Doxbridge 2009 - a Captain's tale

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The week after the Epiphany term ended, Matt Glover was entrusted with "the more than pleasurable task" of leading the Society's Men’s Football Club into battle against other Durham Colleges and some of those other Colleges from the lesser well known Oxbridge, as Cuth's headed on tour to Dublin to compete in the Doxbridge Tournament 2009. Here he reminisces about the tour.

 

The Club’s A team had recently been promoted to the top division of Collegiate football, by storming to the Division One title, remaining unbeaten in the promotion pool. The team taken to Dublin was not however our high flying 1st team, but a true tour team. We were a “motley crew” as one of the team remarked during our time in Ireland. We may have lacked some of the better footballers in Cuth’s, but we certainly did not lack any of the passion or commitment.

 

Day one tour started on a dreary Monday morning in Durham and was filled with a coach journey to Holyhead and connecting ferry into Dublin. There was plenty of time for team bonding before we even got anywhere near a football pitch, the most unusual perhaps at the blackjack table on the ferry. None of the team made a penny.

 

Day two brought the first football action on the pristine pitches where the tournament was played a short 25 minutes outside of Dublin City centre. The first team talk focused on our solid defence, led by the ever present 1st team centre back, Charlie Moss. We were going to hold tight and try and nick the goals that would see us progress to the latter stages. Game one saw us take on Lady Margaret Hall from Oxford and it was mission accomplished. A close fought encounter in which Cuth’s used the ball a little more prudently, ended in a late goal, from a well played cross into the box which the oncoming goalkeeper was beaten to: 1-0 to Cuthbert’s. In the second game of the group stage, Cuth’s again came out 1-0 victors over a Snow B team that could have posed threats, with their strong Centre Forwards. Glenn Holmwood, the hard working Cuth’s Striker slotted the ball home from inside the 18 yard box, after Snow were unable to clear their lines properly from a corner. The last game of day one ended less favourably than the others as Cuth’s were beaten 2-0 by George Stephenson A. Closer than the score line suggests, a speculative effort form just inside the Cuth’s half undid the fill-in Cuth’s goalkeeper Ewan Macleod for the winner. We headed out to Temple Bar that evening to sample the delights of Dublin nightlife, happy with our days work.

 

It would be fair to say that were we Premierships footballers, all of us would have had wages docked on the morning of day three as we headed to play three more important fixtures. Some of the team were feeling it more than others but all managed to make it to line up for the first game against a team well known to ourselves. It was an encounter to be savoured by all involved as the mighty Cuth’s took on Hatfield B’s, a crucial game for deciding who progressed and importantly what the draw in the Quarter- finals might be. The Cuth’s defence was back to its old ways, with James Griffin offering strong challenges in the centre and Sam Coote and Nick Wright ably assisted at wing backs. Sam would later receive the accolade of “Player of the Tour” for his consistent performances throughout the tournament. Going forward, Jack Makintyre was an ever threat on the right wing, linking up nicely with the men in the middle, Doug Gilmour and myself. However, Hatfield were able to hold their own and stave off the Cuth’s attacks to end a competitive game 0-0. A demolition of Jesus College Oxford the following fixture, 5-1, ensured a smooth progression into the Quarter finals. The game ended bizarrely in a small game of Rugby rules, the Jesus lads not taking the tournament quite as seriously as some others! Not to be outdone, once the game was firmly won, the Jesus “football team” were treated to a small display of skills, notably a crunching, knock- on inducing tackle by the 6ft 4 James Griffin. The group stages concluded with a 3-0 defeat at the hands of St Aidan’s, who before the tournament started would not have been a bad tip to take the trophy home. A tiring Cuth’s team struggled to cope with the classy Aidan’s midfield and were already safe in the knowledge that passage to the latter stages had been secured. It was seen as only fit we should celebrate our progression and that evening we headed again into town, clad in suits, to enjoy another night of revelry, as the Doxbridge fun continued. 

 

Quarter final day had been our aim since we arrived in Dublin. We did not want to go the Zoo as it had been heard other knocked out teams were planning on doing. We were here to have a good time, but also to play some good football. The loss against St Aidan’s and George Stephenson, combined with the other results Hatfield had achieved gave Cuth’s a hard draw against John Snow A. The game was highly competitive and both sides had chances, but ultimately sloppy defending cost us dearly. A 2-0 defeat was the outcome, but losing to the eventual winners would give the downbeat Cuthbertsmen some solace. I would later manage to drink out of the trophy by nicely asking the John Snow Captain whilst in a nightclub. I didn’t get to raise it in victory, but at least I briefly got my hands on the trophy.

 

There is one man who has so far remained out of the action, young Will Peterson (Social member 08-present). He played his first game in Cuthbert’s green during the tour, which precisely highlights the eclectic mix of talents we took out. His contribution on the pitch was greatly appreciated by all and his off-field contribution wasnt half bad either. I think that all those who headed out to Dublin will never forget the 5 days we spent together, the laughs we had and the success on and off the pitch. This was my third Doxbridge, but possibly my favourite. With no disrespect to the lads, I’m sure they’ll agree we did rather better than we might have expected. I’m proud to have been out there with the guys and hope they continue to take teams out for years to come.

 

Matt Glover

St Cuthbert’s Society Football Club, Doxbridge Tour Captain 2009