2009 – 2010
Men’s Association Football
Officers: Captain Alex Hardman
The 2009/2010 season was one of great success as the first XI ended the season at the head of the league table, beating the Cuppers winners Lincoln to a hotly contested Division II title. An exciting run of fixtures saw the outcome of the league title remain undecided until the final game of the season, culminating in Queen’s needing a convincing victory against bottom of the table Hertford to steal the league/cup double away from Lincoln on goal difference. The remarkable feats of the season are amplified when it is considered that the team had finished at the foot of the table the previous year.
This year saw a change of captain as the spirited Alex Hardman sought to replace the talismanic figure of Alfred Enoch. Alex worked tirelessly throughout freshers’ week in an enthusiastic attempt to gather as much talent from the incoming students as possible and thankfully his endeavour paid off. A pre-season friendly against an established St Catherine’s side resulted in an unexpected victory with many positive performances from fresh talent. Could this be the start of the revolution for Queen’s?
The first match of the season was blessed by idyllic conditions, with a freshly cut, pristine playing surface and glorious sunshine overhead. There were no excuses to be made and thankfully there was no need. Queen’s dominated throughout, looking hungry for goals in attack and posing continual problems to the Trinity defence. New boy Tom Castro dazzled defenders with his lightning-quick feet and bundle of tricks and was rewarded with a brilliant goal just before half time. The Queen’s defence looked assured and dealt with the majority of Trinity attacks immediately before their goal came under threat. Nonetheless, early in the second half a penalty was conceded and new goalkeeper Fred Johnson, until then enjoying a relatively quiet spell between the posts, finally had the opportunity to prove himself. The penalty was well struck but Johnson pulled off an outstanding save, diving low to his left to smother the ball en route to the bottom corner. It was a remarkable piece of goalkeeping that proved to be the basis of a superb season for the keeper, who was a constantly reliable figure at the heart of the team’s success.
Michaelmas Term, whilst providing great displays of football at times, was still not a routine operation for Queen’s as many tough opponents awaited in the league. As winter progressed, attention turned from the attacking flair of Queen’s hot new prospects to the battling, spirited performances of a number of the more established players. Will Riley, a stalwart in either the defence or midfield, was a vital member of the team as he proved strong in the tackle and rarely gave away the ball. Equally, captain Alex Hardman never allowed team morale to drop and led from the front, inspiring his players in times of adversity. The high morale and amicable team spirit was apparent in a number of fixtures as Queen’s persisted to come from behind and win vital matches. An example was the endurance of Alex Edmiston’s pace and determination to the very last minute against Pembroke, as he forced a defender into a crucial mistake before playing the ball into the centre for his companion Harry Taylor to slot home a vital winner. Players such as Alex Edmiston and Will Riley will be sorely missed in coming seasons, as will all the other finalists who leave the side such as the athletic full-back Tom Dalton and the rock solid defensive pairing of Max Olds and Andy Jack, who underpinned much of the team’s success with brave defending and mature guidance of the younger members.
Unfortunately, Michaelmas Term included an early exit from the Cuppers competition against an impressive New College side. The team competed admirably against a highly professional outfit but fell 3-0 to some outstanding pieces of individual skill from opposition players, some of whom had represented the University. The result was a large blow but may have been entirely different if the match had occurred later in the season when the new players were embedded within the team and Blues’ winger James Kelly (scorer of a dramatic late equaliser in Oxford’s varsity success) had recovered from injury.
Hilary Term resulted in an impressive record of straight wins in the league and the Queen’s side looked almost unstoppable on its quest for league glory. The only question remaining concerned Lincoln, which had an equally impressive record and was an unfamiliar opponent as neither home nor away fixture had yet been played. As the season drew to a close, both sides having lost a solitary game, the two teams went to war in a game that could potentially decide the destination of the league title. Queen’s kept a tight and ordered formation held together by the midfield partnership of Williams, Kelly and Hardman to counter the fast passing game of Lincoln’s midfield and, with the game tied at 0-0, the second half was inevitably tense. The second half began well with Queen’s quickly taking a 2-0 lead but the inevitable offensive onslaught from Lincoln resulted in two goals that, whilst Queen’s were unlucky to concede (a mis-hit cross shot and a defensive mix-up), were probably well-deserved. The result took the season to the final game in which an emphatic 8-0 victory handed Queen’s the lead on goal difference. Queen’s won the second division with the best defensive record and goal difference in college football (+68), a reflection of the team’s well-rounded nature.
The second XI, captained by Kris Cawood, had a good season, despite losing in the early rounds of Cuppers, as it narrowly missed promotion in the league. Despite dominating matches and producing many attractive passing movements, its defensive frailties often proved decisive. The third XI, captained and innovatively managed by Max Tilley, had a disappointing season, but provided a lot of pleasure for those representing the team.
Thanks must go to all those who represented the Club this season and to Martin Cross the groundsman. Peter Southwell, the Club’s most dedicated supporter, must get a special mention in his retirement year, his support unfaltering and his oratory inspiring. The Club is hoping that the great success of this season will be continued into the future under the leadership of midfield dynamo Daniel Williams.
Women’s Association Football
Officers: Captain Giulia Pradelli
Women’s football has lapsed in Queen’s in the past few years, but this season saw the beginning of its rebirth. During Michaelmas Term, the new captain’s arduous task was to try to inspire enough Queen’s girls to set aside their fears about never having played before and to get at least seven players together for a match. By Hilary Term a stable team of very keen players had emerged, which was strengthened by weekly training sessions, where the more experienced players taught the basic skills to the novices. All were quick to learn, and some developed hidden talents, especially Portia Roelofs and Alex Burns as strikers, and Leila Hill and Constance Garnier as defenders.
Partly as a result of slow beginnings Queen’s enjoyed a mini-season rather than a proper season. Some matches also could not be played due to confusions about fixtures at Queen’s or to the opposing team being unable to field a full side. However, Queen’s were able to play two matches, one against Lincoln and another against Trinity. The team’s first match against Lincoln was somewhat uncoordinated as most of the team had never played in a real match before. However, the second match saw a remarkable transformation, with Trinity only able to score one goal, and with Queen’s making some very effective passes and playing some great football as a team. This performance even led the referee substitute, William Riley (whom we thank for stepping in at the last minute), to congratulate the team at the end of the match.
All in all, this season has been great for Queen’s women’s football, not so much for the number of goals or of matches played, but for the enthusiasm of all those who decided to give it a go and recreate the Queen’s women’s team. Thanks are due to Alex Hardman for his invaluable assistance in the initial organisation of the team by introducing the captain to the workings of college football. Thanks are also due to the Chaplain, without whom Queen’s women’s football would not have been possible.
From these beginnings, next season should see a more confident women’s team playing more matches, perhaps having recruited some new talent and seeing improvement in existing players, and with the same eagerness and affinity for teamwork as this year.