After months of prep, countless hours of repairing guns and gathering equipment, and taking up running to try and survive the weekend intact, the 2019 edition of Stirling Airsoft’s England vs Scotland game has finished and as the dust settles on another epic battle, it’s time to sit back, reflect on how it unfolded, and get a report done.
I’ve been involved with this event for a few years now and for a lot of us on the England team, it’s the focal point of the year, for which all the other events and game days lead up to. Every skirmish becomes a mere test of kit ready for EvS. Every trip away, a chance to get with the team and get some practice in so we don’t screw it up on the big stage. I’ve heard it described as a religion to some. And so, the first weekend that touches into December each year, we head to Catterick Garrison, a sprawling military base in the North of England, usually in horrendous weather conditions, to go and show what we’ve got in this most competitive of airsoft weekenders.
Our Gun lockers
Luxury accommodation. This year, I even managed to score for a bed, although less impressed that there was only a foot of headroom. I use a Snugpak TSB sleeping bag for events like this.
This is a big one too. After being behind for years, until a recent upturn in form (not saying having 25-30 Norvern Monkeys on your team is a factor, but…), the scores are England 5-6 Scotland.
One more win puts England back on level terms. No pressure.
Now, what I’ve said might look like blowing this event completely out of proportion, but it really is something else in terms of the skill level, the stamina needed to run all weekend, and the teamwork required to come out on top. Quite simply, you’ve got to be at the top of your game from start to finish, and you’ve got to have the loadout that allows you to do it. This is no skirmish, but it’s not a milsim either. It’s fast paced and all action, day and night.
Norvern Monkeys Paw and Bubba getting everything ready on the Friday night, with Bubba’s monstrous GPMG support weapon, which was to be a crucial part of the Monkey’s defences.
Whinny Hill FIBUA complex, Catterick Garrison.
Our site map. Mine is slightly cut down to fit into a Warrior tactical arm panel. Had to memorise the other bits…
Here’s a pic of part of the objectives list on the back of the map. Monkeys taskings are underlined, inbetween our taskings, we were on hand to provide support to other England elements with theirs.
The numbers marked were the taskings assigned to our callsign, 5-1, which was largely made up of the Norvern Monkeys. The main aim of the game is to take and hold the buildings listed, so that on the hour specified a marshal would enter the building and search it. If it was held completely by English players, ten points to England. If there was at least one Scottish player in the building, it was considered “contested” and five points are awarded to each side. It means that you’re in a constant cycle of fighting your to a building, often then fighting your way through a building, clearing and securing it, then setting up a perimeter to try and hold it as the enemy team hits your location hard to try and take it back. The minutes just before the hour are usually frantic, praying that your perimeter will hold and that you can fend off attacks from both sides until the marshal scores it. As soon as those points are secured, it’s then a rush to move everyone up to the next hour’s objective, and the cycle begins again. This relentless approach to hitting objectives means that you have to come into this game ready to give it your all, with little chance of a break or any downtime, though we managed to squeeze an odd ten minutes here and there to take on food and water, but as soon as rations were down your neck it was gun up and run to the next tasking. It’s not the sort of game for those who like casually strolling around at skirmish, expecting the team to carry dead weight. You really have to put a shift in.
Myself, looking totally lost without a ghillie. I’m not great at this sort of stuff, but I’m learning. The Condor chest rig is a really flexible and lightweight kit option, especially for urban areas, without the bulk of a plate carrier.
Our half of the England team was tasked with the south side of the village. Upon game on, its a race to the middle of the town against the enemy, trying to hold as much ground as possible on the way. Invariably we meet half way, buildings 21/23 in the centre of the town are the target (though not the objective). First to throw themselves through the windows and secure these buildings gains the territorial advantage early on, providing a platform to establish control in the centre of the map.
“You guys go in first, we’ll follow right behind you” – England command to Monkeys 1IC Scott “Sluttydog” Connal. Typical, and set the tone for the weekend. We don’t mind doing the hard work though while they pose for photos…
The south side of town is a lot more open however, and while trying to push up the road to the target buildings, we quickly found ourselves under heavy fire (I’m sure Scotland must start before we do) and were cut to pieces before we could make any progress. With a few of the team’s weapons suffering issues in the cold, the opening hours were largely spent on emergency repairs and trying to push through the open area into cover. As a team, we’d largely had very little practice in advance of this event and I don’t think many guys would disagree that we were looking a bit rusty, although the one characteristic we do have is a never-say-die attitude regardless of how the event is going. It was surprising to learn by lunchtime – not that there was time for one – England were 40-10 up, largely thanks to the efforts of our friends from Reivers and North West Mercs airsoft teams, with whom we provide the bulk of the England team.
Monkeys Ronan, Albie and Bubba. Albie studies his pouches in great detail before adding any to his rig. He’s very meticulous in his kit selection.
Things started to click for us shortly after that, as the Monkeys started to find their feet and settle into a rythm. Guns started behaving, we started hitting buildings in force and got our discipline together. Along for the weekend was Sniperworks’ Jordan Tedham, who positioned himself in a first floor window with his VSR and an M4 for protection and started radioing in every Scotland movement in our area – once you’ve got that kind of information coming in it makes everything much easier and he deserves a special mention. Despite getting in on very little action, Jordan remained in position for hours throughout the Saturday afternoon, watching over our teams on the ground, directing fire, helping coordinate defences and soon the tables started to turn. Up front, we were breaching and securing buildings and the resources available meant we could quickly bring up the rest of the team, including support weapons, and set up perimeters to protect the objective. Not the most exciting of jobs at times but we held firm and that got us points secured.
Foreground – Ronan getting his night vision on.
Background – errr, Aaron.
Darkness fell quickly, and although we had a handful of night vision devices available, the key during the night is noise and light discipline, and careful footing, with ice forming as temperatures dropped to minus five. It’s a case of moving silently through the shadows, which plays to the snipers among us, but generally the action seemed to slow down a bit as players on both sides started to struggle with fatigue, hunger, and a will to go to bed. Thankfully those of us with the strength to keep going, kept going. England’s lead grew to 95-20 at 7pm and some players were starting to wonder if it Scotland could mathematically catch up.
Ranger. Always cool, calm and collected, enjoying being cold instead. In the background, our little section of the regen where we resupply from. Bottom left, the Boss’s chair, where all the important decisions are made.
It’s like any airsoft game though. If you’re ahead, never stop and think that you can ease off because things can turn around quickly and if you starting losing, sometimes it’s difficult to get back on the front foot. If you’re ahead, keep going and keep pushing for the win even if you already have it. Be relentless in your approach. Even a few bodies down as the night wore on, the Monkeys kept pushing it right until the end of the night, although I must hold my hand up and admit that I had to stop 20 mins before the end and I apologise publicly to my teammates for not physically being able to carry on.
Bubba on the GPMG keeping watch. He collects lots of camo.
My M7A1 at dawn. Usually, I would be holding it.
Painkillers and deep heat ushered in a short sleep before getting up in the dark to get back into kit, grab a quick breakfast and get back out there. It was still cold, most players were stiff and sore, but on Sunday battle recommenced and we were back into the thick of it, clearing, securing and scoring. Scotland’s attacks seemed much weaker, and rarer; I don’t know if they lost a lot of disillusioned players overnight but hats off to the ones that never gave up. And that’s the key to being a success at this event. Determination. It doesn’t matter how much your kit cost, how many grenades you carry, or how operator you think you are. You have to keep working hard.
Final Score – England 150-50 Scotland
Monkeys with the trophy afterwards on top of a Chieftain tank. Thoroughly deserved.
Trophy retained, the series is level at 6 wins each. Prep is already underway for next year, where we hope to come back even better equipped to try and put England ahead in the series. For a skirmish level team as opposed to a die hard milsim outfit, we know where we need to improve and it’s going to be an interesting year ahead getting to where we want to be.
For more media, check out the North West Mercs on Instagram here.