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23rd March 2017

UoM men’s football: End of season jubilation and despair

The University of Manchester Men’s team have had a successful season

Much like events across the world, the 2016/7 season has proven to be a difficult and challenging period for the Men’s Football Club. Going into the season, the club lost scores of players to graduation and the real world. It was always expected to be somewhat of a transitional year.

Despite the unavoidable struggle that this season was always going to be, the club has managed to survive it relatively unscathed. The 1s managed to pull of a miracle escape, the 3s and 4s similarly avoided relegation, whilst unfortunately in spite of an end of season gusto the 2s were relegated. This year also saw the club achieve international recognition as 1s captain and all-round nice-guy, Ash Silverman was selected for the England Universities football squad.

The 1s came into the season off the back of a heart-breaking 3rd place finish in the Northern 1A division in 2016. However, this year would not see the 1s hit the heady heights of the previous year. With a seriously depleted squad the team remained rooted to the bottom of the table for the majority of the year. The turbulent year was best exemplified by the struggle to find a starting goalkeeper, three different keepers would start for the 1s their first 5 games. Eventually, fresher, Joe Palmer would make the spot his own and perform superbly in the back half of the season.

A change of results for the 1s, however, would take until the last 45 minutes of the penultimate game of the year. The 1s began the second-half away to the University of Sheffield’s first team, mathematically relegated, losing 2-1. Nathan Frazer-Carroll squeezed home an equaliser to draw the scores level. With the game going into injury time the 1s were still going down, only for captain fantastic, Silverman, to steal a last minute winner and take the 1s to a relegation-decider against UCLan.

Following the late winner at Sheffield, the 1s were faced with a fairly simple scenario. Beat UCLan at home or face relegation to division 2 for the first time in long-serving manager, Stuart Leicester’s reign. The task was made much harder in the absence of Silverman, who was injured during his selection for the England Universities side. In front of a turn out of around 200 people, the first team delivered on a performance that merits the quality of their players.

Max Thompson and Ben Alport ran the midfield. Harry Chaldecott and Moses Seitler regularly embarrassed their fullbacks. The back four were resolute and strong. Even the crowd played their part, christening the underperforming UCLan right back “shit pings” following free kick scuffed along the surface – the fullback proceeded to have a mistake ridden game.

Though it took until the second half for club stalwart and captain for the day, Declan Ryder, to fittingly break the deadlock with precisely delivered free-kick. Frazer-Carroll then scored a sublime hat-trick. Late on freshers, Frank Charnock and Jak Alcock both scored eye catching goals – Charnock’s resembling a famous Denis Bergkamp goal.

The 1s ran out 6-0 winners and cemented their position in division 1A. Unfortunately the 2s could not replicate their achievement the following week, bravely losing 4-3 in their relegation decider.

Both the 3s and 4s survived with a bit of luck and hard graft. In particular the 4s survival is largely in debt to long-suffering 3rd year striker, Will Thom who returned to form this year after failing to register a goal the whole of last season. Something of club joke, Andrew Polydorou, also shocked the club and university at large as he put in several man of the match displays for the 4s.

Survival for the 3s on the other hand was largely due to the fact there was one team worse than them in Division 3A – thank you, Man Met Cheshire. Aside from results again Man Met the 3s struggled massively this year. Their torrid season was sealed by a 12-1 thrashing at the hands of Chester to round off a forgettable year.

As expected the 2016/17 season has proven to be a stop-gap season. Nonetheless despite its disappointments and trials this season has shown all that it great about the club.

There have been moments of astonishing football, resilience and dedication on display all year. The 1s survival will live long into club folklore.

Club Captain, Dylan Newman and manager, Stuart Leicester have done an excellent jobs steering the club through a potentially disastrous season. Hopefully next year will be as enjoyed by new and old faces as the previous three have been for me. Fumble over and out.

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