March the Fifth, 2016. Put it in the record books, Dragons. For the first time in our eight-years of existence, the women of the club played an eleven-a-side game.
The match—a friendly against the Easton Cowgirls in Bristol—was hastily scheduled after Casual League opponents Inter M’ladies pulled out of the season’s final fixture, but it was no less lively and competitive for that, with many of the squad who had performed so well throughout the previous 7-a-side games turning out to contest a closely-fought 2-1 defeat.
The Drocks conceded the first goal, but—undaunted by the bigger pitch and more experienced rivals, and cheered on by the usual host of devotees—responded almost immediately. Perhaps fittingly, it was the longest-serving member of the club in the line-up, a certain Mrs Ruth, who popped up to provide the historic equaliser. Though the talented Cowgirls—including many players from League champions Shorthorns—went on to claim the victory, there were many moments to treasure; KP—twice thwarted by the keeper—relished the bigger stage for her talents, Charlotte and Ewa made impressive debuts, while the skills of Meg H and Harriet, pace of Bethan, work-rate of Meg R, defensive strength and composure of Hennie and Shona and all-round selfless teamwork of Amy S reminded the proud supporters just why Dragons Rock have exceeded all expectations to finish the season in an incredible third position, just a victory away from claiming the ultimate prize! Claire is worthy of a special mention for filling the goalkeeping gloves worn with distinction by Alex and Eliza in earlier games with equal accomplishment (and getting a boot in the shoulder for her troubles!).
Members of all Casual League teams later assembled in The Plough at Easton for an end-of-season party and awards ceremony, involving food, games, music, mid-afternoon shots, impressive dance-floor moves from the likes of Ewa, Hennie and Mr Amos, and some hideous abuse of marshmallows. Some Dragons present were inspired by this hugely enjoyable gathering with a view to our own annual get-together, though the chairman seemed unconvinced…
Reflecting on the Casual League adventure, who would have envisaged such a triumphant final placing after the opening 7-1 defeat back in the autumn? That the team picked themselves up, dusted themselves down and won the next fixture speaks volumes for their attitude and commitment. The rapid improvement in technique, tactical nous and positional discipline has been staggering, reflecting great credit not only on the players but on manager Ryan and others including Darrin, Ali and KP who have assisted with the coaching too. The more experienced team members, such as Harriet, Ruth and KP herself (whose haul of goals—among the League’s highest tallies—contributed hugely to results) have led by example, while the enthusiasm and growing self-belief of the rest of the squad has made Brunel Academy on the first Saturday of the month an unmissable appointment for the regular supporters with their repertoire of personalised songs and supply of treats (thankyou Ryan and Sue!).
Dragons Rock have earned the respect of all their opponents (and Bob the ref!), more than justified their entry into the League, and set an example to the whole club. Such is the confidence within the women’s squad they will travel to Paris in May to compete in the annual LGBT international tournament there. I’m sure all members of Cardiff Dragons wish them every success in that competition, and many happy returns to Bristol next year.
For full Bristol Women’s Casual League results, tables and statistics visit:
For match reports on every game visit:
Dragons Rock XI: Claire, Megan R, Bethan, Shona, Hennie (C), Harriet, Charlotte, Ewa, Amy S, Megan H, Ruth, KP.
Other Dragons Rock players with League appearances this season: Alex, Laia, Eliza, Zoe.