Sunday, 12 June 2011

The best team in Britian

The wingman recently asked on the British Handball Forum, which team has been the best of the past decade. But which has been the best in the history of British handball? In the light of Great Danes' impressive domectic record over the decade they have a case. Of course it is never easy to compare teams from different eras but the Danes' impressive record over recent years would certainly take some beating. The list of honours recorded by The wingman reads as follows:

2011 - English League Champions
2011 - English Cup Champions
2010 - English League Champions
2009 - English League Champions
2009 - English Cup Champions
2008 - English League Champions
2008 - British Cup Champions
2007 - Weymouth Beach Handball Champions
2007 - English League Runners up
2007 - British Cup Champions
2006 - British Cup Champions
2006 - 3rd place in England League
2006 - Runners up in Weymouth Beach Handball Tournament
2005 - British Cup Champions
2005 - England League Champions
2005 - Oktopus Tournament (Eindhoven) Champions
2004 - British Cup Champions
2001 - England League Champions
2000 - England League Champions

So in summary

7 English league championships
5 British Cups
2 English Cups
1 Beach Handball
1 Tournament

The records I have to hand are incomplete and other caveats such as the ability of teams to field their strongests teams consistently and the quality of opposition at the time make comparison even more difficult. However, some teams that might be considered for comparison are the following:

Brentwood '72 (mid '70s to mid '80s)

The records that I have at hand show that they were English League champions each year from 1979 to 1983, British Cup winners each year from 1979 to 1982 and Bristol Tournament winners in 1981. In essence for this period of time they were untouchable and this made the 1983 Cup Final when the lost to thier arch rivals Liverpool by one goal all the more memorable, although as a report of the game shows Brentwood had a number of important players missing. Why were this team so good? In two words, Goran Gazivoda. Not just because he was the highest profile handball player ever to be involved in British Handball, or because he was one of the best coaches to pass knowledge on to British players but because he assembled a team of the best British players. The best players were prepared to travel miles to be part of the Brentwood set up, in fact the remaining members of the British team based in England all played on Merseyside.

Whether Brentwood's dominence at the time was a good thing for the long term good of the game is open to debate but is not the topic here. The facts speak for themselves; for almost 5 years between 1978 and 1983 Brentwood did not lose a single game in domestic competition.

Despite this record teams in England that may rival it are Kirkby in the early '70s and Liverpool from the mid-80s however my records are incomplete so I leave it for others to proide support in terms of numbers of titles.

East Kilbride (mid-70s to mid-80s)

I know little of Scottish handball but East Kilbride's record published in the entry of 4 October 2009 shows that they won 6 Scottish Championships and 5 Scottish Cups between 1974 and 1979. The entry club's Wikipedia entry further claims Scottish Championships in a further two years 1983 and 1984 after the club had merged with Barrhead to become EK82.

A rival bid could I imagine be put forward by Tryst '77 of Cumbernuld in either the '90s or '00s but again I leave it for others to provide comprehensive data.

For women's handball my records are even more sketchy but if records are available for Ruislip Ladies after the mid-80s or Wakefield Metros or Tiger Belles before the mid-80s, I think there might be some periods of dominence showing up.

Of course it would be useful if
full records could be published by the Associations or, if records are missing, that they started wikis on the sites (if they have already I couldn't find them). That way we could share all sorts of records, documents, photos etc centrally.