This year it was Oxford’s turn to host the ‘Best Day Of The Year’ at Iffley Road. Sunday 16th February 2020, however, turned out to be right in the middle of Storm Dennis’ tour of the UK, with many of the Saturday matches for both universities cancelled because of fears over high winds. This was not the case for the Squanderers, however, who got a big boost on the Saturday from securing promotion with an 11-0 win over Bourne Deeping 2s. The day of BDOTY itself was also under threat from Storm Dennis, with the facility managers at Oxford concerned about safety, and start times were delayed by two hours. However, we eventually got up and running, and thankfully the weather had no further part to play in the day.
The Blunderers (Men’s 4s) kicked us off at midday, the delay meaning that our travelling supporters all made it in time for pushback. On paper, the Blunderers have always gone into their Varsity match as underdogs, as their Oxford opposition, the Sporadics, play a regular league season in the East Leagues. The Blunderers are currently drawn from the college academy and the wider Squanderers (Men’s 3s) squad. However, this has not stopped them from winning three of the previous four Varsity matches! This year the Men’s 4th team match was another tense and close affair. The Blunderers had impressive spells of dominance and several good chances, with only several good saves from the Sporadics’ keeper denying them the lead. Oxford also had their chances, but the game finished 0-0, and it was the first (but certainly not the last) game of the day to go to the lottery of Penalty Shuffles. The Blunderers unfortunately only found the net once (via man of the match Tristan Hipper), leaving the Sporadics victorious.
Next up were the Bedouin (Women’s 3s) against the Mavericks. The Beds started the game excellently against a team that had sneaked a BUCS victory against the Nomads (Women’s 2s) only a couple of weeks previously, and deservingly took an early lead from a well-worked short corner by Izzy Clarke. The Mavericks, however, countered with a goal of their own later in the game and the game ended 1-1. Shuffles for the second match in a row. The Bedouin were not to be deterred, however. Emily Smith scored both her shuffles, the second in sudden death, and goalkeeper Rosie Stevenson put in a heroic performance between the sticks to ensure the Beds went home victorious.
The Squanderers vs Infrequents match followed, with the Squandies fresh from their demolition of Bourne Deeping the previous day. The Sunday, unfortunately, did not go the same way. An impartial observer will testify that the Squanderers were dominant in this match, led by captain and Cambridge man of the match Thomas Whitworth. They were extremely unlucky not to go a goal up on several occasions, including through a powerful Jason Allen drag-flick early on in the game. The Infrequents, to their credit, weathered this particular storm, and scored a counter-attacking goal to take the lead, and, ultimately, the win.
Nomads vs Radicals. The Nomads also started the game excellently against their Oxford opposition, winning several short-corners in the first half but they were unable to convert them. The scoreline remained goalless as the match progressed into a midfield tussle, and became the third match of the day to go to shuffles. Izzy Austin scored her crucial shuffle to keep the Nomads in it, with Sarah Alsaad also scoring a well-worked routine, but sadly it was not to be, and the Radicals emerged as winners.
The final match of the day, as ever, saw the Wanderers (Men’s 2s) take on the Occasionals. The visiting fans had seen little of goals and Cambridge victories so the Wanderers duly obliged. Implementing a zonal-style press pioneered by coach Kieran Gilmore, the Wandies imposed themselves on the fixture and put in their performance of the season. To give them their due, the Occasionals had the majority of possession in the opening minutes and were very unlucky not to go one-nil up. From then on, it was one way, the Wanderer way. The only goal of the first half came from a back post-deflection from forward Joe Chandler. Flicker/centre back Lewis Collins opened his account early on in the second half from a short corner, with fellow defender and flicker Demetris Stylianou also finding the net minutes later from another. Chandler scored his second from a penalty stroke awarded following a mazy run from Jim Dickinson into the D. Collins then converted another short corner and the game finished 5-2, Oxford converting two short corners along the way, but the result was never in doubt.
The club would like to thank Jack Gaunt for photographing the day. The full results and man of the match awards are as follows:
|I Clarke||I Clarke|
|Wanderers||Occasionals||5-2||J Wreford||L Collins (2)|
J Chandler (2)