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Our first perspective on our Only Connect adventure is from our captain Paul Richardson

My thoughts…..

Having failed to pass the audition in 2016, we had another go the following year and, if nothing else, felt we had done much better. As it turned out, we had as we were offered a place ….so, to dream of winning!

In March 2018, we received our details – yes, the competition is as convoluted as it sometimes seems on TV – and subsequently we headed down to Cardiff for filming.

We were due to play the ‘Poptimists’ in our first match. In chatting to them, however, we discovered that they were University Challenge and other TV show veterans – hmm! Before our official filming, we had a rehearsal run and did okay….perhaps we were justified in dreaming?

On to the actual programme filming (with the wonderful Ms VCM), we started off alright and were leading after Round 1. In fact, after completing ‘The Wall’, we were still in contention and so on to ‘Missing Vowels’…..well, we were blitzed as they say. I even thought that our buzzer wasn’t working as, when we pressed it, our opponents’ light came on! As it transpired, we just hadn’t got quick enough brain-to-finger neural pathways! So well beaten but encouraged by the fact we’d got 19 points

Onto our second match, against the Durhamhites – again University Challenge veterans – once again didn’t do badly up to the end of Round 3 (smashed ‘The Wall’ again!). Then came the ‘Missing Vowels’ again – difficult to get out of my head that we got hammered on this in the last round. Deja vu, however, as our fingers once again weren’t quick enough – lost out (although we scored 20) and so we were out.

Then, one evening, I got a phone call from Cardiff – were we available to get down to play again the following day as a team had dropped out and so we were back in as a highest loser.

Early start to get down to Cardiff and we didn’t play until 5pm so I was feeling quite jaded by then. However, when we arrived in the contestants’ area, everyone was doing cryptic crosswords – intellectual mind games, perhaps. There is evidently a high level quizzing community – which we’re not part of or at least unaware of. Then, time to play – by this time, I’m psychologically scarred from my previous encounter with ‘Missing Vowels’! We’re informed that there’ll be a quick rehearsal – ‘Missing Vowels’ oh no! Didn’t do well.

On to the game against the Brews  – feeling a bit jaded and waiting to be hammered in the ‘Mssng Vwls’ – doesn’t start well, didn’t press the buzzer in time on the first question and by the end of Round 2, we are 9 – 4 down. There were a couple of questions that we had a near miss but I’m thinking that we’re done. So, to ‘The Wall’ – can we get some respectability? Smashed it again! Coming into the studio for the last round, we’re now leading 14 – 13 – we couldn’t, could we (Adrian Chiles once said on Match of the Day that “it’s the hope that kills you”).

So to ‘MV’ – we are one ahead but it’s the nemesis round – unfortunately part of my brain was trying to keep score rather than 100% focusing on the question and….well, same old, same old….we’re on our way home.

But we had a blast and enjoyed taking part and didn’t embarrass ourselves (I think)

Final thoughts
– all the OC crew, including Hannah, Jenny & Ms VCM, were great – very friendly and welcoming – so thanks
– all our opponents were great, better than us – so well done
– Hotpots 3 – 0 The Wall (Nuff said)
– were we ever going to win it – given the calibre of people we met and have seen on Tv, no
– my assessment of ourselves: we were the non-league team that gets through to the 3rd round of the FACup one year – you may dream of winning it but not likely!
– lastly from me Paul “if only, we’d answered that differently…” Richardson – thanks to my two great teammates: Jo “Thanks for including me” Beattie and Paul “we’ve done The Wall three times!” Jackson – great teammates, great company, great ‘drinking buddies’!!