Bear-nefactor Cup Preview

Sam Carter runs down the Tarkett region ahead of this weekend’s Bear-nefactor Cup at Warwick.

On Saturday, Warwick Bears are set to kick off an exciting summer of Ultimate in style by hosting a unique round-robin tournament in aid of charity. Here’s a preview of how each of the nine teams is likely to fare.

Without a doubt, the current pre-tournament favourites are Warwick’s Bearcode. Famous for having one of the most confusing beginners’ team names in recent memory, this side more than makes up in skill what it lacks in the kit department. Andy “Sports Person of the Week” Hillman’s troops will take some beating on Saturday, boasting a wide range of talent and defensive hustle that should make them very hard to break down. On offence, the end zone threats of Kris “Tall” Kerswell and Joe “Even Taller” Van de Wiel should provide imposing targets for the devastating hammers of Rory “Huge” Hughes. Then, of course, there’s Kieran “Lying Cheating Scumbag” Rawal, who has recently revealed a training regime that consists of wrestling polar bears, swimming lengths across the Channel, and throwing the One Ring into the fiery core of Mount Doom. With this in mind, Bearcode’s performance may ultimately come down to how they handle the pressure of the occasion, as anything other than victory will surely rank as a disappointment for this side.

Sam Hawkins (left) does his best impression of Steven Gerrard at Outdoor Nationals.

Sam Hawkins (left) does his best impression of Steven Gerrard at Outdoor Nationals.

Hoping to stop them in their tracks are the reunited Care Bears, who are renowned for their combination of silky cutting and a kit that is the envy of the Midlands. Saturday will mark the return of Ollie “The Waiter” Stidwell after an unsuccessful loan spell at Aston; he replaces the absent Alex “Henson!” Henson, who was last spotted chasing deer in London’s Richmond Park. Elsewhere, rising stars Sam “Arm Like A Traction Engine” Hawkins and Frigate “Frig” Skipper will hope to break into the first team, although a tournament spent languishing on the sidelines looks more likely for these plucky benchwarmers. “Alex” P-Money Porter, Ken “neth Branagh” Tan Wei and Aron “Did He Just Throw That” Lim will instead lead the show from handling positions, aided by the likes of target men Hamza “Fan Speed Zero” Alawiye and Felix “Just One More Lap” Hagemeister. Question marks continue to loom over the squad’s injury concerns, however, and Rob “Do It” Terrett’s status as their fourth-tallest player is undoubtedly cause for concern. If their fitness holds out, both Care Bears teams will set their sights on an appearance in the final on Saturday.

Among the visitors, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Leicester Jesters challenge for that particular honour. Really, their performance on Saturday hinges on who they decide to bring to Warwick; if they choose to field a side that’s close to full-strength, their indoor pedigree should certainly ruffle a few feathers towards the top of the table. Unfortunately, I don’t go to university with any of their players, so this paragraph doesn’t contain any inside jokes. That being said, one of them is probably a Liverpool fan so here’s a handy Vine that you can consult on the day.

Moving swiftly on, it’s safe to say that everybody loves Shakesbears. Indeed, teams have struggled to find a counter to James “Medium Mac” McCormick and Calum “Quite A Nice Guy” Machin’s tactic of disarming opponents through the power of friendliness. Rumours of a training ground spat between Romit Patel and Zak Dunstone have done little to quell the wave of optimism carrying this side of late, and a mixture of pace and height will provide a strong outlet for the calm play of Peter “Laying Out for the Sudden Death Upwind Winner to finish 9th at Midlands Outdoor Regionals 2014” Weightman. Failing that, Shakesbears will likely turn to a reliable Plan B of allowing Ed “Coach” Vinnicombe to injure opposing teams’ cutters, one flailing leg at a time. Our resident analyst Robbie Tink was particularly impressed by the blistering pace of Matt “He’s Fast” Kirk, but when asked whether he thought Shakesbears were capable of winning the title, his response was unequivocal: “No, he’s established a pivot!”

By contrast, nobody really knows who Skimmers are. They could be a be fearsome physical unit of seven-foot monsters that blots out the Sun with an endless cascade of scoobers and laser-knives. Or not. I’ve decided to predict a seventh-place finish, but they could just as easily win the whole thing. Watch this space.

Finally, Coventry’s desire to do well against Warwick sides isn’t likely to die down any time soon, and confidence is surely riding high for a team that won the Bowl with a respectable 13th at Regionals this year. They will hope to carry on this marked improvement onto the smaller pitches of the Bear-nefactor Cup, where Amir Sudra’s teammates have allegedly instructed him to stay as far away from the pull as possible. With recent allegations that they have only joined this tournament “to find Max” remaining unfounded, the Firebirds will likely put up a strong showing based on quickly recycling the disc and passing to star player The Guy With The Green Shorts.

Taken from entirely random guesswork, here’s a list of where I believe each team will finish (note that in the case of squads entering two sides, the “1” after a team’s name simply refers to the highest-placing of the two):

1st – Bearcode
2nd – Care Bears 1
3rd – Care Bears 2
4th – Jesters
5th – Shakesbears 1
6th – Coventry 1
7th – Skimmers
8th – Shakesbears 2
9th – Coventry 2

Whatever happens, the club’s departing Charities officer Michael Shneerson deserves a huge amount of credit for making this tournament possible. Let’s hope he doesn’t celebrate by making that face. You know the one.

And that’s it for The Bear-nefactor Cup; next weekend we’ll be covering the upcoming Mac Line championship.

Sam Carter

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