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Atomiade Italy 8-11 June 2018

Harwell Laboratories Recreational Association (HLRA)

(a.k.a. JET FC)

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This page shows the best photos with a storyline while all photos are here.


The Veteran Team - 10 players (some not quite veterans) and the manager


Geoff Broughton, Alan Potter, Andy Potter, Andy Steer, Geraint Apps, Mike (Italian host, Geordie),

Tom Turner, Richard Findlay, Matt Mallia, Robert Mallia, James Broughton, Jamie Potter


The 16th Atomiade had 1200 + participants and supporters from 36 scientific institutes in 12 countries.


Some highlights

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JET were on the way to the beautiful Italian lakes just north of Milan. As it turned out, we did not actually see Lake Varese. Richard Findlay had trained for 12 months to enter the 16k trail run up and down a mountain but decided that his medal hopes lay with football.



We had a cunning plan. Having only enlisted 10 players for the normal 11-a-side team with Jamie as the manager, we asked the Italian hosts if there were spare players from elsewhere. They replied that we could enter the Veteran’s 6-a-side tournament and include our young supporters.

“Please note that for small field soccer we have introduced a derogation to have two young players even below the age of 30, under condition the average age 33 is still respected.”


This surprising rule change had two consequences. JET could field a cracking team running rings around old men. The other teams could no longer bring their youngsters because the hotels were full. We were therefore brimming with confidence. Beers all round at Gatwick.

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Even the perennial Italian transport strike could not stop the JET tour because Alan’s pre-booked mini bus whisked us from Malpensa Airport to Varese. The gateway to the Italian lakes.

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Beer is beer in any language.

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Google translate failed to translate the menu but Italian food is Italian food in any language.

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There were some wise words. “It's a very difficult job and the only way to get through it is we all work together as a team. And that means you do everything I say.”



The local hippodrome was the venue for the Atomiade in a 100m long mega marquee.



There was also a 100m long queue to obtain tickets for the 100m long queue for the food and drinks.

The caterers were a little overwhelmed. Hell’s Kitchen meets the Italian Botch Job.

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1,200 people in a tent will eat an impressive amount of food if allowed.



We tried our best to drink the weedy cheapo beer but failed.

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Sadly, the cost conscious hosts did not order any portaloos for the 1,200 guests. There was a trot to the racecourse pavilion; the going was soft to very soft, then a canter down wet steps while in an advanced state of inebriation. Here is the view from the loo.



The opening address of utterly inaudible but the winner’s rostrum seemed to have our name on it.



Markus was not best pleased about the organisation, Brexit and leaving JET in 1998.



We were entertained by gymnasts performing acts no longer seen in Britain.

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And Europop acts that are never seen in Britain.

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So we headed off back into the town. After lots of high strength Belgium beer, Alan gave the pavement a Glaswegian kiss. A visit to McDonalds for some paper serviettes stemmed the bleeding but this could not prevent the black eye.





This is what the Bosto football ground looked like from the air. The reality was that the Astro carpet was threadbare with only the concrete foundation to cushion your fall. Somehow the Euro gravy train did not reach this sports centre.

Football Ground


The Veteran’s tournament was divided into three Gruppos. HLRA Harwell was drawn in B and avoided the two Groupos of death. Group A contained the JRC Ispra hosts who could call on a wide pool of players while the other teams were limited to only those who bothered to travel. The Ispra veterans would have a nice quiet evening with the family while everyone else was on the razzle. Group B had the much fancied Muscovites who had the choice between sport and achievement for the Motherland or a long vacation in a gulag. The heroes of the Soviet Union were old men when we first encountered them at Ispra ten years ago. The passage of time had only honed their skills.





The Italian hosts supplied three professional refs. Only one was worth a photo.

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Jamie the manager careful explained the tactics for the first game. James – you are to kick the ball into that net.

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Tom – do you remember how to kick a ball?



Geraint – you need to provide the intricate passing and fluid movement linking our defence and strikers to contain their outfield players while allowing our intelligent, nimble attackers to create space and drag the opposition out of position. Yes – you can stand just there while you think about it.



First game was against the Germans from KTE Karlsruhe. A fair exchange of Waitrose finest bargain Scotch for some German snaps.


First goal of the tournament was an own goal by Geoff the goalkeeper knocking in a corner hammered towards the front post.

Second half was a bit different with goals from Rob, Andy P and Rob.

Final score 3-1.


Time to relax in the shade at Camp Harwell a little piece of England. Five of the ten tourists were not born in England. Alan, always busy, made sure we were comfortable.

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Next up were the Belgians from Belgoprocess specialist suppliers of medical radionuclides. A useful team ten years ago but way past their best.


Start as we mean to go on. Andy P own goal. Then an equaliser by Andy P.

JET stormed the second half with Matt, Andy P and James finding the net.

4-1 win


Matt came a cropper with a loud yelp. We aroused the three first aiders from their slumber and urged them to attend the incident. Training has taught the first aiders that the immediate response is to see if the player recovers. Then slowly, very slowly wander to the prostate casualty. Their heavy duty day glow orange uniforms did not allow any rapid movement during the Italian summer.



Matt sat out the next game and watched his ankle blacken in the humid climate. Note the unimpressive ham sandwich which was the highlight of the packed lunch. Meanwhile, Rob checked his nipples for leakage.

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Third game was against ASCEA Grenoble. They had the audacity to forget the exchange of gifts protocol and beat us 0-1.


0-0 half time

1-0 loss


JRC Karlsruhe #1 had a better attitude supplying a different brand of snaps.


Win 2-1 with goals from Rob and James.


Their competition was effectively finished: for you the tournament is over. The German spent the rest of the time drinking beer and playing heavy rock. We contemplated the knock-out stage after finishing top of Groupo B.


Alan went AWOL at some point in the afternoon. Apparently he spent an hour cleaning the toilet hole. Yes, that was the facilities in the changing room. Perhaps Alan’s aim was wayward due to concussion from the previous night or he regressed to a previous life as a khazi cleaner in British Calcutta. However, Alan added a mild dose of cholera is his growing list of ailments.



There was no food scheduled for Saturday night. So, off to the local Pizzeria where the experience was in utter contrast to the previous evening. While the waitress was still taking the order from the last of the group, plates were being served for the first. Admittedly they wanted us out within an hour but this was impressive service.

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The hot evening demanded ice cream, coffee and cool beers.

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Followed by alfresco beers and a wander back to the hotel.

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There was time for another McDonalds where they had kept some of Alan congealed blood.



Meanwhile, the hosts had laid on some food at the Hippodrome for the sad people without the gumption to find a bar, any bar, and yet more euro trash.


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Beat two more teams and we were in the final. The quarter finalist was the “JRC Ispra Atomiade Veterans” who had slept soundly at home.


First half was 2-1 with Rob and Andy Steer doing the business. Then followed James twice and Rob. 5-1.


Matt ran rings around the opposition even with a purple ankle.



The concrete underfelt was taking its toll with James sporting some scrages. Some European swine had also trodden on his fingers.

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Rob was hungry for more football while Geoff was just hungry.

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Me Phi Moscow were the semi-finalists. They had sent scouts ahead to sus out our youth contingent. About now Rob started to feel unwell.





The aged Muscovites were masters of walking football. Their first goal came from a corner. The players circled within the penalty area closely followed by our markers. Then a quick ball to a man on the edge of box, shot, a collision between Geoff and Richard on the goal line and the ball was in the net. Bam! 0-1.


Second half James dashed from the halfway line past a grandfather and slotted a goal. The Russian goalie went ballistic at the stranded defence. 1-1.


The Russian second was an Andy Steer own goal after rushing into the net. 1-2.


The Russians could now take their time. Their goalie walked the ball out from the area while the players slowly moved to positions on the side-lines. Suddenly one runs into our empty penalty area and nearly finished the game.


The same happened again. Our defenders followed their man to the side lines. The Moscow keeper walked to the half way line and opened fire. The thunderous shot was saved low to the left. We found out later that he was an ex-professional.


Another goal later and we were beaten 1-3. The games were 13 minutes each way which are far too short to learn and adapt. Out-passing them was impossible but they had no defence against a one man break.


Always a pleasure to play these guys from Moscow.


The 3rd / 4th place final was against ASCEA IRSN FAR from Cadarache in southern France.


No messing around. 1-1 James first half. Then James and Rob twice. Win 4-1.


The Italian hosts for the veteran’s tournament where well organised. They kept apologising for the lack of food. Mike, the Geordie, awarded the 3rd place medals.



We reciprocated with the tour whisky. Paolo, the overall organiser of the Atomiade later had some awkward moments with the local Carabinieri.

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The old men from Moscow went on to win the final beating JRC Ispra with their patient build-up. The hosts had the luxury of entering an A and B team.

See the Muscovites running. The photo below shows them celebrating with their wives, daughters and granddaughter.

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The veteran’s tournament was a resounding success.



We needed a beer out of the sun. Geraint and Rich managed to share a masseuse in the changing rooms.



Geraint was given a Newcastle United shirt and gained a Geordie attitude.



Some refreshment on the public bus.

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More jollity at the marquee. This was the entertainment at the end of the beer queue.



The food was some sort of undercooked gristle. UK supermarkets sell this animal bye-product after 6 hours tenderising in an autoclave with a sachet of fancy sauce. The Italian hosts could have save a few more euros by not bothering with the flimsy plastic knives and forks.



Before the serious drinking began in earnest, the votes for Player’s Player were counted while we could still count.



Alan managed to stuff the ballot box and won handsomely. After a quick verification, the Returning Officer gave the award to James Broughton.


The number of goals scored was as follows. The first three players would have been underage under the normal rules. Matt was just allowed. Perhaps the 17 goals scored by the youngsters influenced the results, just a tiny bit.



Own Goal







Andy P






Andy S







Andy S bagged an award for scoring a goal while being a bone-e-fide veteran.



Rob left soon after receiving the top scorer trophy (James already had a trophy). He was not well. Nasty stuff was being expelled from both ends. This left a difficult calculation to share the alcohol (24 Guinness’s, one Belgian beer, 2 Karlsruhe snaps, 3 Proseccos and 1Russian vodka) between 9. This feat was achieved with some gusto.

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The Russian vodka was unanimously voted the winner during the blind drunk tasting. The Russians know how to produce fine vodka. The Karlsruhe snaps was likened to industrial grade alcohol, passing momentary a desiccated peach stone, originally developed to lubricate the 88 mm main armament of the Wehrmacht panzers of the third Reich. The Germans know how to produce de-greaser.


Jamie found a Bavarian hat and started to floss his body. His father showed no shame.

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The crowd sang La Marseillaise twice despite being in Italy.



The pop group sang Wee are zee champions, wee are the zee champions, my friendz.



Much later that night, Geoff spent 15 minutes trying to remember if the hotel was down the road to the left or right. Alan appeared after a long excursion and was of little help. They were both stuck in a foreign field without a working mobile phone, map or common sense. Fortunately Geordie Mike pointed them in the right direction. This led them to the bar that Belgoprocess had rented for the entire weekend – day and night. The owner was delighted with this financial arrangement.



James and Jamie were not far behind. James quickly learnt the words to several Belgian beer drinking songs.

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Alan discussed the finer points of Belgian beer making and became utterly, utterly pissed.

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There was still time for one last visit to McDonalds.



Having got us from the airport to Varese past the transport strike, Alan thought mini-buses would be readily available to take 10 to somewhere nice. Unfortunately only a people carrier arrived. We therefore split between those would could no longer move (Mat and Jamie), could not leave the toilet (Rob), Andy S who wanted to see Milan and those in the taxi (Geoff, Geraint, Ricard, Tom, James, Andy P, Alan).


Sesto Calende was quiet with some wholesome food.

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The Duomo di Milano and Castello Sforzesco would have to wait for another trip for most of us.

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Jamie tried his best to get arrested in the airport foyer.



James received his well-deserved Players’ Player trophy at the airport check-in.



Rob was otherwise engaged on Monday. “Cheers for the award. Just pass the Golden Boot under the door”.

Rob Mallia


Alan, Geoff, Andy P and James bumped into Matt and Rob at Cobham service for another McDonalds. Rob was heading for the toilet. They had already visited every public convenience from Gatwick. The M4 was closed so they had a slow journey back to Bath with Google maps highlighting all the service stations. Was it sun stroke, the ham sandwiches festering in the sun, dysentery from the primitive sanitation or had the Russians nobbled the star striker with a mild dose of novichok?


How did the JET campaign compare with Gareth Southgate’s England at the World Cup shortly afterwards? Good question.

We both avoided the groups of death.

We both had a youth contingent but we also brought along hardened veterans.

Our inexperienced manager proved his mettle on the international stage. Gareth wore a trend setting waist coat.

England ran out of steam against Belgium while we soundly beat them on the football pitch.

We beat top German, French and Belgium teams. England beat second tier teams.

We succumbed to the eventual winners, the Russians. England fizzled out and lost to the second placed team.

England finished 4th. We finished 3rd.

Looks like JET FC did better.


Perhaps Gareth should take note of our forthcoming JET Veteran exploits in Warsaw in June 2019 (but did not go).



The budget for the event was €445,000.

There was one broken leg.

The hosts sent a refund for not paying the last invoice to the catering service. We were not aware that there was a catering service.


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