It was a frustrating Friday night for all connected with Esh Group Eagles Newcastle as The Beast from the East blew so hard it forced the Club into cancelling the eagerly awaited BBL Championship clash with Worcester Wolves, writes Jeff King.
There was no doubting it was the correct decision as the safety of supporters, staff, officials and players was paramount and, opponents Worcester would have faced a tricky travel north battling against the elements.
For the Eagles coaching staff it was further frustration. Having got back on track the previous week in a big win over Leeds Force, they were looking forward to pitting their wits against a perennial top six side and one that was runners-up in The BBL Cup Final.
But it wasn’t to be, and they are now forced in to waiting another week before Plymouth Raiders come to town. Worcester would have been a stern test for The Eagles at this time and they would have gone in to the game having missed their last two practice sessions also.
Assistant Coach Ian Macleod, very much an integral and vital part of the Eagles coaching triumvirate alongside Head Coach Fab Flournoy and fellow Assistant Dave Forrester summed up the feelings of the trio following the cancellation.
“It was a frustrating week as we had a few disruptions due to the weather. We can’t control those things, so we simply focused on getting better in practice. We have work to do so we treated it as another opportunity to take a step forward.”
“It may have made the game harder, but we cannot and would not have allowed that thought to creep in. We can have no excuses as everyone has the same problems. The beautiful thing about coaching is that there is no finish line. We can always improve and not just on our deficiencies, our best can also be better.”
With the Worcester game gone and to be re-arranged the focus now turns to Plymouth next Friday night but as Macleod conceded it’s not necessarily about preparing for the opposition.
“To be honest, we are focusing a lot on ourselves right now and not until 48 hours before, so we start talking about how we will approach and adapt to, our opponents. We believe that if we get things right we are a force to be reckoned with, so it always starts with ourselves.”
That said, Newcastle did suffer a damaging defeat to The Raiders in Plymouth last November, so this could be a chance to pay them back and exact revenge.
“The easy answer is to say ‘yes, we can’t wait to have another crack at them’.”
“If we need more motivation to be at our best other than we are competitive people and we are driven, then we would have a problem. Our motivation is to be the best we can and give the fans a performance they can be proud of and passionate about.”
The win against Leeds stemmed a run of three successive home defeats for The Eagles and was a very welcome win. Macleod feels it was needed and can help going forward.
“We are better than we were two weeks ago, no doubt! The key is to be better tomorrow and keep trending upwards. We’ve had some adversity, but we need to accept that challenge and ensure we are more determined than anyone to improve.”
“Unity, clarity of expectations and a culture of selfless hard work are our goals as we focus in for the run to the end of the season. The technical and tactical is a small part, we have to fight together.”
There’s no doubting Macleod’s credentials as a coach as he’s come right through The Eagles coaching system to not only take his place alongside Flournoy with the Senior team but also earned international accolades as Great Britain u18 assistant coach.
This summer, he will be heading to Latvia to play his part as GB compete in the European Championships Division A. A place they earned after gaining promotion from Division B, and winning the silver medal, last summer.
He does so in the knowledge that his coaching CV ratchets up all the time as he looks to further his teams domestically and internationally whilst retaining his own personal goal of getting a Head Coaching appointment in the future.