Forget London 2012. The highlight of sporting excellence this year has already been and gone as the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester fought to knock Leeds off its perch in the ultimate battle of the north: The Christie Cup. This year it was Liverpool’s turn to host the oldest inter-university competition after the Oxbridge boat race, and over 1500 eager students descended upon the City of Scouse for what would be a day of champagne performances across the board.
The day didn’t exactly get off to an ideal start – the weather clearly didn’t get the memo that Christie day is traditionally blessed with glorious sunshine – and so wetter than a sock in a puddle but not to be deterred, coach loads of Manchester’s finest athletes made the journey down the M62 to reclaim the prize that we all know is rightfully ours. Manchester has won this tremendous accolade more times than either of the other universities since the competition was founded in the 1880s, and so after our shock defeat in 2011, we were hungrier than ever for success. With exams looming in the not-so-distant future, the day is notoriously one of laughs and debaunchery, but following stern words of warning from the feisty Athletic Union Chair, we knew we all had to get our heads in the game.
Amongst the first up were women’s hockey, and with Manchester undefeated all season and promoted to the Premiership, we were pretty confident it was in the bag. The competition was fierce, particularly from newly-relegated Leeds. However it was not enough to stop both Manchester teams from being crowned outright winners. Some might say that the men were even cockier, sporting little more than an attractive set of purple wife-beaters in the icy cold and rain, yet they too emerged champions. The tone was then set for the rest of the day and team after team, Manchester upped their game and clocked up the points.
Those not lucky enough to compete on the artificial pitches were in for a real treat, and men’s football thought up many a new goal celebration which involved sliding around in the mud-bath that the pitches had all become. The colour of both our men’s and women’s rugby kits were similar evidence of the amount of celebrating Manchester had earned, with the only remaining traces of purple to be found in the war-stripes painted on our faces! Both lacrosse teams retained their respective undefeated titles, and when team members are subsequently found asleep during their victory night out, you can’t deny that they must have played hard!
One team that certainly wasn’t bothered by the April showers was the swimming squad, who capped off a great BUCS season with another clean sweep of wins for Manchester. By the midway point of the competition, we were feeling quietly confident that the prestigious Christie Cup would be coming back home with us. Obviously that would never have been good enough for us, and when we win, we like to win by a country mile. After some words of encouragement from our wonderful AU Chair had been bellowed down a shiny new megaphone (saved only for occasions such as this), our remaining athletes kicked, smashed, shot, and ran to countless more victories across the entire spectrum of sports.
Then we played the waiting game. We had tried harder than ever but anything could have happened in those final few fixtures. While every point was being counted up and checked, our freezing, exhausted competitors had found renewed vigour in the thought of their traditional ‘Purple and Proud’ fancy dress costumes for the presentation ceremony. Team by team we filed into the main sports hall dressed as Barney the Dinosaur, purple Avatars, and everything in between, in order to find out whether we had done ourselves proud or whether it had all been in vain. As the individual successes were read out we sensed a pattern emerging, and if the overall victory wasn’t ours then something must definitely have gone wrong. Liverpool must have known they were out of the title race as they slowly started sidling off like part-time supporters at a football match. Nevertheless, Leeds still had high hopes and didn’t seem to fancy the prospect of handing over the cup after just one measly season. The big moment arrived. There was an eerie hush in the room and the tension was thick. Eventually it was announced that Manchester had regained its title as Christie Cup Champion and some even say the cheers were so loud they could be heard all down Oxford Road. Roaring with excitement, we all piled back on to our coaches – medals swinging all over the place – and had a night we’ll never remember to celebrate the day we’ll never forget.
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