Collingwood College ‘P’ team seal first victory

By Alexandra Murphy-O’Connor

The ‘P’ Team is the sixteenth men’s team in Collingwood College Association Football Club, or CCAFC, which is the largest amateur football club in the UK. Last Saturday saw third-year captains Iwan James and Ben Martis-Jones lead their freshly-formed team to a 5-4 victory against Grey Fs at their inaugural game. This is particularly impressive as they had never trained as a team before, and it was also several of the boys’ first ever game of football, having signed up to CCAFC simply to have a kickabout with some friends.

Iwan and Ben captain a team predominantly comprised of first-year students. This new team was formed due to the sheer scale and popularity of men’s football at Collingwood College, an ever-growing society. Iwan described them as a group of boys who were “keen to get involved in the club”, and he saw their potential despite not being picked for the other teams. His main aim for the team is simply to “make good memories” and “play with your mates”. Iwan found it “rewarding to think about how people who wouldn’t ordinarily be part of a team” came together with whatever kit they had and worked as a team.

The main aim for the tea is to make good memories and play with your mates

The ‘P’ team’s victory follows on from the ‘O’ team’s undefeated season last year, resulting in their promotion to Division 5 this season. Their spirited and informal personality marks them out as one of the more sociable teams in CCAFC. They pride themselves on their “inclusivity,” which was the philosophy that team originators James May, Alex Harvey and James Murphy wanted to promote when they created the team. In parallel with the ‘P’ team, many of the ‘O’ team boys had never played football before coming to Durham. Their successful teamwork reflects the undeniable importance of camaraderie, fundamental to the CCAFC culture. Murphy attributes the success to the “tight bonds between the boys,” strengthened by their team tour to Edinburgh last year. Unfailingly they have “a full team turnout at weekly training sessions, matches and socials.” He added that their current success “means everything to the team.” It demonstrates that “the fifteenth team doesn’t have to be bad – CCAFC can produce fifteen teams and every one of them can involve decent football and healthy competition.”

Fellow ‘O’ Team members Tom Kinsella and Tom Padgett respectively describe the team as “so inclusive,” and “very diverse” as there are members from many different backgrounds, all united by the sport. The boys agreed that they have met so many new people whom they might never have otherwise interacted with if they had not joined the club: both now feel it is an “extra friendship group” – “it’s so nice to meet so many people and see them around college.” Murphy continues to say, “the whole college sport system is so good in Durham,” compared with other universities, because of our collegiate system. “We are very lucky that we can play more casual games but still play competitive matches every single week.”

Kinsella remarked that he “hesitated before going to the trials as a fresher because he didn’t own a pair of football boots.” Collingwood’s current JCR President, Eddie Jones, encouraged him to go, stressing to him that it was the “best thing you’ll do at uni.” If there is one piece of advice Kinsella encourages people to take away from his story, it’s that everyone should “get involved, give it a go!”

Aaron Owen, Collingwood Sport’s Captain and former CCAFC President, commends the ‘O’ team’s victory, saying that “these boys have built up such a camaraderie” – “to have a team that is so consistent is impressive.” They “epitomise what college sport, and sport in general should be.” More specifically, “winning is great, but having fun is the priority.” The team “contributes immensely to the club culture,” and Owen believes that their dependability at club events, as well as their support at the matches of the other men’s and women’s teams is brilliant. “They really give back to the club.”

Winning is great, but having fun is the priority

CCAFC boasts 16 men’s teams from ‘A’ to ‘P’ and 2 women’s teams. It reflects the inclusive ethos of sport at Collingwood College as it facilitates students of all abilities to play at their own level. A core element of the club is the integration between year groups, wherein boys and girls form familial bonds with their teammates that will last for years to come. Collingwood is also fortunate to have its own AstroTurf, funded by several major donors, which enables the teams to train regularly in preparation for matches. Last year, the successful seasons of the E, F, K and N teams resulted in their promotions in their respective leagues, which is a fantastic achievement for the club. Thus, it is only the ‘P’ team which is in the bottom division this season, and captain Iwan believes it would be an added bonus for his new ‘P’ team to end the season with a promotion too so that they can play other Collingwood teams and go on to achieve bigger and better things. Additionally, the Collingwood men’s team won last year’s Floodlit Competition at the end of Epiphany term, with a great turn out of supporters at every match. The O team unfailingly encouraged the community to come along and support their peers.

The success of the ‘O’ and ‘P’ Teams is a landmark victory – the boys should be very proud of themselves. Congratulations on your victories – it will be exciting to see what further successes the future brings.

Image: Grant Slater

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