Whilst the Nouse sports team were sitting in V-bar on Thursday, ready to record the Sports Podcast and chatting generally about the college cup, we began to discuss how entertaining a tournament it had actually been so far. And we concluded, despite obvious commitment from every college, a flurry of goals and some outstanding team and individual displays, that the one thing the tournament had lacked so far was a big shock. Yesterday we got it.
For those of you that haven’t already read Jake’s report, Vanbrugh firsts beat Halifax firsts 3-0 yesterday afternoon. It ranks up there alongside the USA’s famous victory over England in 1950, Rossi-inspired Italy beating the great Brazil side of ’82 and West Germany’s win over the Dutch ‘Total Football’ side in the 1974 World Cup final as one of those historic moments when a team at the top of their game, and in the form of their lives, has been brutally brought back down to earth.
Except it really doesn’t. This isn’t a huge ‘cupset’ at all, but merely a message to those that were far too quick to write off a Vanbrugh team known for their resilience and never-say-die attitude. Us Nousers did it as well, foolishly giving them odds of 15/1 to win in our edition last week (although I must add that I predicted a shock result in yesterday’s game during the aforementioned podcast). In their opening two performances they have shown pretty comprehensively that they are contenders, perhaps even one of the favourites, and are able to play some devastatingly slick football. Two games, ten goals, none conceded and a comfortable victory against a team that some were worrying would walk the tournament. Not a bad start really.
Today’s star was Phil Taylor, but notable mentions should also go to Ali Prince (who has been outstanding in both of their games) Dan Hewitt and, well, the whole team. Vanbrugh might not contain the biggest set of campus-football BNOCs, but their goal-fest against Goodricke thirds showed that, like Halifax, James and Alcuin, this team have scoring potential in every position. Last year they were written off early after losing to lowly Goodricke seconds but beat tournament favourites Derwent to qualify for the knock-out stages and, despite continued criticism from part-time Nouse correspondent Dreamz Murphy , made it all the way to the final with a cup-run built on scrappy determination and a back-to-basics long-ball game. This year, early indications show that they might just play the most attractive football in the cup.
As for Halifax, well they’ve been labelled as flat-track bullies all year and yesterday they didn’t really go any way to proving their doubters wrong. They will hope that they are not this year’s Derwent firsts (although that might again be Derwent firsts) and haven’t peaked a wee bit early. There’s still a long way to go, and Mark Lund will be happy that this has happened now rather than in the semis, but the message is clear – Halifax firsts are very beatable.
Vanbrugh, not fancied by many to do well this tournament after an average year so far, announced themselves as real contenders yesterday with a 3-0 win over tournament favourites Halifax. Photograph by George Lowther.
It all basically means that we don’t have a bloody clue who will win this tournament. I reckon there are at least six teams who will fancy their chances after this week’s games, and you could perhaps even make a case for seven. Langwith attract a lot of laughter for their dip in recent years, but they certainly had the last chuckle against Goodricke seconds on Thursday, positioning themselves nicely to qualify for the next round. Despite not enjoying that much possession, the partnership of Starkey and Sloan (the new SAS) will quickly punish defensive lapses – Goodricke took their foot off the gas for only ten minutes at the beginning of the second half and conceded two goals as a result. OK, so they probably won’t win the whole thing, but any other firsts team that underestimates them in the quarters might find that, come the end of the sixty, they are leaving the JLD sheepishly for the last time.
And a quick word on fantasy football. The lack of a clear favourite in this tournament is going to make the transfer window – where you get one chance to pick a team designed to get you points for the whole knock-out stages – very interesting indeed. The users currently at the top might find that they drop like a stone if their sneaky guesses for likely finalists are proved wrong. One player I bet you all wished you picked for this round is Dave Worsley (or is it White?) who unfortunately is likely to not be around in the knock-out stages but has undoubtedly been the tournament’s best value buy so far – he’s scored four goals and only Mark Johnson has a better points haul. Special credit to Max Walter as well, whose 13 points are a very good total for a thirds player valued at only £2.6 million.
Tune in next week, where we’ll be looking at those poor-valued players who have failed to rack up the points. Play well guys, you wouldn’t want your name to be there, would you?