I’ve been a regular on Chesterfield-based Spire Radio this season as part of the sports coverage from 2pm to 6pm on Saturday’s. They have Chesterfield FC sewn up so I have tended to follow one of the local non-league sides, doing half-time and full-time reports, following up with a slot on the week’s basketball.
However, when the weather has bitten into the football, as it does invariably at this time of the year, I have managed to get some coverage of the WBBL on to the show. This week I was down at All Saints for the Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters against Team Northumbria, having covered the Hatters against Nottingham Wildcats earlier in the season.
How many sports can you see a host of international players for the measly price of two quid? Not many! Well the WBBL is the exception. Sheffield and Great Britain’s Helen Naylor was to play a huge part in the game. Team Northumbria were up to a roster of eight after beating Caledonia Pride by 63-62 with just six fit players the week before. Sadly one of their internationals, Hannah Shaw, didn’t make it on court but was present on the bench.
Northumbria were forced into an early timeout at 16-6 but fought back to within eight at 30-22 at the end of the first quarter. They reduced that deficit to seven by halftime with the score at 55-48. There was little to choose between the two teams. Naylor had scored 17 for the Hatters and Axetievas (who drew apologies from the commentator!) contributed 16 for TN.
Things changed after halftime. The Hatters went on a 23-9 run, influenced by Naylor, Velkey and GB vet Steph Gandy as Northumbria found their defence tough to break down.
The influential Naylor was able to sit for a long spell in the fourth, such was the Hatters dominance. Northumbria weren’t particularly bad but still looked to be suffering from the effects of their injury-ravaged spell. Ovner fouled out for TN with three minutes remaining, having put up seventeen points wearing a knee brace that made me envious (see the blog title!!!) . Their second half had amounted to only eighteen points as the Hatters moved back above them in the table with a final score of 100-66.
The imperious Naylor scored 24 for the Hatters in a display that showed her at her best. Every time I see her play, I am at a loss as to how to define her position. She is genuinely involved and influential all over the court and having suffered injury problems last season, looks to be back at her very best.
I rounded off the weekend by watching the coverage of the WBBL Cup Final, Nottingham Wildcats (well played Ashley Harris by the way – another of my favourite players) beating Caledonia Pride and the BBL Cup Final, Cheshire Phoenix taking the win over Worcester Wolves. All this after being on reporting duties for the Sharks on Friday night!
So people of Chesterfield, think yourselves lucky! Nobody covers hoops in the area like Spire Radio! And if you’ve ever got a spare £2 burning a hole in your pocket, get yourself down to WBBL game – you won’t regret it!