Womens Team Series - Naseby - 27/07/2009

Report from Ann Marshall

The secret thoughts of Private Pikey Marshall.

The venue is Naseby, historical scene of battle. And at 9.40am the battle did commence!

TCC's Roundhead army was somewhat depleted with injury but spirits were not dampened, and together we devised a cunning plan to maximise resources – a pincer movement with Musketeer Creswick (recently recovered from the swine ague, now fully aided by a Stewart) on the front line and Private Pikey bringing up the rear.

Prior to pennants being raised, Pikey – determined not to be outnumbered – enlisted the help of Swordsman Avril Swann, a singleton from St Ives willing to help the TCC Roundheads in their cause, cunningly sought out the day before by Captain Kuczaj.

Swann was slightly uneasy about her ability, having fought her own battle only the day previous hence, a 25TT she explained, returning home triumphant in 56mins something, and was doubtful about her strength but was willing to strive for the TCC Roundhead cause..

Secretly, Pikey thought Swann might be an asset to the cause... At the very last moment, because of nearby conflict, the battleground was changed... from the hilly one to the north of Naseby (much to the relief of many) to the equally hilly one to the south of Naseby (the relief was short-lived). Not only this, but the new battleground was half the length and required twice as many laps... Secretly, Pikey thought this must be a Roundhead advantage, since Musketeer Creswick was notoriously powerful charging up hills, and twice as many hills must mean twice as powerful! And, secretly, Pikey thought "I quite liked hills myself"... At last the pennants are raised and battle commences.

Private Pikey finds herself strategically positioned towards the back of the field, which is fortunately quite small, and is joyous to see Musketeer Creswick doing battle near the front. Pikey, who had not had sufficient time to survey the area prior to battle, is also reassured by the words of Swordsman Swann at her side: "It's mostly downhill till the end of the main road, then it goes up, then up, then up again and then up a bit more to the end – be prepared..." and then she's gone. Pikey wished her on her way and heeded her word.

Pikey regretted not being further up the field to provide cover for Musketeer Creswick but secretly knew she was simply not in that league... and besides, she could see that Creswick was looking strong and Swordman Swann was not far behind.

Instead, Pikey secretly decided to inflict as much damage as possible in the rear ranks, working her way up through the field with great determination if nothing else. The laps passed by, the weather stayed clement, and Pikey was doing okay! Her little renegade group of 2 was gaining ground and swelled to 3, then 4, then 7, then dropped back to 5 with two unable to take the pace... Teamwork was good, unspoken, switching back and forth according to the wind... back to 9, 13, 15.

Secretly, Private Pikey thought she was learning a lot! There was even time for reflection… Pikey was aware that in the previous two battles the TCC army had suffered heavy casualties – Speedy Sol and Jouster Jodie – Pikey was happy to have avoided conflict so far with any adversary and in particular with the road, and thought about her injured fellow compatriots, wishing them a speedy recovery.

The final lap is approaching and, secretly, Pikey finds herself in uncharted territory... not because she has wandered off line (not for the first time) but because she has never yet made it to the final lap!

Pikey knew that resolute Musketeer Creswick was still out front, with Swordsman Swann by her side, so she set about planning her own bunch sprint to the line.

Liking hills (good for the finish) but not being a sprinter (not good for the finish) posed a tricky one for Pikey but she resolved to sprint up the final hill none-the-less. In addition, just to make it fun, she identified the ones in her bunch that she most wanted to beat... and beat them she did! Oh Yay! But an even bigger Oh Yay for Musketeer Creswick who finished a magnificent 4th (despite the ague) and also great indebtitude to Swordsman Swann, who finished 6th.

Pikey, secretly delighted with completing the final lap AND sprinting up the final hill to win her own race, was sad to see her efforts initially incorrectly penned by the event recorder… However, she can now confirm that the record has been set straight, and is delighted to report that the TCC Roundheads army of two (plus guest) came fourth in the face of great adversity, the other contending armies numbering four or more.

Not only this, TCC have strengthened their position within the series, Yay! Secretly, Pikey’s belief in the value of competing for the team was reconfirmed, even if working from the back of the field as she was… she never dreamed that she could contribute significantly to the team points, and not only that, to help make a difference to the team standings.

Secretly, Private Pikey is quite pleased, and understands the valuable contribution the lower ranks can make! Private Pikey would be so bold as to mention that there are only two more battles to be fought – Darley Moor on the 29th day of August, and Coalville on the 20th day of September – TCC would dearly love to field a strong team at both venues in order to end the season with an historic flourish!

Finally, Pikey would like to thank (not so secretly) Captain Kuczaj from the bottom of her heart for all her hard work (V for Victory!) and to welcome back Lisa, Lord Protector, whose fine example has proved impossible to emulate.

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