By Will Jennings
Summer has been and gone. The evenings are getting shorter. Leaves are falling from the trees. College A teams across Durham are preparing. October is here, and the Floodlit Cup is back.
And about time too. This is the competition whose participants dream of winning, a route into a club’s history books, a means of crafting a reputation as a sporting legend amongst one’s peers. Last year’s events compelled the masses, a series of Wednesday evening encounters that culminated in controversy and witnessed Collingwood pip a supporter-less Grey to the trophy with a climactic last-minute winner. Floodlit provides agony. Floodlit provides ecstasy. Its drama is unrivalled.
Herein lies the appeal of the cup, a competition that enables its teams to play in front of their loyal supporters, a competition that induces an unrivalled atmosphere that grips freshers and finalists alike, year abroad students and staff. Floodlit transcends year groups and friendship-based boundaries, uniting students in a common sense of solidarity, of optimism, of hope.
This season’s competition will inevitably be as unpredictable as ever. One match has already been played, a tie that saw St. Mary’s overcome a battling St. Chad’s in a qualifier to set up an enticing tie with last year’s finalists Grey in December. Having been in Chad’s bar on the night of the defeat, the despondence was palpable.
This is the cup that grips supporters, one that sees college bars open early to foster a raucous pre-game atmosphere and one that forestalls work-related productivity for one day at least. Fervent fanbases are ubiquitous across the competition, most visible in last year’s semi-final which saw some unedifying scenes of hostility between the Grey and Hatfield contingents. While we hope such clashes will not occur in the future, what the fixture meant to the fans was clear.
This year’s first-round draw has produced some competitive encounters, seeing Hatfield take on last season’s rampant Premiership champions Van Mildert, and John Snow come up against the triumphant Collingwood. With one first-round fixture scheduled for each week throughout the term, an unabating sense of drama is surely set to pervade Michaelmas up until Christmas.
Other first-round fixtures see Staff play Trevelyan, while St. Aidan’s are set to take on the travelling Stephenson early next month. The following week, St. Cuthbert’s will meet St. Hild and Bede, while University have been drawn against Ustinov in a tie scheduled for the 15th of November.
We’ve not long to wait. With trials and training sessions already completed, teams are starting to gel and preparing themselves for a physical and psychological challenge. Fans across the university are fine-tuning their chants and getting their voices in shape to roar on their heroes. Floodlit is back, and we can’t wait to get started.
Photograph: Willy Anggono via WA Photography