Training & Tournaments
London Storm runs weekly sessions on Thursdays at Ark All Saints Academy, not far from Oval tube (SE5 0UB). These are from 7-9pm.
We operate a first session FREE policy all year round, and often have other promotions for students or members. Sessions are £5 and are composed of several fun games and often end with games like Last Player Standing or Daisy Chain.
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Men’s DPL report: Storm has arrived.
After months of whisperings and murmurs about dark clouds on the horizon, a sense of palpable tension in the air, and a smattering of raindrops, the full force of London Storm roared into life in 2016 as the first team began their debut DPL battle.
Flashing up the leagues in lighting quick time, and somehow hopping a few leagues on the way, the promised land awaited. How would they fare? Join me on a journey of discovery.
The new boys had a daunting set of fixtures to welcome them to the league. Last year’s champs, Minotaurs, last year’s runners up, Meteors, and a strong Manchester Bees team. A baptism of fire on paper and sure enough, it turned out to be so.
The crucial game against Bees was first up. Storm, a little taken aback by a well drilled Bees attack, took a few games to warm up. Time is not something easily afforded in DPL, and the boys quickly found themselves 4-0 down. A middle game rally, with several of the Storm players remembering how to play dodgeball, saw the score edge towards evens. Bees always had a little too much for Storm however and, as will become all too familiar, Storm went down 8-6.
The next two games were even tougher. Minotaurs and Meteors both stamped their authority early on in matches and despite spirited Storm resistance, both games remained tantalisingly out of reach. The chaps went down 10-4 and 9-5 respectively.
Round 1 ended with 3 defeats from 3 games. Welcome to DPL.
With the toughest round of fixtures in the past, round 2 loomed on the horizon and on paper looked like a more fruitful weekend.
In game one, Storm started their love affair with Jammy Dodgers – a love affair in the sense that they loved beating them. The games are always spicy and entertaining, and thankfully for Storm, they usually end up with one winner. This time Storm ran out 9-5 victors and in doing so gained their first win as a DPL team. This was gobbled up with glee.
Second up was Bedford Eagles. For the Dodgeball purists, ‘Beagles’ are the team to follow. Playing the game in the “proper” way, and with a team littered with internationals, their games are always entertaining. That trend did not buck here.
Storm really stepped up this game, Adam Cutmore in particular catching everything thrown at him. Everytime.
Thanks to some Cutmore heroics, Storm raced into a 6-2 lead and were on the precipice of an unheralded win. A minor blip after a time out saw Beagles drag one back, making the score 6-4. But no biggie, right? All Storm needed was one more game…
But Bedford sensed blood, and capitalised of some nervousness in the Storm ranks to level the game at 6-6.
A collective quiet fell over the court. Iain gathered his men around him and insisted that ‘this was the game!’… He was right – this was the game that Storm lost their second match 8-6. Insightful analysis as ever from the President.
The last meet pitted Storm against fellow relegation candidates, Wessex. Now is a suitable time to trot out the old cliches. This was a real “six-pointer” and to survive in this league you need to “beat the teams around you.” There is truth to the maddening cliches.
In a sea-sawing game, Storm had opportunities to clinch victory, but they simply couldn’t capitalise on the numerous opportunities that presented themselves. A 7-7 draw represented points dropped rather than points earned.
Ah, the infamous round 3. A weekend that will forever be etched into the collective dodgeball conscious. It was, of course, the birth of kit gate.
There are rules in any sport which are imperative; rules which fundamentally need to be followed in order for the sport to function. Handball in football, forward passes in rugby, hitting the ball out in tennis. Add the requirement in dodgeball for players to be wearing identical playing tops to that fundamental list. After all, we can’t play dodgeball if someone is wearing a slightly different shade of black, can we? How would the opposition know which side that player was on?! How would the referees be able to control the potential fallout of not being able to book someone without a shirt number?
Alas, such questions did not float through the mind of Mr. Oliver Hopkins, who unbeknown to him, had accidentally packed two black shorts rather than his playing top. When informed he would not be able to play for said reason, what went through his mind cannot be re-written here.
The solution to Storm’s problem? Borrow another team’s playing shirts to ensure everyone looked the same. Of course! It was such an obvious and practical solution to a really important problem.
The ever lovable Bees team kindly volunteered their (YELLOW) playing shirts and finally Storm were underway, playing in unfamiliar colours. First up were Nottingham Sherrifs, and the two teams traded the first couple of games, with no mentionable event occurring (Apart from Ollie continuing his excellent start to the day by tripping over the court-side next and flailing about to the delight of the three spectators.)
With Storm distracted by kit gate, Sherrifs took the ascendency, breaking away to a 7-5 lead. It took a last second Iain Barrett catch to snatch a draw for Storm who had not been at their best.
The second match saw Storm face DPL veterans, the Dirty Ducks. With rumours circulating about some of the Ducks’ impending retirement from the sport, Storm felt there was no better time to play them. This rang true, and Storm raced into a 4-0 lead, the glistening yellow tops of the Bees adding spark and zest to their play. The battle continued, with the Ducks showing their experience to wrestle the game back. Nevertheless, Storm led the match 6-4 when disaster struck. Just as the two teams lined up to begin what could have been the deciding game, Manchester Bees yelled over to Storm: “Lads! We’re playing now – we need our shirts back!”
In what must have been a dodgeball first, Adam took an emergency timeout and the Storm boys got naked on court, handing back the Bees playing shirts in exactly the same condition in which they’d been bestowed them …
The ridiculous questions began. ‘Can we play topless?’ ‘What if I drew numbers on our backs?’ The fact that these questions were even uttered when Storm had 6 black tops sitting in a pile on the side of the court beggars belief.
Must to the disappointment of the crowd, Storm didn’t need to play topless. Winchester, the heroes of this tale, popped out of nowhere, tearing off their tops and hurling them in the direction of each Storm player. Each player hungrily pulled them on and it was game time once more. Boys, we salute you.
Storm lost the next 2 games, resulting in another 8-6 loss. It had nothing to do with kit gate, honestly.
Last up were the Leeds Snipers, a must win game for Storm. Cohesive play and a sense of ruthlessness enabled Storm to rack up a 12-2 win. A much needed end to an interesting day of dodgeball.
Round 4 saw a return of the foes from the first round, but this time in a new venue: Birmingham’s Pro Direct Arena. While a great venue, it wasn’t necessarily the most friendly for a dodgeball game, with one side playing against a back wall, and one playing against a back net. Needless to say, there’s a considerable advantage throwing into a back wall…
First up were Manchester Bees. Frankly put, Storm were pretty woeful and were caught decidedly cold as Bees overwhelmed them with powerful throws. It wasn’t long before the game had slipped out of reach and Storm went down 10-4, suffering their biggest loss of the season. Ouch.
Next on the menu were Meteors. Storm found an extra gear in this one and the teams were very evenly matched throughout the duration of the game, trading frames in favour of whichever team threw against the back wall. Adam Cutmore lead the way with some frightfully good catching, and the Storm raged and harried Meteors into several mistakes. With the game tied at 6-6, Storm’s nemesis again was their inability to close out tight matches. Cheap hits and a few dropped catches led Storm to another 8-6 loss.
They then lost their final game against the reigning champs Minotaurs. The score line? Yep, 8-6.
The penultimate meet was a crucial one for Storm. Playing against JD and Wessex, two teams in the bottom half of the table, they knew that wins over those two teams would propel them up the league. It’s all about beating the teams around you in this business.
And did that, they did. In a series of accomplished performances, Storm had their best league meeting to date, beating JD (told you they liked playing them) and Wessex 10-4 a piece with consummate ease.
They even went 6-4 up against Beagles.. They eventually lost – I wonder what the score was.
Round 5 crystallised what had been threatening to come for a few weeks now – a team full of individually capable players, had now become a capable team, seemlessly swapping positions mid game, instantly following calls and fluidly adopting new tactics during the matches. The real Storm were here.
Storm entered round 6 with a simple equation: score 3 points across 3 games and they were safe in DPL for another year. They had previous weeks’ solid performances to thank for the strong platform they sat on…
Or that would have been the story, if not for the mythical “round 7” the loomed ominously on the horizon, ready to ruin the league order that had fairly been earned on merit throughout the season.
Say what you will about round 7 though, it certainly made round 6 matter.
Storm started poorly, going down quickly to a pumped up Ducks team. The score was 11-3 – Storm’s heaviest defeat of the season correlated with their worst performance of it.
There was work to do. Sherrifs and Leeds were next up and were two huge games in the fight for survival.
Storm’s game vs. Sherrifs was one of the closest games of the season yet. The teams traded game after game, with each one going right down to the wire. With the match delicately poised on 6-6, Storm knew that this was a match they could ill afford to lose. The final frame was cagey for the first 2 and 30 minutes, the teams trading warning shots. Then, the last 30 seconds turned to anarchy – both teams eager to seek the victory they both craved so much. A series of rapid exchanges followed, counter followed by counter, before the dust settled and the whistle blew. Full time. But who’d won? … The score was 8-6, and this time in Storm’s favour. The crucial game was won.
Last up were Leeds, Storm knew that a convincing win here would all but guarantee them DPL dodgeball next season. Everything started to plan, Storm eased to a 4-0 lead.
They started to relax – a big mistake. Poor throwing and some great catching by Leeds saw them claw back the deficit to 6-4. Storm rallied, shook themselves out of their slumber and took another 8-6 victory.
Thus ended Storm’s debut season. It was a coming of age period for the squad, several of who had not played DPL dodgeball before. Those in question acquitted themselves exceptionally well, and grew in stature as the season rolled on.
Special mention must go to skipper, Adam Cutmore. Without this man, Storm’s ride would’ve been far more turbulent. The team’s backbone, he made most of the tactical calling and led by example in every game with some quite truly ridiculous catching and throwing. A place in the DPL team of the season was richly deserved. I tried to reach out for Adam to comment, but he was unavailable. Something about ankle surgery…
Fancy joining the team? The criteria is simple: one must be over 6 ft tall, awfully polite and moderately attractive.
Written by Olly Hopkins