Grey, overcast, with a few drips of rain starting to fall… typical conditions for a summer tournament then! Cardiff City’s first summer tournament this year was in Bristol on Saturday 16th June.

With a team of Ian O’Sullivan, Ian Russell, Aidan Dickson, Max Lloyd, Julie Prosser, Elaine Dunlop, Cheya Tyson and Emily Jenkins we were looking forward to a competitive day’s play. Before play could begin, there was a vital task… getting the gazebo up to provide shelter from the rain. Max had guarded a bench from allcomers to give us somewhere dry to sit and after the usual gazebo pole brain challenge, we got the gazebo up. Then, with some expert structural engineering, we fashioned a waterproof floor, two sides complete with counterweights to hold them on (spare trainers!) and some reinforcement from spare poles. We were set.

With 24 teams entered, we were looking forward to our first game against some new opposition. The timetable revealed we faced Cardiff Dragons 2 (not the first time we have played elsewhere, only to face our local rivals). Despite the rather windy conditions, we got off to a good start, winning 5-0 with goals from Julie, Cheya, Max and Ian O. However, Emily provided the goal of the game, with a long shot which swerved dramatically in the wind, before dropping in. Think she was the most surprised player on the pitch! After a break, we had two games back-to-back, beating Horfield 1 5-1, including goals from Cheya, Aidan, a runner from Julie and a self-proclaimed ‘amazing’ long shot in the wind from Ian O. Then we expected a tough challenge from Norwich Ice, but fought back from 0-1 down with an equaliser from Max. Then, in the pouring rain, Cheya put away two penalties to win the game 3-1.

Back to the gazebo to escape the November-like weather, before our next match against Bristol City. Another penalty from Cheya, followed by two well taken runners from Cheya and Julie meant a 3-0 win. Our final group game was against Supernova 2. In a competitive contest, Cardiff City’s goals came from an Ian R long shot and a runner from Max. Cheya and Elaine then worked well together to draw a switch, which Elaine scored from close range. After another obligatory Cheya penalty, the final score was 4-2.

Five wins from 5 in the morning session put us top of our group and into the top 8 for the afternoon matches. Fuelled by Haribo and relatively dry thanks to the modified gazebo, we stepped out into the rain to face MK Roos. As the weather deteriorated to the point where you couldn’t look up the pitch due to the rain lashing in your face, it was looking like a 0-0 draw. Then with 5 minutes to go, Cheya Tyson proved her worth with two well taken goals to provide the 2-0 win.

So, into the top four. We soon found out Dragons 1 had also made the top four, and as fate would have it, we faced them in the semi-finals. Goals from Aidan, Max and Ian R put us 3-1 up with about 5 minutes left. Dragons fought back with a well taken long shot to make it 3-2, but City kept their composure to see the game out and progress to the final.

Back in the gazebo, we watched the rain falling horizontally on the other play off matches and debated with merits of negotiating an amicable draw with fellow finalists Bristol Thunder 1 in order to avoid another 25 minutes being soaked. In tricky conditions, Bristol Thunder retained the ball well, took their chances and went 4-0 up. City got one back through Elaine and were awarded a free pass in the dying seconds which Cheya confidently put away, leaving the final score 4-2 to Bristol Thunder.

An enjoyable, if rather soggy, day was had by all, and it was great to see 6 Cardiff teams competing, with strong results from City (2nd) and Cardiff Dragons 1 (3rd).