UBJC left the union ready to go and looking forward to a great weekend of judo. Little did we know that the journey to Sheffield would test this resolve. With El Capitan and G&T at the wheels we crept out of Bristol and headed for the motorways. All was well until John said he needed a bathroom stop. We told him to hold it and pushed on. When on the M6 toll we decided to put him out of his misery and stop. This is where it all started to go wrong. Rob tried to wrestle the tank of a Vauxhall into a parking space, being a gentleman he helped a fellow motorist adjust their wing mirror with our car. He then tried to help Murat make weight by gently squeezing him between the two cars as he tried to correct his monstrosity of a parking attempt.
When leaving the services, G&T piped up that he wasn’t trusting the sat nav in his Citroën as it was telling him to turn around and go the other way. So we soldiered on, paid the £5.50 toll to then decide that the GPS was right and turn around. We then paid a further £4 to leave the toll road to head in the right direction. With another slight detour to derby for Rob’s car due to poor back seat driving by John Gilbert. Whilst this was all going on I was frantically trying to coordinate UBJCs private weigh in, as we had no hope of making the cut off. With good diplomatic skills we managed to secure a 2130-2200 weigh in at the BUCS hotel in Sheffield. We all weighed in and racked up a hefty custard cream and jammy dodger debt to Trevor who was kind enough to stay up late for us. Now we thought it was plain sailing to the hotel, how wrong we were, Murat decided to leave his bag in Trevor’s room. We then spent the next 30 minutes or so trying to locate Trevor who was AWOL. No luck, we decided to head off to the hotel. All checked in it was time for a quick check of the timetable for the weekend then a quick pint at the bar (being students obviously) then bed.
Day 2 started with a lovely complimentary breakfast of sausage, eggs and bean….. Perfect fuel for a tough day of fighting. The 1st kyu and Dan grades headed off first with the other kyu grades steadily slaying the buffet behind us. We arrived, set up camp and started to warm up. Rob Miguel and I were up first. I found myself in a pool with the Croatian no. 3 apparently and managed to hold off for around a min or so before being thrown for wazari and held down for the remainder. Second fight I was doing well, managed to hold off for a while and tactically making my opponent score shido’s however the drop seio was too much, I was lucky for a while but eventually got thrown for a wazari (admittedly should have been ippon) I eventually lost the fight…. not a happy teddy. Miguel had a tough pool in the -73, it was a big group which meant he had to wait a while to start fighting. He had 2 fights but was unfortunate to not pick up a win. Rob found himself in the other room on mat 5 with G&T taking on the role of D as coach. Rob found himself in a very tough pool with the guy from bath who would eventually go on to win silver. Again, unlucky to pick up a win.
Next up was Allyx. She had a huge task ahead fighting in a higher weight category but none the less went in with aggression and determination. She lost her first fight to a jujigi gatame but was very unlucky to not escape. Her next few fights were very tough against very strong opponents and again very unlucky to not pick up a win. Murat found himself in the -90 having narrowly missed the cut off for -81. He came out fighting and dominated from the start, his opponent got a bit lucky and eventually beat him. the second fight was very tough, fighting a guy who was on fire, and devastating on the ground (was also the guy who wet himself at USIST last year but that’s neither here nor there) with the rest of the team cheering Murat on it looked like he was going to pull the guy’s arm off but ran out of time on the ground, the pee pants guy eventually jumped on him and pulled a strangle out of nowhere, not a fitting end to the performance Murat put up. Spurred on by this Murat had one more fight. He managed to throw his opponent for wazari and then held him down for the win and 10 shiny new points to his black belt.
That concluded the fighting but the drama didn’t end there. As we waited to watch the finals Murat misplaced his brand new gi and then spent the next 3 hours running around trying to find it. El Capitan hatched a plan to locate the gi and eventually found it in the hands of a Scot. Rob recovered what was rightfully ours and put them back in their place, hatching a plan to punish Murat for what has seemed to be a common occurrence of leaving stuff everywhere and losing it. There was plenty of ‘smelly chat’ from George T and many more antics as per. With the day drawing to a close we headed back to our place, via the scenic route of course. When we arrived it was straight to the pub for a pint and a well-earned meal. One pint turned into a few and we then set off to find a way to settle the custard cream debt we had incurred. Murat was in charge of this and decided to buy a box of biscuits for Trevor, totaling around 20 packets…. No bribery intend for the next day of competition. We finished the night with a team get together and drinks, for those who weren’t competing the next day. It was a cracking day with lots learnt and experience gained.
Sunday arrived with another horrifically early wake up. The usual breakfast was consumed and the kyu grades prepared to set off for a 0900 start. Their progress was somewhat hindered by a few members of the team thinking they could check out of the room at some point later in the day, much to the irritation of Georgey G. The Dan grades followed closely behind relying on their knowledge of the roads of Rotherham and Sheffield to navigate themselves to the venue in time for the first fights. Saying we just made it was an understatement, G&T was called for his pool as we arrived with Greg about to step onto the mat. We all made a dash to get near the mats to help coach and cheer the guys on. Greg won his first fight and lost his second, meaning he had done better than any of the Dan grades and found himself in the knock out stages, despite a slight dislocation of his shoulder. We rallied around him, forced him to see the medics so he could come back for his next fight. G&T also found himself in the knockouts after winning his first fight and losing his second. I believe he could have one the second if he didn’t become the Chunder Dragon and empty his guts into every bin in the sports center after his first fight, obviously the second helping of fruit and yogurt at breakfast wasn’t a wise choice. Both G&T, Gregg and Georgie G lost their knockout matches and were sadly out of the competition. Josh ‘Wetslut’ Zwetsloot and Richard ‘Richie Rich’ Murray-Clark also fought valiantly in very tough pools but weren’t able to make it out of the pools, with Richie Rich giving a master class on how to fly through the air from an Uchimata.
Now I have saved the best till last, whilst everyone else was fighting on mats 1-4, John was quietly smashing through everyone in his pool. When news reached us that he was through to the knockouts the entire team flooded the area, shouting and cheering him on. 1st round saw his opponent flattened by his now trademark uchimata. The quarter finals came and went and it looked like he couldn’t be stopped. John found himself against a monster of an opponent in the semifinals, yet went in undeterred, if not concerned that he may not be able to have children after his last victim was intent on making him hurt. With tips and pointers from Murat, Rob and myself he stepped onto the mat. It wasn’t long before John landed an uchimata, what a surprise, and holding they guy down for the ippon. Silver medal secured. It looked like there would be no stopping this BUCS newbie but the final was a tough ordeal. John lead from the start and showed real dominance going a yuko up within 1 minute. He was caught by a touch of class though and thrown for an ippon. No matter, first BUCS and a silver medal for this fresher. With the team all congratulating him on his achievement we settled down to watch the team competition which saw team Bath destroy everyone in their path and demonstrate some world class Judo.
Day over we set off on the long drive back to Bristol with everyone shattered and trying not to think about Monday lectures. This was by far one of the best competitions I’ve been to and everyone did exceptionally well. I would encourage everyone to go to a BUCS competition at least once in their time at University, if not just for the laughs and good times we all had as a team. Big thanks to Rob and G&T for being the taxi drivers for the weekend and also Georgey G for booking all the hotel rooms for us. Wouldn’t have been a success without you guys. Everyone took something away from the weekend and we are all hoping that Murat didn’t leave anything there.