After losing five players out of a squad of nine at the end of last season it was always going to be a tough season for Canterbury Hellfire. Looking back to November when they could only muster four low pointer players it was a reflection on the hard work of Chairman Brian Pitchford and Coach Omar Foster that Canterbury were even at the event at The Morningside Arena Leicester.
Meeting for the first time on the Friday night the squad was to suffer a further blow when talent loan signing George Rodgers failed to join up with his fellow squad members after going down with an illness .
The team was made up of Captain Steve Brown (2.0), David Stokes (1.5), Ben Richardson (1.5) playing his first season in league 1, Ian Farrant (0.5), Omar Foster (0.5), Byron White (2.0) on loan from the GB Talent, Resul Karabulut (3.0) a Dutch International player and Ed Croucher who joined up with the first team squad for the first time but would have to undergo the classification process before he was able to play.
First up for the Saturday game was to be London Storm and it was not long before they exploited the weakness in the city side: final score 63-30. Things got even harder for Hellfire when next up came London Crusaders, arguably the better of the two London sides, and with Coach Foster still hunting for his most effective line up the result again went to the boys from London – 73-36.
The final game of the day was against newly promoted RGC and looking for their first win at this level which was gifted to them by a Canterbury side still playing as individuals and not as a team. Although a much closer game a third defeat of the day came as RG won 56-43.
Sunday saw Ed Coucher join the bench and, with the classifiers watching, Foster was put under even more pressure to get him some game time in the two cross over games. Coach Foster held high hopes that a result would come Hellfire’s way but The West County Hawks had other ideas. Their better understanding was the deciding factor with Hawks winning 56-43. On the plus side Croucher, in the 4th quarter, made his debut for Hellfire and in so doing became one of the youngest players to play in GBWR league 1.
At the end of the game Chairman Pitchford, Ed and Anita( Ed’s mum who was also acting as the clubs medic for the weekend) were called to a meeting with the classifying team where Ed received the good news that after being impressed by his enthusiasm and knowledge on and off court he was to receive a classification of 0.5. More good news was to follow as Ben Richardson who was also being watched had his classification lowered from 1.5 to 1.0 .
The final action of the weekend saw Canterbury, playing fr 7th or 8th place, dominate a Yorkshire Lions side but never managing to make a telling break that would bring home the points. This was to cost dearly as after winning every quarter and still holding a 3-point lead with 2 minutes to go Canterbury imploded giving away turnover after turnover handing the Lions a victory 52-49.
Hellfire do not have much time to lick their wounds as the team travel to Stoke Mandeville ready for SS2 on the 1st and 2nd of February, where the squad will be looking for improvements in all areas and more points on the board.