Bristol Central (BCWP) now known as City of Bristol (CoB) had a slow start but has grown into one of the leading clubs in Great Britain. In the early years, between 1937 and the 1970s, BCWP were rated as relative water polo minnows in the West Country. At this stage our 1st team only ever competed against the reserve teams of nearby "giants" Weston-Super-Mare and Cheltenham. Our path changed dramatically in 1976 when we entered the English National League in the 3rd (lowest) division. The turn around in BCWP’s ambition was mostly down to one man-Peter Sherman. After his own promising career, which included Great Britain under 20 (year old) representation was cut short by a medical condition that affected his balance, he immediately turned his passion to coaching. Peter built a team based around a punishing training regime. Despite losing many of the most talented young players to clubs that were deemed ‘bigger and better’, the team grew in confidence. Pete’s own son Jez Sherman was one of those who transferred clubs and went on to captain Great Britain for many years.
In 1986, thanks to a second wave of talented young players developed by Sherman, the team gained promotion into the 2nd division of the National League. In 1989 Bristol Central won the 2nd division and gained promotion into the top flight of British water polo for the first time. Unfortunately, as happens with many young teams, it was a step too far, too soon and the team was relegated the following year. BCWP bounced back immediately to gain promotion again in 1991. This time, ready for the challenge, BCWP managed to finish 5th in division 1.
Our improvement continued as we attracted Bristolian players back to the city. 1992 saw the return of Rhys Tamlyn, who was a GB international. In 1994 Jez Sherman returned and we attracted other younger international talent such as Jon Hutchings from Exeter. In 1995 BCWP had an outstanding season and won the National League becoming English water polo champions for the first time. Players such as John Sissons and Craig Figes (just 15 at the time) were part of the Bristol team and were regulars in the Great Britain squad. The team continued to be coached by Peter Sherman and had now become the team to beat in Great Britain. Our first English league title was followed up with British Championship titles in 1996,1997 (when we completed the domestic double winning the English league for a second time) and 1998. Peter Sherman stepped down as coach in the late 1990s but BCWP continued to develop young players into top internationals. Young talents such as Matthew Thresher, Paul Morris, Greg Harper, Daniel Williams and Andy Crawford bolstered the GB players of the 90s. These players helped to keep the club at the top of British water polo throughout the 2000s and gain individual international honours. BCWP had the honour of representing Bristol and GB in several European club competitions throughout the years.
With our most recent British titles in 2011 and 2013 and through our continuing work with local swimming clubs and schools, we are building upon the legacy of the London Olympics at which BCWP player Craig Figes was Captain of Team GB, Many of our former international players are heavily involved with coaching as we strive to continue our proud history and build an even brighter future.