October 2015 – Allow me to set the scene for you.
The Dartford Sharks gear up for their opening game of the season at home in the Shark Tank. Our valiant gladiators strapped up their sandals (or whatever the basketball equivalent is, trainers I guess?) and stared down the rest of the Medway League before going to battle. Fear trickled down the leg of the opposition as an ambitious Dartford team took to the court bellowing, “I AM SHARKTICUS!”
Ok, I may be mixing up gladiator films in this metaphor, but don’t let that cloud the image I’m painting – this was a strong team with their sights set on the Medway League title. There had been some personnel change over the summer, with players promoted from the Dartford Sharks second team, and a couple of new additions that had established this team as one of the favourites going into the season. The music had changed from tense and atmospheric, to quick and determined. Things were getting serious.
The Dartford Sharks season went just like any great gladiator movie. After the opening 10 minutes establishing just how badass the protagonist is, there comes a hurdle that must be overcome. The Sharks faced frustrations early in the season, opening with a couple of tough losses, playing a style of basketball dictated to them by the other team. They were ruled by their emotions and they couldn’t see through the red mist to the greater goal. It was a bloody start for a team once bound for glory.
Then came the mid-point epiphany; a divination from on-high, where our heroes conquer their demons. Focus was reset with an emphasis on team-basketball. This was not a league to be won with a series of 1-on-1 battles – it’s 5-on-5. Every member of the squad was contributing, with a different name at the top of the scorers list every night. The team’s new additions stepped up and made key contributions with their unselfish play, and the bench unit provided a consistency of effort that only comes with a team-first mentality.
A win streak put the Dartford Sharks right back into the title race, and they were not prepared to look back at what was, only forward to the greatness that awaited them. As the season continued, losses from earlier in the season were avenged, and old scores with bitter rivals were settled for another year.
Each win this season was hard-fought. There were a number of tough games against formidable adversaries, notably Gravesend’s Guru Nanak and last season’s champions, the Wizards. Every point was punishing, and every assist arduous, but these persistent pugilists scrapped and hustled for every last one.
All this brings us to March 2016, and once more, allow me to set the scene. Having fought to the bitter end, the Dartford Sharks stand once more in the Shark Tank, battered and bruised. As they stand over their final victims of the season, they look up to the crowd chanting their monika, raise their heads to the heavens and call out, “Are you not entertained? ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”. Seriously though, we cannot wait to defend this title next season, and to see which Hollywood movie narrative we can force upon it this time next year.