Thunder win Promotion to the England Korfball National League

Friday 13th May 2011.

In a Bristol pub, a group of Korfballers dream up an idea for a new club. They name it after a type of weather, which was very British of them.

Sunday 13th May 2018.

A Bristol Thunder squad containing two founding members wins promotion to the EKL National Premier League, becoming the first South Western team to compete at English Korfball’s top tier since 1996. Exactly 7 years of effort from a huge range of people pays off in the most nail-biting fashion.

Thunder had started the weekend with an intensely fought 18-19 loss to Highbury Korfball Club, losing our grip on the game in the second half to an inspired 10 goal game by Highbury’s Tom Rich. We regrouped and came back stronger for our second game, expertly guided by coach Ross Carr-Taylor and carried by an incredible travelling support to a 12-10 comeback win over Manchester Warriors Korfball Club. This kept us in with a chance of Promotion the following day.

After a top evening of excellent Korfball courtesy of the Premier Division semi finals, we arrived back at the Copper Box bright and early Sunday morning for a must win clash with Norwich City Korfball Club. The squad stepped up again, showing our class with a free flowing 19-13 victory, again buoyed by Ross’ nous and our supporters’ superb noise.

Then came one of the most nerve-wracking hours of our Korfball careers as we took our seats for the crucial final game between Warriors and Highbury, knowing that a Warriors win by a margin of 3 or less would see us promoted on goal difference in a 3 way tie. A ding dong battle ensued, with everyone involved aware of the high stakes and various permutations, but in the end, Warriors ran out 14-12 winners, which saw an explosion of celebration from the Thunder section. We never make it easy for ourselves…

This weekend was simply amazing for everyone involved, and would not have been possible without some insane effort and commitment from a huge range of people. Everyone involved with the organisation of the weekend from England Korfball were superb, hosting a world class event at an Olympic venue, and it was especially wonderful to see young Korfballers compete on the same stage as National League stars.

From a Thunder perspective, the support at the Copper Box was IMMENSE. We’re indebted to those who came and shouted for us from Horfield Korfball ClubUniversity of Bristol KorfballExeter City Korfball ClubUniversity of Exeter Korfball ClubOxfordshire Korfball AssociationLeeds City Korfball ClubCardiff University KorfballCardiff Raptors Korfball ClubCardiff City & Met Korfball, and all of our Thunderers, friends and family (apologies if I’ve inadvertently missed you off that list, there were so many of you!). Also a huge thanks to everyone who sent their support to us on social media, it is all so appreciated, and made such a tangible difference. We are indebted to Ross Carr-Taylor for his superb coaching, dedication and positivity over the last month or so – you have taken us to a new level, and we couldn’t have done this without you. And a final massive thank you to our very own chair Beth Ryan, who organised yet another playoff weekend – logistical hiccups were non-existent, and that’s a massive credit to Beth, our co-founder and Korfball legend.

National League teams, we look forward to welcoming you all to Bristol next season!