Old Rivalry Renewed for Golden Anniversary
19th April 2018
Fifty years may separate the first ever meeting between England and Scotland’s men’s volleyball teams from the upcoming anniversary match on Saturday 19th May 2018 but with bragging rights until the fixtures next major milestone in 25 to 50 years up for grabs, the rivalry burns just as strong as in 1968.
With the match being free to watch at Sport Central in Newcastle upon Tyne, Team Northumbria’s home venue, the atmosphere is set to be electric for the first serve at 19:00. In the build up to the men’s anniversary match, England and Scotland women will square up from 16:30 and spectators are welcome to observe the morning coaching sessions, which start at 11:30 for the women and 13:30 for the men. The match is being supported by a generous donation from the Ruth Nicholls Volleyball Foundation.
England will be hoping for a repeat of last year’s international series, which saw them triumph over Scotland with a 3 – 0 (25-20, 25-22, 25-17) win in the first match and a 3-1 (25-17, 21-25, 25-12, 25-21) win in the second to claim the series title. And with a second place finish at the 2017 Novotel Cup over the Christmas period behind them, which included a stellar display of twenty kill blocks against tournament hosts Luxembourg, the stage looks set for a strong showing from the national team.
“We are going to bring it home to win it. It’s straight forward,” is the strong message from England Men’s Head Coach Simon Loftus in the run up to the match. “It will depend largely on the make-up of the team but if everyone is available and fit, then we would expect to win. The coaches and players are keen to showcase what they can do on the court after having good feedback from the Novotel Cup in Luxembourg.”
Urging people to come and watch the match, Loftus continued: “the crucial thing for the guys is that they want to play with some sort of atmosphere. They train hard to play hard and it will be a great opportunity to see some international volleyball in this country.” Rumours of the Scottish rustling up supporters, with the intention of turning the crowd blue, are already flying, “The rivalry between England and Scotland can’t be overstated, there’s lots of passion and enthusiasm and sometimes a little bit more and because it’s a 50th anniversary it will be a memorable game.”
“From a personal point of view, it’s quite a tough game to coach, being Scottish, there’s an extra element for me. I am looking forward to seeing players I used to coach and the level they are now at.”
On England Men’s Head Coach Simon Loftus, England Men’s captain Adam Bradbury commented: “I’m glad we’ve got him on our side of the court.”
Bradbury, fresh from leading Team Northumbria to victory in the Men’s Cup Final last weekend and earning himself MVP along the way, is eagerly looking forward to the landmark international: “We played Scotland last summer in the series and it was a really enjoyable tournament to play in. We know that they have been playing and training hard so it will be a quality match but our aim, as going into any international, is to win.”
“We currently have seven players overseas who haven’t been available to make the training sessions but the coaches are aware of what they’ve been doing and where they fit in the team. At our next training camp, the guys overseas will be back so it will be a big weekend. The future of English volleyball is very exciting.”
After catching up with Bradbury earlier this year about the England Men’s team exploits at the Novotel Cup, we found out how the players are funding their ongoing training. You can now help support the latest fundraising effort from the England Men by taking part in the Volleyball England Golf Day – a team event for seasoned and not so seasoned golfers alike. The event will be taking place at Oulton Hall Golf Club in Leeds on 1st June 2018 and will hopefully prove an excellent opportunity to swap stories and relive the spectacle of the England v Scotland 50th anniversary event.
England v Scotland Women
Although one-year shy of the landmark fiftieth anniversary since their first meeting, England and Scotland’s women’s teams will also be battling it out for victory in the build-up, with the first serve of their match set for 16:30 on Saturday 19th May. It took a Golden Set to separate the women’s teams in last year’s international series between the two countries, with England’s women narrowly missing out on the series title.
Philosophical about the fixture, England Women’s Head Coach David Goodchild is looking ahead to May, “We’ve got to manage expectations with the time the girls have spent together as a team as it’s been a difficult time for the sport to get the girls all together in one place. We will look towards development for the future but we still want to go out and be competitive.” And the future does look promising for the England women, “we are looking forward to getting the girls together for the first of some big events comping up, including two American collegiate sides coming over to play against the England women and Team Northumbria in July and then the Novotel Cup in Christmas at the end of this year.”
Returning to the May match, Goodchild summarised: “There will be two great spectacles of volleyball and people will also have the opportunity to see some great coaching sessions before the two matches from coaches including Audrey Cooper, Maria Bertelli and Simon Loftus. It will be a showcase of the best England and Scotland players from the two countries.”
The training sessions will be open to spectators and are a great opportunity for club coaches to pick up new ideas from experienced national team staff to take back to their home environments. With the England and Scotland men’s and women’s team training sessions running consecutively from 11.30 until 15:30, the chance to watch four hours of national team training is a rare and valuable opportunity.
Tickets will be available for free on the door on Saturday 19th May at Sport Central, Northumbria University, Northumberland Road, Newcastle Upon Tyne, NE1 8QD.