It is the start of a new university year which means university sport is back! Football is one to watch as the latest season gets underway. However, things are a little different this year.
The university team will continue to play their Wednesday fixtures but will now play every Saturday as well. This is all thanks to an exciting new project conducted by head coach, Jack Norbury. I spoke to Jack about exactly what he has in store for this season.
This year Jack has merged his Govan Athletic squad with the men’s university team. Govan Athletic, named after the birthplace of Sir Alex Ferguson, formed in 2001. They have two teams in the Manchester Football League, and one in the Lancashire and Cheshire League.
From combining these two teams, an impressive project is unfolding. The utilisation of the university’s resources, in combination with the knowledge from Govan Athletic players and staff, creates an in-depth squad of players in their 30s as well as university students.
Not only does this lead to busy training sessions with up to 50 players, but it also serves as an opportunity for different generations of footballers to play together. Jack discussed how this allowed players to learn from each other. So far this team has played eight and won eight. Jack stated, “winning isn’t everything but it is a good sign”.
However, it is vital to note that this new journey the university team is embarking on needs support from students. Keep an eye out for home fixtures via the club’s Instagram, and go along to show your support! There is also a brand new pitch at the Armitage, where you can go and enjoy playing yourself. The work Jack is doing this year should not go unnoticed. This project has taken time, effort and plenty of organising! Yet despite all of this, Jack has loved the process so far. “I couldn’t imagine a better job,” he told me.
So why should you go to watch the men’s university football team this year? Jack discussed his commitment to a possession-based “no fear football” style of play, purposely used to keep spectators entertained.
Jack’s dedication to creating a well-trained, well-drilled team deserves plenty of student support. Of course, the team is pushing for promotion, league cups and titles. They are just one promotion away from the United Counties League Premier Division North. Nevertheless, Jack stated that the development of players at the club is an equal priority.
When asked about his favourite moments as a coach, he discussed the Old Boys dinner which happens every year. This is when former players from the University of Manchester football team, some from over 25 years ago, come together with current players for an evening. This night provides a feeling that what Jack is doing at the club is part of something bigger, as different generations of university footballers are able to come together. It also shows everyone currently involved that they will always have a connection to the UoM Football club.
Are you interested in getting involved with football here in Manchester? Jack talked about how being a player is not the only way to be a part of this newly formed team. Interest in coaching? Photography? Social media? Just contact the club and express your interest. There are plenty of opportunities for all students to be involved.
Jack has now laid out his ambitious plans as the university team joins forces with Govan Athletic. A truly exciting time for Manchester university football. It is now time for students to get down to the Armitage and show their support!