Futsal to Fly the Flag for York at National BUCS Championships

By flinging himself off a Cretan mountain all those years ago, Icarus tried to escape exile from Greece; to strive beyond mediocrity, to achieve what men thought impossible. York’s Futsal team did a similar thing last Sunday. With their qualification to the BUCS Championships in Sheffield next month, they are soaring towards a goal many would have written off as a demented fantasy at the start of the year. Say it quietly: York are the best Futsal team in the north of England. At this university we are used only to occasional beacons of success.

Even then, no Everests are conquered, only Ben Nevises; there are no Usain Bolts, only Frankie Frederickses; no Raymond van Barnevelds, only Vincent van der Voorts. The success of the Futsal team suggests that where there once was no hope, there is now. From their four games this Sunday, the futsallers needed six points. Sounds easy on paper, but the nature of the competition meant that this was to be a formidable undertaking. Arch-rivals Teeside, a team they have never defeated, and serial table-toppers Stirling stood in the way. The ghosts of failed campaigns in previous years weighed heavily on the players’ shoulders, and when it comes to qualification, the Futsal team has had more near-misses than a cross-eyed pilot. This was their biggest chance to put right past wrongs.

The operation started as planned with a 6-3 dissection of Durham. Bling-coated gangsta rapper-cum-goalgetter, Anton Murphy, was sensational in a kind of pivot role, masterfully holding up play with his back to goal. Murphy is the leading goalscorer in the north of England, bagging a perfect ten goals. He was ebullient about his achievement, saying: “it makes me believe what people don’t believe” and “I feel like throwing a champagne glass in the air.”

Whilst Murphy stood out, the rest of the York team did well to stand up to the opposition’s physicality, evidenced in the mangled knees of Dan Hyde and the contorted wreck that is Jack Crane’s shin. Despite his roughhousing, Crane went on to grab a brace in this game, providing momentum for the rest of the tournament.Stirling, living up to their name, marched into a 3-1 lead with two lucky goals. But York showed incredible character mounting a sensational comeback, led by captain James Grey’s two goals, to pull things back to 3-3. Then, with a few minutes remaining, Dan Hyde slipped by two Stirling defenders before elegantly pirouetting and smashing a stonker into the roof of the net. If York could hold on, they would qualify. But then: disaster. A calamity at the back allowed a Stirling equaliser. York would have to beat Teeside in the next round.

And cometh the hour, cometh the men. It was crunch time. A time for boys to become men. A time for those men to then stand up and be counted. And that they did, in what some have described as the team’s greatest ever performance. Utterly decimating Teeside spiritually and in a football sense, York walked away 8-2 victors, with a stunning goal from Henney putting delicious icing on the victory cake. All that remained was the formality of a dead rubber (loss) to Leeds Met in the final game. But York didn’t care. They achieved a feat approaching the magnitude of North Korea’s victory over Italy in 1966. Unlike the Korean players, who were shot on return to their native land for failing to defeat Portugal, the futsallers will be lauded on campus for months to come.


  1. Futsal is not a real sport. It’s a poor man’s football. Fact.

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  2. Sorry I should add fair play on getting to the finals… but considering 4 out of the 7 teams who entered got through, it’s not that amazing is it and to name York ‘the best futsal team in the north of England’ is a load of cr*p. First of all a Scottish team were competing, and what about all the the non-uni teams that would breeze past York.

    Sorry to rain on your parade but this is hyped up codswallop.

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  3. Football Fan, you have every right to sound very bitter over something, but at least get your house in order.

    What constitutes a real sport? You can throw that accusation at many of the BUCS sports represented – Ten Pin Bowling, Gaelic Football and Pool are all included in the BUCS finals calender. Futsal requires equal amounts of fitness as any other physical sport such as Football or Rugby, with the skill levels needing to be higher in Futsal than Football. Many footballers cannot adapt to a Futsal pitch, which makes you wonder how much skill a lot of these supposed ‘Footballers’ have – Futsallers are surely set apart.

    Also if this was any mainstream sport at York, something like Rugby, Tennis or Volleyball then you would be shouting from the rooftops that they were going to the national finals – the fact of the matter remains that very few of Yorks teams get that far, so we should applauding the team as opposed to trying out best to cut them down.


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  4. 11 Feb ’09 at 9:34 am

    Jonny McWilliams

    Football Fan, I have played both university football and futsal 1sts for the last three years and you are very harsh in saying that futsal is “not a real sport”. Both football and futsal are separate entities, and if futsal is a ‘poor man’s football’ then I suppose I am a poor player fortunate to be in the football 1st team (probably true though…).

    To be fair, I am not sure any of our team would claim to be the best futsal team in the North – I have played against non-university teams in the Futsal Premier League such as Sheffield Stormers who deserve that status – but in the context of BUCS futsal in the North we did finish top of a competitive league, so that is an achievement of note. Not sure what a Scottish team competing has to do with anything either, as Stirling are a good sporting university who have a strong futsal team.

    If you want to come down to the futsal club session on Friday morning (in the tent at 10.30am) I am sure our captain/president James Grey would happily expand on how futsal is actually a real sport, and you can try it out for yourself.

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  5. Football Fan,

    Firstly, that York are currently the ‘best futsal team in the north of England’ is pretty much an indisputable fact, seeing as the team finished top of the Northern section of qualifiers for the National Championships, and by inference we are talking about university sport. I’m sure you will appreciate that, for example, Greece weren’t necessarily the ‘best’ team in Europe in 2004, but they did go on to win the European Championship ahead of teams with superstar names and packed with talent. The analogy fits well here. I play in this futsal team and I’ll be the first to admit that we would not dream of claiming to be better than Sheffield and other power-houses, as Jonny says, but the honour is only titular and for that reason it stands.

    Secondly, to address your ‘real sport’ accusation, I would suggest that either you haven’t played futsal, or football for that matter (don’t you just love ‘fans’ who don’t know their foot from their arse?), or you are in fact quite dillusional. Ask Ronaldinho if he thinks its a real sport. Or Zidane, or Robinho whether they thought it was sport they were playing all those years ago. Hell, ask any footballer what they think of Falcao and the things he can do with a ball. Or the professional futsal players in Holland or Brazil whether they think what they are doing constitutes a valid sport or valid job. I think you’ll find you are gravely mistaken.

    Finally, as for ‘hyped up’, I take entire responsibility for the presentation and editorial content of this article and its position in the paper. Let me make this easy for you:

    The University of York Futsal team is our ONLY team to be going to the Channel 4 televised BUCS Championships in Sheffield.

    That’s right, it is a SUCCESS story. I know that might be hard for you to get your head around as it doesn’t happen very often at York, but try to be positive, eh? For that reason it hits the back page and deserves the build-up it gets.

    You are always welcome at sessions Tuesday, Friday (10.30-12.30) and Saturday (2-4). Honestly, we play for the love of the game that really is something to get excited about.


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  6. 11 Feb ’09 at 3:34 pm

    Myles Preston

    Although this isn’t exactly the most ‘serious’ article, this shouldnt deride what York have achieved, it an is excellent effort from the team. However, aside from the success York have had in BUSC, it is ironic that you state that it is a ‘poor man’s football’ as in previous years the futsal club have played against teams like Sheffield Stormers (as mentioned by McWilliams), which allows York’s futsallers to play against high-level semi-professional footballers who use Futsal as a means to improve their technique and fitness. Nothing against the university football club of which I was also a member of, but this fact that I have just illustrated conveys how the Futsal club has, at points, played against a level of footballers as high or if not higher than the university football 1st team.

    Now, I am not saying that the futsal club is ‘better’ than the football club or anything petty like that, but to say that futsal is a ‘poor man’s football’ is a farcical thing to say, especially in context of the state of futsal at York University.

    Well done to James Grey and his men.

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