Newcastle Vikings Handball Club’s men’s and women’s teams played their first competitive indoor handball games in over 20 months on Sunday against the University of York. The friendly matches represented the Vikings’ first games against another club since their last English regional league matches at the start of March 2020 before all handball action was put on hold due to the first Covid-19 lockdown.
Despite being depleted by injuries, illness and the unavailability of several players, meaning that each team was ultimately only able to muster six players to travel down to York and with several having to play out of their usual positions, the Newcastle teams nevertheless gelled together enough to come away with a draw and a win.
Playing shortened 2 x 20 minute matches, the men were first to take to the rather narrow York Sports Centre court, which did not easily lend itself to a usual expansive game due to the lack of space down the wings. Initially the six Vikings lads played against a full team of seven university students, before the second half was played six-a-side after York lost their goalkeeper to injury towards the end of the first half.
The final result was recorded as a 12-12 draw, with captain Adam Mobberley, playing at left-half, leading the way with five goals. Youngster Sam Downie also netted a hat-trick of strikes from the left-wing, while club stalwart Craig Swanson pitched in with a couple of goals from centre and his more accustomed line position. With former junior Viking Charlie Emmett pulling off some brilliant saves between the posts in his first senior game, usual goalkeeper Daniel Walsh played only his second ever outfield game on the right-wing and once again got himself on the scoresheet, while junior player Aaron Edmundson also played well to find the back of the net from right-half.
Newcastle’s team of six women comprised three goalkeepers, meaning that Caroline Bergum and Lisa Bendal each played one half of the match in goal and half out on the wing, while usual keeper Andrea King pulled on the Vikings outfield kit for the first time to play at left-half. Marlen Slinning Goulty top-scored in the 5-12 win with three goals from centre, while Romina Schneider grabbed a brace from the line position having switched with Maria-Jose Gonzalez from playing the first half at right-half, and King also fired in a double. The other five goals came from the younger lads Aaron, Charlie and Sam who took it in turns to play out on the wing to make up the numbers and all got themselves on the scoresheet.
Head-coach Goulty was really pleased with how everyone played, “Fantastic to see the good team spirit and being back at a handball court enjoying playing handball after such a long break!” Newcastle Vikings would like to thank University of York handball club for hosting the matches and look forward to the return games in Newcastle at the end of January.