This is the story (The quick version) of how The Dorset Destroyers first year in Division 3 went.
(For those that don’t know, Div 3. Is the entry division in Wheelchair Rugby)
The Dorset Destroyers Wheelchair Rugby Club were looking at getting into the League, but did not have enough players, so our governing body, GBWR, suggested we merge with another team in the same boat.
So after much discussion we merged with Woodbridge Wheeled Warriors from Suffolk. Team training was going to be non-existent as the clubs were 5 hours away from each other, but we got 1 training session in, lasting 3 hours before we joined forces to play.
On paper it was quite doomed, as no-one knew who did what, what weaknesses and what strengths each team mate had, so it was a big shot in the dark.
BUT, it worked and we kept going at it, hammer and tong. We sent messages to each other saying, we’re working on this or that, what should we be working on, videos were looked at of each other and we kept things very simple.
But for a team that was brand new to the League (The Destroyers) and a team that hadn’t had the best of luck in Division 3 it was gonna be really tough!!!
2 of the teams in the League were well established (Hammerheads from Southampton, and Stoke Mandeville Maulers) so the odds were stacking against us even more.
The other team we faced were The Brighton Buccaneers Wheelchair Rugby Club who we’d played once in a Friendly, but much water had passed under the bridge since then.
But the Destroyers/Woodbridge took the bull by the horns and went for it.
In the first round of matches in December 2016, they won 2 out of their 3. In February they won 1 out of their 3 and coming into the last round of matches they were tied with the Hammerheads (From Southampton) in Second place, but the Hammerheads were way ahead on goal difference, so it came down to the fact that we had to win 2 out of our 3 to become the only second place team.
And it went all the way to the bitter end. The Hammerheads were not having a good day, so we just had to do what we had to do and keep working on their weaknesses. The game was tight for the first 2 quarters with both teams pretty much matching each other, but in the 3rdquarter the Dorset Destroyers started to pull away and had a 7 point lead.
But knowing the Hammerheads who are a very experienced team that work tightly together we expected trouble in the last quarter. But there was much screaming at the Destroyers players, saying “It’s yours if you want it” and lo and behold The Destroyers put their foot on the pedal and by the time the whistle blew The Dorset Destroyers had extended their lead by 14 points, with the final score being Hammerheads 20 – The Dorset Destroyers 34.
We had claimed Second place solely for us in Division 3. Played 9 matches and won 5.
Who would have thought it 1 year ago that a team that had 3 hours training together would end up second in Division 3?
Woodbridge and Dorset had worked together well. It was a great merger and one that never looked good on paper, but team spirit was strong and it was thanks to Woodbridge who let us have our first taste of wheelchair rugby in a League.