2011 – 2012
MEN’S ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL
Officers: Captain Harry Sever; Secretary Matthew Guinness
Queen’s football has once again endured something of a rollercoaster ride this season, battling relegation or dreaming of promotion with almost every passing week. Only two freshers, Carl Jones and Johnny Purkiss, claimed regular starting spots from what was a fairly disappointing crop compared to the sheer quantity of keen second years. But, having lost only a handful of players from the previous season, there was some promise for the season ahead.
However, optimism faded with the autumn sunshine, and the Club was forced to wheel out the old Queen’s adage of ‘Next year, next year…’ after another first round exit from Cuppers to a strong Lincoln side. Despite some decent performances against New, Christ Church and L.M.H., by the end of Michaelmas Term the league table painted an ugly picture after some under-strength sides suffered heavy defeats. Anchored to the bottom of the 1st Division at Christmas with just one win, the outlook was as bleak as the midwinter weather.
After snow forced some cancellations, the opening game in Hilary Term was against league-leaders, St Hugh’s. In the driving rain, locked at 1-1 with just two minutes left to play, captain Harry Sever got on the end of Dan Williams’ long ball to head home and snatch a dramatic victory for Queen’s. The following game saw an equally unlikely win against Lincoln. Another victory against New made it four in a row and implied that three more wins, all against supposedly inferior teams, would guarantee promotion. Unfortunately the loss of key players to injury or university commitments cost us dearly, most notably goalkeeper Fred Johnson who proved most difficult to replace as fourteen goals were conceded in his two-game absence. Losing all three games produced a nervous wait upon other results to discover whether Queen’s were relegated. News of a 4-4 draw between New and L.M.H., which guaranteed survival, sparked wild celebrations in the Queen’s beer cellar, but it could not disguise the fact that it had been a generally disappointing season. Matt Guinness was again top scorer, and has been chosen as captain for the 2012-13 season, with fellow striker Johnny Purkiss as vice-captain.
The 2nd XI, ably captained by Tom Watts, were the only Queen’s team to win a Cuppers game this season, but struggled in the league and were relegated to the bottom tier of JCR football for next year, whence new skipper Jon Lindfield will hope to bounce straight back. The 3rd XI, more commonly known as The Animals, were led by James Dinsdale, and benefited from his enormous enthusiasm, bringing out armies of players for every game, lured partly by the promise of half-time shandy. There were even cases of entire team half-time substitutions, demonstrating the exceptional depth of Queen’s footballing talent. Bizarrely, The Animals almost swapped leagues with the 2nd XI by achieving promotion, but narrowly failed to do so, their only consolation being that they had scuppered Teddy Hall’s promotion efforts. They will be captained jointly by Tom Pollard and Tom Nichols next season.
A huge thank you must go to the groundsman Martin Cross for keeping Fortress Riverside in such good condition all year round, and also to Peter Southwell, who has once again been the only supporter, bringing oranges and encouragement to every half-time talk. Again losing very few footballers this year, a strong group of freshers in October would be cause for genuine optimism next year.
WOMEN’S ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL
Officers: Captain Giulia Pradelli; Secretary Leila Hill
A number of new recruits particularly excelled during this season, among them being Elle Pilsworth and the future captain and vice-captain Rose Rands and Anna McHugh. Whilst Elle was an eager and fast midfielder and defender, who always supported her immediate team-mates, the repeated shots on goal and combination of Rose and Anna gave the opposing team’s defence many problems. Queen’s defence was, as usual, dependent upon the fierce and determined Leila Hill, who was often supported by another longstanding Queen’s player, Sophie Hughes. Sophie was probably the player who improved the most since the previous season, overcoming her initial fear and shyness and becoming a tenacious defender and defensive midfielder. However, all Queen’s players this year displayed a greater eagerness to improve both individually and as a team, as demonstrated by their flexibility in attempting the position of goalkeeper, necessitated by the fact that over the past three years, the team has not had a regular goalkeeper. Rosalie Shepherd, Becky Cross and, in particular, Ingvild Gudim developed their goalkeeping skills sufficiently to save the team from heavy losses, and even Anna McHugh produced a great performance in goal, a position she took up after suffering a muscle injury.
Indeed, despite there being fewer victories this season, matches were more even in terms of capabilities and determination than in previous years. One of the best matches was against New College, which saw Queen’s having more possession and playing some one-twos resulting in a goal by in midfielder Giulia Pradelli from outside of the penalty area. Unfortunately, the team went on to lose 1-2 as New College scored a lucky goal in the last few minutes of the match. The team’s performance reflects the gradual progression of the quality and ability of Queen’s women’s football since the first matches after its reincarnation two years ago. Indeed, even the win against L.M.H. because of the latter’s inability to recruit enough girls to play the match illustrates by contrast the extent to which women’s football has been reinstated as a popular sport in Queen’s.
Thus, there has definitely been an improvement over the past couple of years for women’s football at Queen’s, and this year saw the final consolidation of the team from its genesis. The team has a new kit, but more importantly it has new keen players and a new leadership who will surely carry on the tradition. It is also hoped that a new tradition will be an annual ‘old girls’ match. Much credit must go to Giulia Pradelli who has almost single-handedly brought Queen’s women’s football back to life over the past three years. Thanks must also go to all those who turned out, to Chris Greenwood and Cameron Graley who acted as referees, and to the groundsman, Martin Cross.