The original War of the Roses may have taken place over 500 years ago, and sporting rivalry has replaced political animosity, but for so many people, Roses is quite simply the highlight of the year.
The competition is now in its 44th year, and yet the overall score remains neck-and-neck, with 21 wins apiece. The sole boat race that took place back in 1964 was won by York and it is fitting that this year’s event was opened with the rowing event on Sunday 27th April by Lancaster University’s Chancellor, Sir Christian Bonington.
Whether I like it or not, the outcome of this weekend will define my whole year in office. If York wins Roses 2008, we will be ahead in the overall standings for the first time since 1972. We last won an away Roses in 2002, although the last time Lancaster took the Carter-James trophy home from York in 1985, most of this year’s competitors weren’t even born.
I am so excited about Roses. May 2-4 2008 has been a date etched in the back of my mind since July last year and now it has finally arrived. I am thoroughly enjoying the fact that there is little pressure on me to win Roses 2008. Unlike my Lancastrian counterpart, James Marenghi, who when I saw him at the rowing on Sunday was a nervous wreck.
This year I am quietly confident that this year’s White Rose army can invade Lancaster and return the Carter-James trophy to York (after all, it has got my name on it!).
When the cricket kicks off on Thursday morning we will already be 12 points down, having lost the rowing 16-4 on Sunday. But with 246 points up for grabs, this deficit can soon be made up. We’ve had some strong performances in BUSA this year, and after winning Roses by 40 points last year, I am confident that the White Rose will do themselves proud this weekend.
I am hugely proud of the professionalism of the York teams –so we don’t boast the training facilities of Loughborough or enjoy the funding that Leeds Met see, but we have a hell of a lot of spirit and I am immensely proud to have the pleasure of working alongside the York teams this year.
The Roses weekend brings out enthusiasm and passion that is so often missing in elite sport, and it is a truly great sporting event to be part of.
This is the one big chance to support the other York sports, so once you’ve finished competing, make sure you get down to the sports hall, swimming pool, Astroturf or playing fields and cheer on the White Rose.
I wish the very best of luck to everyone competing; enjoy the weekend and whatever the result, be proud to be part of such a unique sporting event.