Vikings 10th Anniversary and mid-season catch-up

Newcastle Vikings Handball Club celebrated its 10th anniversary back in the autumn with a day of celebrations on 1 October 2022.  Past and present senior and junior Vikings players came together to enjoy some fun friendly matches at the Benfield Centre for Sporting Excellence, followed by an evening social party for players and their families at the Tyneside Irish Centre in Newcastle city centre.  

The 2022/23 season has seen our Vikings senior men’s and women’s teams return to playing in the Scottish handball leagues, back where the club played its debut league season in 2013/14, and with most of the matches taking place up in Scotland on a centralised venue basis rather than clubs having home and away fixtures.

The men got their season underway in September with what was the Vikings first competitive league match for two-and-a-half years since the Covid-enforced hiatus in March 2020. However, the heavy 16-42 defeat to Glasgow was unfortunately to set the tone for a winless first half of their league season.

October saw them go down 33-14 to Tryst 77, and then 7-45 to reigning Scottish league champions Livingston in a match for which only six Newcastle players (including two goalkeepers) were available to make the journey north of the border. However, the Vikings lads did get the better of local rivals Durham University in between those league defeats, gaining a well-deserved narrow 38-36 victory in a home friendly match.

Better team performances did follow in November and December, but Newcastle were unable to pick up any league points, despite 11 goals from Marian Machel in the 37-24 loss to East Kilbride’s EK82, 12 goals from Timo Keller in the 23-41 defeat to Edinburgh, and another nine goal haul for Machel in the 35-27 return match loss against Glasgow. Long-time Vikings goalkeeper Daniel Walsh made his 50th league and cup appearance for the club in that Edinburgh match.

However, the first league match of the new year then brought another heavy 46-8 defeat to Livingston, when once again only six players (two goalkeepers) were available to play. January also saw the Vikings lads slip to a 22-32 loss against Durham University in another home friendly match.

Meanwhile, the Vikings ladies opened their season with a 14-26 victory over Troon in October, led by the mother-daughter partnership of Alina and Alex Inta, with Alex scoring 10 goals in her first senior Vikings league match and mum Alina adding seven.

A 20-11 loss to reigning champions Edinburgh in their next game in November was followed by a second convincing victory, 17-8 over Kelvinside, a game which saw winger Blessing Ogbee also making her 50th league and cup appearance. And December’s 23-23 draw with Tryst 77 – aided by Marie Thompson’s 7 goals which took her past 100 league and cup goals for the Vikings – placed them joint second with the Cumbernauld-based club in the league table at the mid-point of the season.

Some of our Vikings ladies also joined together with players from Durham University and Cambridge in December’s pre-Christmas Edinburgh handball tournament, where they lost 6-12 to Edinburgh and 10-11 to Troon before beating an Edinburgh University select team 14-8. A combined Newcastle/Cambridge/Troon team then lost out to an Edinburgh/Troon/Edinburgh University team as the teams mixed together for the final match of the day.

The Vikings’ next matches will see our men taking on EK82 in a home league match at Benfield Sports Centre on 11 February (2:30pm throw-off), so come and give them your support! Our ladies are also due to play at home in an evening friendly match against Durham University on 15 February (8:15pm throw-off), ahead of their next league match against Troon up in Edinburgh on 25 February, when our men will also be in league action against the hosts.

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