Sports Editor Will Kelly turns footballer this weekend, as he puts on his shin pads and football boots to play for History FC. I asked him a few questions about his time at History FC.
Run us through the season, Will…
Well, first game of the season we played Econ, who we are challenging for the Division two title now. We lost 1-0, which is annoying and it’s the only game we have lost this season. We went on a winning run and Captain Dan Bunter’s philosophy of playing three at the back has done wonders for this season. We drew 1-1 to Business School in atrocious conditions, which meant we really had to beat Econ to stay in with a chance of the title. We won 3-1 and have won all our games ever since. We are just two points behind Econ and so hopefully they will slip up.
We had a good run in the Roy Little Cup (FA Cup) and we were one game away from the Quarter Final. We played Chemical Engineering who are top of the league above so we knew it would be a tough game. We lost 2-1 and I was pretty gutted because we were missing quite a few players and it was a very even match. Had we had everyone available, we could have won.
Nevertheless, The Road to Armitage dream is very much on as History FC are into the Semi-Final of the Alan Mainwaring shield after convincingly beating NHSF (Hindu Society) 6-0. Our long suffering supporter ‘the Prof’ (Dr Robert Davies, retired history professor) has stuck with us through thick and thin. He has seen us get relegated in my first year at university, and has watched us in the past to some miserable battles of mid-table mediocrity. No other team has such a devoted supporter as ours (or even a supporter). He has kindly brought us oranges at half time and even offered a lift for our players after the match. We are doing this for him.
Who’s brought their A-game this season and performed especially well?
Everyone deserves a mention really because they are all a terrific bunch of lads who love playing football and I think the biggest strength of this team is that they play for each other. Henry Scanlan and Joel Standerwick have that Andy Cole/Dwight Yorke partnership and have been lethal this season scoring 32 goals between them. Joel is on 17 whilst Henry is on 15 so there is a bit of rivalry between them, which is great. Tom Russell has worked so well in behind them. He just puts his head down and takes the ball forward and he has scored some important goals this season, especially in the recent 1-0 win against Business School.
Credit to Dan Bunter, who suffered a nasty dislocated ankle at the end of last season. He worked hard to get his fitness back and he has simply been tremendous in midfield and has been an excellent leader. Same goes to Pat Harvey, who also suffered a nasty injury last season, and has been excellent at centre back. Tom Glover is like the Ander Herrera in the team, he is just here, there and everywhere. He puts in some big tackles and controls the tempo of the game superbly. Scott Doherty, who plays at left back, floats over the ground like a cocker spaniel chasing a piece of silver paper in the wind and is always a danger in attack. Ollie Brown is a workhorse at right wing back, I hope university doesn’t destroy his fitness because he really can bomb up and down that wing.
What’s been your favourite match?
I think the Quarter Final against NHSF (Hindu Society) was our best performance of the season. From kick off we pressed them high and they just couldn’t cope. We won 6-0 and I managed to score 2, not bad for a centre back! But of course at the end of the day, it’s all about the team and getting us into the semi-finals.
Also the 3-1 win against Econ, as that was a must win for us. From the warm up, everyone knew what was at stake and we were fired up for it. The magnitude of the event can be summed up by the fact Captain Dan Bunter led us in the warm up with some shuttle runs, very professional indeed. It was a dramatic game for myself; I scored a penalty to make it 2-0 on the stroke of half time and then gave away a penalty in the second half. I say give away, it was a complete dive but thankfully he missed. Then there striker was getting lippy at one of our players so I started giving some right back at him. We were waiting for a free kick and he swung around and assaulted me with an elbow. I was a rugby player at school and I don’t always think in the lens of football so I threw him to the floor. I picked up a yellow card. I know I shouldn’t have done it but I wasn’t just going to roll around the floor like a dying Swan in order to grab the referee’s attention.
We’ve heard that you are the fiercest man in Division 2 football! Is it true that you started on your own goalkeeper?
[Laughs] I wouldn’t say I’m fierce, I am passionate about playing but I am not starting fights here, there and everywhere. I like to tackle but I like a fair game too. No nonsense you might say! I did push our goalkeeper [Josh] once, yeah. I had the ball 25 yards out from goal and was put under pressure. I went to pass but my foot just got stuck in a divet and the opposition broke. Josh made a great save and I headed it off the line for the corner. It wasn’t the right time for Josh to swear in my face. Had it been three seconds after it’s fair enough but I had lost the ball some way from goal and had sprinted like a madman to get back and stop my error from being costly. I knew what I had done and I was already pretty pumped so it was just the wrong time and I over-reacted. But anyway, he’s my housemate so we are all good there and he’s passionate about his football too, which is great. As a defensive unit I think we have been solid, keeping several clean sheets this season.
Do the History Department actively support the team and sporting endeavours?
Absolutely not, and it’s nothing short of a disgrace. I remember in my first year I had to pay a contribution to get our team kits, as we were simply just playing in hi-vis bibs. They provide us with no funding or help at all, and the same applies to the history netball team. Registration is all paid by the captains, and last year the Netball captain had to pay £300 of her own money to set up two teams, there wasn’t even an option of borrowing funds and paying the money back once everyone had registered. I understand that societies are budgeted but no priority is given to Sport when it’s a great community within history. They can’t say that the sport teams are not popular because so many turned up to the football trials that we had to leave loads of people disappointed that they couldn’t play. We could easily have a second history team, and the netball team introduced one due to its popularity but this is always going to be difficult when the department won’t set out funds to help with registration.
Having spoken to other societies such as computer science, I have learnt that they pay for kits and help with funding for the team. The sport teams shouldn’t be about whatever is left in the budget, it’s clearly already a great thing and they should be actively helping it go from strength to strength. Otherwise, these teams could easily disappear as it costs a lot of money to register and match fees build over time.
How has campus sport been useful for you in your time at university?
It creates a great community playing for a team and it’s one of the happiest memories I’ll have of being at this university. You make great friends and the socials have always been a lot of fun. Moreover, it’s something you always look to in the week and I suppose it’s a great relief from working.
Whilst we are here, how have you enjoyed your time as Sports editor at The Mancunion, and what has been your highlight?
Again it’s another memory I will cherish. It might get stressful on a Friday (deadlines) and I might always miss lunch on that day but I have really enjoyed it. We have had the most wonderful contributors who are passionate about their sport and talking to the university sport teams, I have learnt so much of sports that I did not know about. Anyone who has a passion for sport should try writing and The Mancunion gave me that opportunity to express myself.