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Atomiade Belgium 5-8 June 2015

Harwell Laboratories Recreational Association (HLRA)

(a.k.a. JET FC)

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The Team - 15 players


Left to right

Geoff Broughton, Dave Cookson, Chris Hoy, Andy Steer, Tom Turner, Bill Boon, Geraint Apps and Ed Apps

Alan Potter, Matt Mallia, Andy Potter, James Broughton, James Stock and Richard Findlay

Jamie Potter


The 15th Atomiade had 1200 + participants and supporters from 36 scientific institutes in 12 countries.


Some highlights






We were on the way to the Sun Parks lakeside resort in Belgium for another chance of European football glory. The Atomiade had loads of sports but we had our eyes on the elusive football trophy.


Our two new recruits, James Stock and Jamie Potter, savoured English cuisine at the Euro Tunnel entrance.



Alan bought a round of beers and Chris rendezvoused with a mysterious female.



An intensive training regime had conditioned our bodies for stupendous volumes of beers, foreign food and late nights. But could the fourteen Englishmen and a Kiwi play football in continental temperatures?


The journey was uneventful since the migrant crisis was yet to descend on Calais.


On arrival, Geoff the designated team leader took complete control leading the first twelve arrivals directly to the chalets. Andy S, Richard and Matt had the pleasure of Geoff’s shortcut through a dense thicket and the miniature golf. The chalets were just as we left them in 1999, 2000 and 2007 including the stains on the mattresses.


Geoff was waylaid by Danny from Belgoprocess and was ushered into team captain’s meeting. This exclusive club for the 50 really important people decided the competition rules over numerous cans of ice cold Jupiler.


The vast 100m marquee accommodated 1,200 finely tuned athletes competing for a lexicon of sports from volleyball to pétanques and triathlon to chess. We found our allotted table and tucked into beef stew and chips.



Dave and Tom showed they knew nothing about vintage wine. Stick with the beers.



If you had to go, either a blue chasm awaited or an alfresco loo. 



Henry Koekenberg, the ASCERI President, built the tension to a frenzied climax. “Atomiade 2015. Are you ready?!


It’s disco time.



Geraint made acquaintance with Ed’s new Italian toy boy. No tongues on the first date.



Some woman led the Zumba on stage for the best part of an hour. Jamie decided to join the party.



More beers please.


The night wound down with pool, air hockey and the punch machine.




First priority was to establish an encampment out of the sun.


The opening game was against our Belgium chums from Belgoprocess. Geoff had invested the club funds in boxes of English craft ale to startle the opposition into submission.

Half time was 0-0 but we went down in a keenly fought game.

The fair play award was blown when Matt gained a yellow card for a harmless ankle tap.

Belgoprocess 1            Harwell 0


The players became impatient for the next game with idle kicking around of the ball. Andy S hit the stash of English beer while practicing his signature wayward shots. The cardboard disintegrated into a foaming mess as the Hobgoblin shattered. Fortunately some Tesco’s finest Scotch whiskey had been brought in reserve.


Our kiwi, James S, met up with Ann Sophie his Belgium exchange student. Small world. They had a lot of catching up.



Second game was against Cadarache. Their chocolates from the south of France were melting in the summer heat just as our warm English beer was reaching perfection.

The first Cadarache goal was a rocket from the left hitting the right post.

Geraint then headed weakly to the edge of the penalty area. The striker chipped over and then scored off the left post. Geoff was still gathering momentum from a standing start.

CEA Cadarache 2       Harwell 0


Bill was rather peckish by now and was willing to eat anything placed between some bread.



The third game was against Hungarians in the stadium. Jamie was puzzled by bottle of UNICUM. This is a secret formula of more than forty herbs aged in oak casks. A strange cross between treacle and Venos Cough Syrup.


Despite alcohol infused promises the previous night, James Stock declined to perform the haka in the stadium.

The Hungarians were a bunch of veterans who also lacked firepower. James B lobbed the keeper, Jamie ran in and missed ball but would have been off side. Andy S repeated his well-rehearsed routine and fired over the bar.

KFFI 0            Harwell 0


Perhaps all we lacked was poise, pace and ability.



The Swiss champions, Villigen PSI, were the fourth opponents.

Bill claimed the award for fastest free kick ever on tour. The centre forward was still in the centre circle and was sent rolling six times. He was poleaxed twice more during the game and never recovered his composure. Our gander was up, Jamie’s shot was saved and Andy P scored but was given offside by the distance ref (there were no linesmen at this early stage).

Harwell 0        Villigen PSI 0


More practice was necessary.




A haka might help.



Time was passed while waiting for the coach by sipping cold beer, braving the Hungarian Unicum, relaxing in the sun and drying the kit.



After the spaghetti, we skipped the band and headed for the other bar to watch the European cup final.


What could be better than attempting a night time trip to Eindhoven by boat? Messing around on the swan pedalos in pitch darkness without any hope of rescue.



Pool and air hockey were far more sensible.





Next morning Geraint was judged to have passed the fitness test, just.


Fifth game was against the Dutch team Areva NC La Hague.

Areva scored in the first half with a glancing header from left which ricocheted off Geoff’s arm. Richard limped off with a bad back.

Harwell 0        Areva TA 1


Having failed to make any impact in the group stage, we were now competing for lower places in the knockout competition.


Next up were Karlsruhe with Markus’s son as captain.

Something really strange happened in the first half. A corner floated in and Jamie scored a header. Only took six games to get on target.

Then Andy S took the ball calmly around the keeper to score. Easy peasy.

The scent of victory over the Germans inspired us to greater things. In the second half, Dave cropped a player just near our box. He squawked and squawked then squawked a bit more. Minutes passed until he squawked no more. The Red Cross arrived with a stretcher and full medical kit only for the player to hobble off the pitch.

Geoff punched the resulting free kick over the bar to secure the win.

Harwell 2        Karlsruhe 0


Time to relax in the shade and then practice the football skills for the final game.




The 9th – 10th place decider was against Moscow who must have run out of their vodka gift packs. They had to be content with the Tesco’s finest scotch.

The only moment in the game was when Geraint gave the ball away with soft pass. Geoff saved the one on one.

Moscow 0       Harwell 0

European tours would never be complete without a penalty shoot-out. Penalties were scored by Dave, Tom, Andy P. Followed by Ed and Bill misses.

Geoff was near the first with a fabulous left dive. The second was unstoppable from a mighty run up. Third and fourth scored. The game was lost 4-3.


Tom collected the awesome 10th place trophy.


Belgoprocess were outclassed in the final and lost 0 – 3 to a much younger team from Cadarache. Both teams had narrowly beaten us in the group stage.


Returned back to Sunparks for a well-deserved paddle.


The boys from Harwell slowly gathered outside the chalet to quaff the Unicum.




The Hungarian herbal potion had some odd side effects. The cross on the bottle may have been a warning about dire consequences.



Alan decided that the evening now required the Douvel and red wine.


Geraint volunteered to wash both sweaty kits.


One item Geoff had overlooked during the meticulous planning was toilet paper. The six berth chalets had been stocked with just one roll each. There also had been series of last minute panics over our uncertain squad numbers and an extra charge for towels, sheets and the tourist tax. This was smoothed over by Rosemary McLaughlin who promised Geoff a Glaswegian kiss if it ever happened again. She was mollified by a bottle of Gordon’s gin.


Our team list had caused a flutter of excited emails between Rosemary and Henry.

Wow! I just noticed that Sir Chris Hoy is joining us.

It's a bit delicate but how do I play this? Is he coming incognito? The publicity would be great for ASCERI but I wouldn't want to overwhelm him, especially if he's just out for a weekend with the lads. So I guess you're going for gold then!! I'm not a great football fan, but I might make an exception this.


There really could be no mistaking the real McHoy.



There was a tie for top scorer between Andy S (1) and Jamie (1). Andy S was awarded the top scorer trophy since Jamie’s goal was assisted by Andy’s precision corner.


There was no doubt that James S had won the players’ player award for his defensive duties.


Dave graciously wished the crippled Italian a speedy recovery in the spirt of international reconciliation and sportsmanship.



There followed a band in the giant marquee with another band performing simultaneously in the bar. Too much excitement.



Come and look who’s dancing!

“Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.


Markus told us later on a visit to Abingdon that the Italian needed an operation on torn ligaments and had time off work. Should have rested the leg.


Geoff and Alan met up with Danny for a very late night drinking session. The plan for Belgoprocess to visit Oxford was planned, sort of.


The early hours of Monday were a blur. James B returned to the chalet without the door pass. Knocked on Geoff’s downstairs window but his dad was in the bar with Danny. Andy S could not sleep with the tap tapping so let him in. Geoff spent five minutes trying and retrying the door pass at different angles at the wrong chalet because every chalet is identical in the darkness. Alan took a wrong turn and wandered the estate for 30 minutes.





Andy S held aloft the top scored trophy which he will always treasure.


Perhaps 10th place out of 12 was harsh. We did well against the finalists in the group of death. The overall score from the seven games was only 4-2. A few more goals might have put is in the upper echelons of the knockout competition. We were placed next to bottom in the Atomiade medal tally (see below) but we only entered the football!


On the bright side, Alan ordered a set of union flag tattoos from Amazon to emblazon our faces. These arrived too late for the tour. Alan was still scrubbing the tattoo off a week later.




HLRA 10th out of 12

Our chance of the fair play was blown during the first game


We were next to bottom but only entered the football!


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