Water Polo: British champs Portobello weigh up Euro challenge

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British water polo champions Portobello are now considering whether to take up an invitation to enter a European Cup after a stunning first-ever victory in the British Championship.

Since the national event was introduced in 1986 it had become something of a holy grail for Porty who suffered a few near misses including a final appearance in 2007.

But the timing of their initial triumph could not be better with the Bellfield Street Baths club celebrating their centenary year.

Coach Alan Anderson says various options are on the table as a way of marking the milestone. “Entering the European Cup is a possibility, but a potentially expensive one, so we are going to take some time to think things through.

“I was fortunate to play at European Cup level when I played for a London water polo a while ago and some of the other lads have similar experience. It is a very big commitment but nothing can take away the thrill of winning the British Championship and we remain hopeful of hosting a British League weekend at the refurbished Royal Commonwealth Pool.”

In the final Porty beat host club Manchester 8-5.

Anderson says: “It wasn’t until later in the evening that the significance of the achievement began to sink in for all of our squad. The older guys knew how hard we had been pursuing this trophy over so many years and it gradually dawned on the younger ones that this sort of success didn’t happen all the time.”

Nearer home Portobello, who will hold a centenary dinner later this year, have eyes trained on staging a League weekend in October.

“We are in negotiations with Edinburgh Leisure and hopefully our Championship win will have helped push the case for a big weekend of water polo at the RCP,” added Anderson who revealed just how Portobello had to draw on their well of determination to pull through.

“In the semi-final we edged out Bristol 9-8 when James Scobie scored a lobbed goal with six seconds left to take the tie into extra time where he again struck with a lob in the last second.”

In the final’s opening quarter the teams were deadlocked with two minutes remaining when goals from Nuno Oliveira, Ed Grundy and captain Neilson Rutherford saw Porty forge ahead. The same trio put Porty 6-2 in front at half-time before Rutherford and James Scobie sealed the win which still required goalkeeper Bohan Donevski to produce several quality saves to shut out Manchester, who were hosting the finals.

Anderson said: “This success is something we had been building up to.

“As the season went on the guys were growing in self belief but we do have players who have represented Scotland and Great Britain so they knew the standard required and were able to help a number of talented youngster coming through our development system.”