Our one and only, current President, Ben Tinkler-Davies was congratulated for his “Outstanding Contribution” to our Club and became one of the seven incredible winners. During his four years with us, he has been an outstanding player, Captain, Vice President and President; and, although we are incredibly proud, we will be sad to see him go as he graduates this year. However, we cannot wait for him and his fellow alumni to convincingly beat Oxford in the Alumni Water Polo Match next year. Ben is an amazing asset to our Club and is undoubtedly the best player the men’s side have ever been lucky enough to have grace their team sheets, and the next number 9 will certainly have the biggest shoes to fill. Tinkler-Davies represented Great Britain at several age group levels throughout his time at school; and, in his first year, he also played and trained with the GB team, alongside his studies, as well as playing in the World University Games in Taiwan. His kindness and generosity know no bounds and he has given up so many hours of his time captaining and coaching both teams on the men’s side, and he is an inspiration to us all. Selflessly thinking of the Club’s best long-term interests, he has made huge efforts to improve alumni relations and connections, ensuring that our motto of “Once a Tadpole, always a Tadpole” stands true.
The wonderful, former Men’s Water Polo Secretary, Henry Stuart-Turner was also nominated for an award this year – Unsung Hero. Henry has been an integral part of the water polo squad for three years now and is always putting the interests of others before his own. We are so fortunate that his medical degree means that he will be with us for a further three years. Not only has Henry organised all of the Men’s 1sts water polo matches this year, he has offered support and coaching to the Men’s 2nds, many of whom will hopefully progress into the 1sts team next year. Furthermore, when Stuart-Turner is not in the water playing himself, he regularly gives up his own time to table matches for our Men’s 2nds and Women’s teams. Henry has also organised our termly College League tournaments, which is a perfect opportunity for those not part of CUSWPC to try water polo and enjoy some friendly match play. Henry never asks for kudos and always goes above and beyond out of the kindness of his heart. He really is CUSWPC’s Unsung Hero!
With the inaugural Cambridge University Sports Awards CUSWPC were one of the only clubs with multiple mentions. Henry Stuart-Turner and Ben Tinkler-Davies were put forward for the Unsung Hero and Outstanding Contribution to Sport respectively. It was a great honour for both members to be recognised for their great efforts in and out of the pool.
Varsity Dinner merged with the annual Taddies Dinner (usually held in Easter Term) this year, and was held on the 7th March. This change enabled alumni of all ages to come back and celebrate a wonderful season with the current cohort, and what a stroke of luck that move was! The dinner was held in the beautiful dining hall of Hughes Hall College, after a drinks reception where our talented aquatic athletes had the chance to mingle and sample much more pleasant fluids than the usual pool-water (a bit of bubbly), wearing significant finer (and more) apparel than we were used to seeing each other in. Members of all sections of the club, from Marlins, water polo and Blues swimming, were all treated to a delicious three-course dinner, including guinea fowl and a mouth-watering chocolate terrine, punctuated by (potentially a tad lengthy) speeches and topped off with a coffee-reception. The evening was an uproarious success, with the vino flowing, Tadpoles past and present celebrating the successes (and losses), but mainly the journeys undergone together and the friendships and experiences made over the years, and an unforgettable (or forgotten, depending on inebriation levels) trip to DangerSpoons afterwards. Fines were aplenty, each and every person present looked stunning, and we were lucky to have a photographer present to record the fun, beauty and shenanigans of the night. Taddies Dinner is one of the highlights of the year, and it was truly an honour to be able to bring everyone together especially given how quickly things went downhill only a week later. It was the perfect end to the year, and as a finalist the perfect goodbye to four years of CUSWPC, so a tear or two may have been shed. I have every confidence that this great tradition will find a way continue, and cannot wait to come back next year to see what new tales have arisen in the Club in my absence.
At a glitzy dinner at the end of the season CUSWPC managed to celebrate all the achievements of the club over the past year. With several alumni announcing themselves as undefeated Varsity champions for their whole CUSWPC career it really was a night to remember.
The day started strong, with a convincing 9-2 win from Cambridge’s Seconds team, in what was only the second ever Women’s Water Polo Second’s Varsity match. Goals from Ellie O’Keefe, the team’s top goal-scorer, gave Cambridge an early lead. Impressive defensive work from Amy Purohit, Bethan McGinley and a few later goals from Jessica Derrick gave Oxford no chance of catching up.
Then was time for the Women’s Blues match. This year’s Blue’s match was one of the most competitive and close-fought Varsity’s in recent years. Both teams played at the highest level and it ended with an utterly nail-biting finish. Great goals from Lara Tritton, Jessica Waters and a rapid counterattack from Iris Hall saw Cambridge edge a small lead over Oxford coming into the second half. Goalkeeper and incoming captain, Rebecca Howitt, who has only this year picked up water polo, made some spectacular saves and kept Oxford from catching up throughout the third quarter, but the score line remained uncomfortably close. The final quarter saw Oxford inch one goal ahead. Refusing to give up, Seren Jones Reddy made an incredible shot and equalised the score yet again, but it was just not meant to be. A last-minute counterattack put Oxford one goal ahead in the final ten seconds, giving them the final 12-11 win.
Although we were all heartbroken to lose such a hard-fought match, the dedication and improvement displayed by this year’s squad gives me every hope, that as new players continue to develop and the club hopefully sees improvement in training facilities, next year’s team will bring it home for Cambridge. Best of luck to the incoming Captains, Rebecca Howitt and Jessica Waters, and the rest of my teammates who I have had the pleasure of playing alongside throughout the last few seasons.
In only the 2nd Women’s 2nds Water Polo Varsity Cambridge made it 2 wins in 2 with a resounding 9-2 victory. In a thrilling 1sts match the score changed 3 times in the final minute. With a heart-breaking finale O*ford scored the winning goal with just 5 seconds remaining.
As is usually the case, this year’s varsity Men’s Varsity match was both fiercely competitive and high in quality from both sides with only a slender 3 goals margin giving premier south champions Oxford a 15-12 win over a Cambridge side, sitting comfortably at second place in the league below.
In-keeping with recent years’ Varsity performances, the Cambridge team punched well above their weight to put on a show, despite the high-calibre of the opposition and the relative lack of a home pool that the team has struggled with over the years. It was a rapid start from the light blues with new blood, Joe Gebers, Noah Cooper and Tobias Bader all on target in the first quarter. However, a lethal combination of both an international-standard centre-forward and outside shooter for Oxford put them in the driving seat at half-time.
With the game looking like slipping away completely, Cambridge fought back spiritedly in the with great combination play on the right side from Alex Norcliffe and Isaac Hinchliffe and some tenacious outside shooting from the top of the arc from Ben-Tinkler Davies and Gellért Peresztegi-Nagy. Despite a monumental effort in attack and defence- notably from incoming Captain Thomas Adams at centre-back and Henry-Stuart Turner with a fantastic late penalty save, Oxford’s star players clichéd them a hard-fought victory.
Notwithstanding the heart-breaking result this year, the young Cambridge team showed huge promise and a well-defined identity that has made them national cup finalists this year as well bringing an incredibly solid league campaign. With the right management, support and continued investment in facilities going forward, this magnificent club can only improve.
As ever with the Men’s 1st Varsity Match the game was tight but cheered on by a winning Men’s 2nds Team everyone gave it their all. Although O*ford managed a narrow 15-12 victory the Light Blue underdogs pushed the team right to the wire and nearly toppled the BUCS Premier Champions from their perch.