Every time I hang out with Ryszard, I find myself discovering more surprising facts about him. Not only, as we learnt last summer, is he dangerously good at Netball. He’s also literally dangerous, as we found out to our collective disadvantage at a guest session with the Manchester University Dodgeball Society, of which Ryszard is a member.
Armed with Ben Stiller quotes and a creeping sense of fragility (that turned out to be justified), I turned up at the Active Lifestyles centre in Denmark Road, Manchester and was surprised to see a large group of around 20 of my fellow Webbies looking ready for action.
After a quick warm-up, which consisted entirely of hurling balls at one another aimlessly, we got into teams of 5 and were kindly given our introduction to the world of dodgeball by experienced ‘MUDS’ members. As it turns out the rules are pretty much the exact same as in the film. Three team members race to collect the balls in the centre, and must pass them to the back before they can be hurled at opposition players. Catch a dodgeball? The player who threw it is out, and you get a team member back in. Get hit, and you’re out, and that’s more or less all there is to it.
I ought to publicly apologise to IP Craig H. after I misinterpreted the rules, running forward to grab a dodgeball first and then bouncing it off his face at point blank rage without passing it back. Sorry mate!
Cheap shots notwithstanding, my foreboding sense of impending pain turned out to be more of a premonition than a bad feeling, as my team – consisting of myself, Kris, new guy Adam, Dave and ex-Webbie Mark got off to a rather painful start, beaten in all three of our opening matches.
As I had begun to expect, Ryszard was in fact lethal when in possession of a dodgeball, and I spent 90% of my time in our game against his team dodging relentless artillery fire. Things got better for us though, when we merged teams for some 10 vs 10 games in the last 20 minutes of the session, including one memorable game whereby hitting a high value target player wins you the game automatically.
The session culminated in a ‘last man standing’ match. Things got competitive quickly when Ryszard promised to buy a beer for the winner, and eventually IP Jamie faced up against Dave. I don’t quite remember who won, which you can probably put down to mild concussion, but congrats to all who took part!
All jokes aside, dodgeball was great fun, and I’ll be there again, though I might need to take some deep heat with me next time. I still haven’t quite recovered.