By Will Jennings and Ella Jerman
Will Jennings, Deputy Sport Editor
As I stood by the newly constructed Track Crumb pitch at Maiden Castle last Friday night, I was filled with a wave of unanticipated nostalgia. The fixture was Grey A – my college – against Staff A in the final of the cup, a competition that had seen the appearance of three Grey teams in the last eight.
While my footballing ability had limited my involvement in the tournament’s climax to one of a mere spectator, my C team’s efforts in reaching the quarter-finals had been a run characterised by tenacity, unity and determination. Indeed, it is such ideals that have made my experiences of college football at Durham so memorable.
Grey A were triumphant that night, decisively defeating a Staff side whose performance was one defined by courage and valiance.
The mere presence of the team in the competition – a hybrid of staff from all corners of the university brought together by a common passion for football – is testament to the unifying nature of the college sport system, a format that offers both students and staff a frequent escape from the daily toils of the Bill Bryson Library as well as lectures and seminars.
At Durham, it really is one of the factors that makes this brilliant university so unique.
And it’s not just football. My experiences of sport at the university have extended to cricket as well as dart boards across the campus every Monday night, the latter of which is set to become Team Durham-run next year, owing to its ever-increasing popularity. More obscurely, my college have also enjoyed considerable success in sports such as Pool, Table Tennis and Ultimate Frisbee. At Grey, it is sport that has come to function as such an integral factor in so many students’ experiences.
So, as my days at Durham draw to their conclusion, I have no doubt that sport will endure as one of my fondest memories. Not just the playing, but the watching, the debating, the discussing with friends. Grey A may have been victorious that night on the crumb, but – to employ an old cliché – it really is less about the winning and more about the participation. Indeed, it is this participation that has fostered competition, unity and sociability that so many of us will go on to remember forever.
Ella Jerman, Deputy Sport Editor
When it comes to Women’s Football, there has never been a better time to come to Durham. The 2017/18 season was one of the most successful of recent years for our BUCS teams: The 1s topped the Northern Premier table for the fifth year in a row the 2s are Northern Conference Cup Champions for the third year in a row and the 3s went unbeaten to earn promotion to the Northern 3B League. DUWAFC ended the season in spectacular style after deservedly being awarded Club of the Year by Team Durham.
That being said, the success of our collegiate football teams often goes under the radar. If I were to give advice to any prospective Durham applicants, it would be to get involved in college sport sooner rather than later as the opportunities the intramural system offers are second to none.
When I was growing up, girls didn’t have many opportunities to play football. I have a distinct memory of arguing with my PE teacher in primary school about allowing girls to compete in the annual house football tournament. Opportunities to play football back then were few and far between.
With 16 11-a-side and 9 5-a-side teams, the intramural sports setup here is successfully contributing to the growth of the women’s game. Girls are afforded the opportunity to get involved in the sport, completely regardless of ability and some players who had never even kicked a football before go on to become one of the team’s most solid defenders or top goalscorers.
My time at Grey has been mostly dominated by women’s football and I would honestly say that it has been the highlight of my university experience.
Not only have I been gifted with numerous opportunities to play the sport I love, but the friendships and the memories forged on and off the pitch will stay with me for years to come.
Photograph: Durham University