I don’t go out of my way to upset people. It doesn’t mean that I don’t ever upset people, but it’s rarely, if ever, my intention. Sorry, I’d better explain that.
I have been a proud member of the Bridgend Quiz League for four seasons now, but you might well have noticed that I don’t often post about the experience – certainly nothing like as often as I write about the Thursday night quizzes in the Rugby club, or even some of the Sunday night quizzes that I play in. This is partly because when you write about things such as quizzes, sometimes , without ever meaning to, you can end up saying things which upset people from other teams, or even your own team. If you do well in a particular match and you write about it then you can come across as being arrogant and big headed. Alright, I can be arrogant and big headed, but I don’t necessarily want to ram it down people’s throats in print. On the other hand, if things don’t go so well in a particular match and you write about it then you can come across as a whinger and a bad sport. Again, both of these accusations can be levelled at me, but I don’t particularly want to flaunt it. In the rugby club it’s different. Like me or lump me, people know what I’m like, and at least I set a quiz there on a regular basis, to make up for it, if you like. Conversely, on a Sunday night people don’t often know me, so it doesn’t matter so much anyway. So there we are. I’m not saying that I think all, any or some of the players in the league even read LAM – to be honest, I have no idea – but you never know. The less you write, the less you have to apologise for.
For all that, though, it would be remiss of me not to write a few lines about the climax of the season last night. Bridgend is a good league, and there are some useful teams, some very useful teams, and some good teams in the first division. Which makes it something of an achievement that in the last three seasons my team, the Llangewydd Arms, has won the League championship and Cup double each time. We completed our League season a fortnight ago, and won the league for the fourth consecutive occasion, winning 13 out of 14 matches. I’ll come to the match we lost shortly, because bizarrely this was for me the most memorable match of the league season. Then last night we contested the cup final, against Tondu Railway Club - one of the aforementioned good teams in the League – and played well enough to retain the cup. All in all it’s been another great season, and I must pay tribute to the other four players who have made up the team during the season – John, Brian, Neil and Gail. Very well played one and all.
In my very first year we had a 100% season, winning all of our league and cup matches. Apparently it had never happened in the league before, and we have certainly never managed to do it since. That’s hardly surprising when you consider the strength of the other teams in the league. Throughout the season you know that at least one team is going to have a really good night against you, when they find the questions suit them, and maybe they have a little bit of the rub of the green, and you’re going to struggle, and maybe even get beaten. It happens – on average once a year for us. Well, this season it was our away match against the Nomads. Before our current team came together four years ago, the Nomads were the number one team. They won a huge number of league and cup doubles themselves, and were the team everyone else had to beat . . . but couldn’t. Our period of success coincided with the Nomads losing at least one very fine player, and they finished 2nd, 3rd and joint 3rd in the last three seasons. It’s a strange quirk of fate, but every year that I’ve played in the league, we have also ended up drawn to play the Nomads in either the quarter final or the semifinal of the cup. All of which means that since me joining the team, up until our away match this season, we had played them no fewer than 10 times, and won all of them.
It looked at the start of that match that we were on our way to an 11th. The format of the normal league quiz in Bridgend is that in round 1, both teams face the same 32 questions, to which answers are written down. We had a small lead after this round. The next 8 questions are individual questions, four of which go to each team, who take turns to pick numbers between 1 and 8. One member of the team may answer two questions, and two others one, or all four members take one question each. The wheels started coming off there and then. I would say that we had one really difficult individual question, but our others were quite gettable. Trouble was, it was the Nomads who were getting them. We had the wrong team members nominated to answer them, and the Nomads were hitting every question, theirs and ours, to the boundary. I think it was either all square after this round, or the Nomads had a slight lead.
The last ten questions are pairs of team A and B questions. Now, on the other occasions we’ve lost, I’ve thought in my heart of hearts that we have had a bit of bad luck with the run of the questions, or the comparative level of the pairings of questions, and ended up losing close matches we might have won. Not this time. This time there was no other word for it. The Nomads were brilliant. It wasn’t that we were picking wrong answers from a range of options. . . in many cases we just didn’t have a Scooby. In fact, if anything we benefitted from getting the easier one from an unbalanced pair at least once. But the answers they came up with on the night were superb. They thrashed us by 10 points.
I never have and never would kick a cat, or other animal, but it was once said to me ‘I can tell when you’ve lost a quiz because you come home in your ‘kick-the-cat’ mood’ and there is an element of truth in this. On the evening we lost to the Nomads, though, for some reason I didn’t feel like that. I suppose it was the fact that they played so well, and I always respect any team who legitimately play us off the park in any quiz. The fact that we played as well as we could on the night helped. The most we could have scored, bearing in mind the limitations of our knowledge might have been another 4 points, which wouldn’t have brought us close to the Nomads’ total. Also I have two mates who play for the Nomads now, for Barry, honorably mentioned in this very blog on more than one occasion, joined them this season. I’m happy for Barry and Steve – and actually for the other guys in the Nomads as well - because I know how excited they will have been about putting in a performance like that, and I’d like to think that the fact it was us they thrashed would have made it even sweeter.
So that was the League season, 2013-14. Thanks to everyone involved, it was a hell of a lot of fun. Any sour notes? Well, actually, yes, just the one, but it has nothing to do with the league itself or any of the other teams. Our home venue hasn’t any of the useful little side rooms which some of the venues have, which make quizzing easy and a pleasure. Up until the end of January we had our own little corner, which was reserved every home game, and at least shielded us from the worst of the noise from the bar. Since January, though, this has been made off limits to us, and we’re stuck in another corner, right in the main area. Oh, and the pub has started doing a Monday night music quiz as well. While the league quiz is on. Unfortunately this coincided with a set of circumstances that meant we had a run of 4 or 5 home games on the trot as well. To say it’s far from ideal would be a huge understatement. Such is life.