Jake & Alanna @ the Legends vs Dream Team on behalf of the Brain Tumour Charity
An event which pits Judo legends of the present day and the past against a team of young juniors was the brainchild of BJA 2017 young volunteer of the year 12 year old Deryn Allen-Dyer and her Mum Wendy.
The idea was that Juniors from around the UK would be nominated to compete on the team and then Legends and Internationals would be approached to face them. Jake and Alanna were both nominated(along with other DJC players) and were successful in being chosen.
They both then went up to Wales to meet Deryn and the other members of the team and think of some ideas to raise money. Alanna came up with a 'wear a hat day' at school amongst other things, Jake set up (via his Mum) a just giving page and got his school involved, bucket collections at training and various other methods combined to give them a quite staggering £1700. I am personally extremely proud of this, having know Jamie personally and knowing the effort put in by Jake and Alanna I know he would have been very proud of them too.
Before the actual day we knew that Jake would be fighting Pete Inman, former British International and son of Legendary British coach Roy Inman, he's also married to Karen Briggs MBE.
Alanna would be fighting World Number one and Olympian Natalie Powell
So no pressure there then!
Before the date, Deryn and Wendy suggested it might be a nice idea to get Pete and Natalie something to commemorate the day, I suggested Plymouth Tea but was roundly defeated, it was decided we would commission some limited edition DJC hoodies marking the event.
The legends taking part included amongst many former 4 x World Champion Karen Briggs, former World Champion Loretta Doyle, former European Champion Brian Jacks, former Olympic Champion Angelo Parisi and world medalist Nekoda Davis.
I myself was in proverbial heaven especially as DJC Vice-Chairman(and double European Champion and former world number 1 Christine Gallie had driven up with me to support both our players. She also took the opportunity to meet old friends, some of whom she hadn't seen for 30 odd years.
After a quite wonderful procession, the Legends and Dream team came onto the mat and the introductions were made.
The action then commenced, it was quite surreal as seeing people like Karen Briggs and Loretta Doyle (who played the pantomime villain sooooo well) fighting again was amazing, especially as I was probably 10 the last time they did compete. The legends didn't fair very well, even though the rules were the same as they had been in the early 1980's (with koka and leg-grabs) most were thrown for Ippon, Brian Jacks was disqualified! He argued his case to the ref and may have leaned on his opponent a little too long when getting up!
Of our players, Jake was first up against Pete Inman, Pete was warned as he had brought his phone into the contest and took the first ever mid-contest photo of Jake and the referee. The action went backwards and forward with Jake attempting Ne-Waza and various throws and finally got his man with a big Ippon.
Alanna was quite nervous facing the highest ranked female player in the UK also Natalie is a massive role models to all our players and therefore she was understandably a little apprehensive at first, the contest was a good pace and then finally Alanna caught Natalie with a huge harai goshi for an ippon win. I have since phoned the IJF to see if we could get world ranking points for it but sadly there was no answer on a Sunday!
After the Team completed its contests the points were totalled, it was a whitewash to the Dream Team! There was then time for photos and exchanging of gifts, Pete and Natalie were very happy with their hoodies and Alanna was given one of Natalie's GB hoodies, our other players raced around getting autographs and selfies(including me!)
It was a wonderful event where the Judo community came together, on days like this you become very proud of your sport,(Christine and I spoke about this on the way home) and proud of our club.
On a personal note it was fantastic to see Alan Petherbridge 9th Dan who is in his 90's and was a former European Champion and Captain of the 1964 Olympic Team. I also got to speak to Angelo Parisi (former olympic gold medalist) who told me about his Olympic final in '84 against the Legendary Saito.
A huge congratulations to Deryn for a wonderful event and a massive congratulations to Simon Goodman who has put in 100's of hours of time, money and effort to get this event off the ground, a huge thank you to Wendy (Deryn's Mum) for her work too!
A wonderful event for a wonderful cause