front and both teams were desparately fighting to gain ascendancy. Slovakia found the basket 4 times in succession, taking them to a 4 goal lead. A drop shot from Angus Davison broke up the Slovakian attack but Scotland again found themselves on the wrong side of a 15-20 score line, meaning they would again face Turkey in the battle to avoid the bottom spot.
15/16 Play off
Scotland went into the match, knowing they had something to prove. They could have finished higher in the tournament and did not want to leave in the bottom spot. They went into the game with Sam Whittaker given the task of marking out the Turkish top scorer and Mike Brayne given the highest scoring boy to block out of the game. The squad were also told to drive at the basket in attack to draw penalties and free passes from the physical Turkish team.
The match started with a long shot from Samantha Whittaker, although Matt Warren then conceded a free pass, allowing the Turks to draw level. Matt Warren made amends for his mistake by drawing a penalty which Angus Davison converted then Morven van Sleidregt drew another penalty, again converted by Davison.
The Turkish girls then scored twice to level the scores but van Sleidregt then drew another penalty from her defender which was again converted. Morven then scored a runner to take the score to 5-3. Again, the Turkish girls brought their team back into the game with a running in shot and a well taken free pass. The pressure of the game was showing and Turkey missed a penalty before scoring a long shot to take the lead. Matt Warren then spun his defender to draw the game 6-6 at half time.
Scotland went into the second half determined not to let another match slip away. A foul on Samantha Whittaker led to a free pass converted by Mike Brayne, Scotland then followed this up with a drop shot from substitute Gavin Legg. Matt Warren then scored again following another foul on Morven van Sleidregt who was causing her opponent no end of trouble. Turkey then found the basket through a drop shot but yet another foul meant Scotland were again given the chance to score through a free pass by Mike Brayne, giving Scotland a 3 goal cushion. Scoltand then conceded a goal to a Turkish drop shot but Angus Davison converted another penalty, once again drawn by van Sleidregt who was having an excellent match. A concentration lapse from Gavin Legg allowed Turkey to score once more but goals from Mike Brayne and substitute Andrea Kinver, took the score to 13-9. The Turkish boys did not want to be outdone by the girls and added to the score sheet, 13-10. However running shots from Angus Davison & Mike Brayne took the score to 15-10 and the game out of reach, a penalty & free pass from Turkey were followed by a short shot from Matt Warren and a final score of 16-12.
Scotland finished the tournament on a high with a well – deserved victory but will have been left feeling they could have finished much higher in the rankings if only a few other matches had gone their way. A good start for the team, with much to improve on over the next 4 years.