By Toby Pepperrell
After a mixed season for medics’ football, with an astounding 2’s promotion and varsity win alongside a 3’s double demotion, the inter-year event provided a clean slate for club members past and present. The first sunny day of the year lit the carpet of Heston as the boys arrived in dribs and drabs and every team backed itself in the pre-tournament chat. Tensions were high as three and a half teams warmed up, waiting for the final few übers and buses to roll in so that the four-way tournament could begin.
The doctors’ team kicked off the day against the 5thyears. From the start, it was evident that the doctors should have had the upper hand, the vast pool of alumni maybe producing the better footballing side. Unfortunately, it became apparent in the intense game of two ten-minute halves that the docs maybe weren’t as lean as they once were, with the 5thyears accumulating chance after chance. Adam Green, heroically mid-light opera 24, eventually lobbed an onrushing keeper to set the scene for the day: some great play amidst some more questionable football. The 5thyears came away 2-0 to the good, asserting themselves as favourites over the 3rdyear team and the freshers, yet to play.
The 3rdyear team suffered managerial issues and so the 5thyears, proceeding their dispatch of the docs, retook centre-stage against the freshers. 1styear captain Sam Acors cracked a long-range free-kick under the crossbar and the slightly worse-for-wear older side was victim to a surprising fresher victory, which they claimed fervently was the result of back-to-back fixtures.
It was then the turn of the buoyed up freshers to go straight back in against the docs. It was hard-fought, with the quick play of the freshers countered by the docs’ physicality and experience. The freshers scored early on and suffered some close calls at the hands of heavy-hitting alumni, but squeezed out another goal for a 2-0 win. The two teams rested on their aching and bruised laurels, awaiting the showdown between 5thand 3rd year. However, the 3rdyears’ managerial qualms presented as a shambolic performance and the floodgates opened for the 5thyears to ease to a 4-0 win.
The 3rdyears immediately faced the unbeaten fresher side. They got their act together and held the freshers for much of the game, who eventually took a 1-0 lead and held against the brunt of last-minute attacks with solid defence, securing their wildcard place in the final and ensuring the 5thyears the opposing corner.
The teams with a place in the final settled down to rest up before their game on London’s biggest stage, while the docs and 3rdyears scrapped it out for bronze. The 3rdyears’ heads were down from the off, suffering another 4-0 insult and achieving a strong last place with a goal difference of -9.
As hype for the final built up, the players waddled back onto the pitch with seizing limbs for their fourth and longest game of the day. The rested 5thyears showed their experience with 70% possession and territory for much of the first half. Eventually it took a world-class curling free-kick from Acors to alleviate the pressure, bettering his first strike to hammer into the top corner of the goal. The freshers regained their confidence into the second-half and a brilliant exchange through a befuddled 5thyear defence led to an easy tap-in second. A quick rebuff led to a dangerous 2-1 score-line, with the older team again piling on the pressure. The fresher team were eventually saved by the simultaneous final-whistle and fantastic breakaway solo effort from Toby Burn: 3-1, meaning the first fresher inter-year victory in over ten years at the club.