our last Superleague match is likely to be remembered as one of the most exciting fixtures of the season.
It took place on Saturday at Manchester ‘Thunderdome’. And the reigning champions are so far undefeated this season. In fact, the score from our first-round match against Thunder, 54-51, was the closest anyone had come to them to date.
This only contributed to the high level of anticipation that always surrounds the battle of the roses. And we certainly gave every single fan on the sidelines a game they wouldn’t forget for a long time …
The game was fast paced from the first whistle despite the intense pressure from both sides’ tight ‘man-to-man’ defence. Thunder just managed to edge the lead by one goal at the end of the first quarter. Jets had to continue to be relentless and to the majority of the crowd’s dismay, we achieved this with a half-time score of 29-27 in our favour.
We were feeling positive and pleased with our first-half performance but in no doubt that the intensity on court would just continue to rise.
The aim was to start the last quarter ahead in order to give ourselves the best chance of becoming eventual winners. After 15 minutes of hard work we were on target but Thunder had reduced our lead to just a single point.
An early interception in the final quarter gave Jets the boost we needed and extended our lead to three goals. However, a misunderstanding in our attacking end gave Thunder the chance they needed as they brought the deficit down to one in the final five minutes.
At this point, either team could have won or there was the distinct possibility of the not-yet-seen extra time following a draw.
The next few minutes witnessed dramatic action as each team fought to take their centre passes to goal.
Unfortunately, Thunder’s keeper managed to intercept a slightly short feed into our shooting circle within the last 30 seconds. Thunder’s shooter was forced to take a risky, long shot and, much to the dismay all of the Jets’ squad, the ball went through the net as the final whistle blew and Thunder won the game 57-56.
Despite losing, I woke up on the Sunday a very proud captain. My team had shown that we are more than capable of beating the top team in the league! I’m sure my dad was particularly pleased that I wasn’t feeling too despondent as it was his birthday and – wonder of wonders – he wasn’t going to spend his day at work or at a netball match!
You may think that I’m joking, but dad honestly wouldn’t have thought twice about travelling around the country on his birthday to support me at an important match. In fact, dad’s support has been pivotal in my netball success for the last 10 years.
Twice a week, he would shuffle his working hours to pick me up from school in Sheffield and trawl through the peak traffic to Leeds.
He would then wait for three hours whilst I trained, before returning me home safely around 11pm.
Dad would then send me off to get ready for bed whilst he unloaded the car and put my dirty kit in the wash, often not getting to bed until the early hours of the morning. Weekends were certainly not spent recovering from the gruelling week, but instead there were dawn wake-ups in order to ferry my sister and me sometimes hundreds of miles around the country for some netball tournament.
In fact, dad’s support went much further then as my driver, PA or chief cheerleader.
He was incredibly understanding, emotionally supportive and his hugs eased any stresses that occurred on or off the netball court!