Having comprehensively regained the Stan Calvert Memorial Cup last year, Northumbria’s 73.75-67.25 victory in this year’s varsity competition means the Poly have, for the first time in their history, lifted the cup three times in a row.
The victory is the latest chapter in a story of Northumbrian sporting dominance over their city rivals. Newcastle’s wait to re-claim the trophy goes on, but the Uni will be heartened to have closed the gap between the two Universities from 34 points in 2015, to just 6.5 in 2016.
The main week’s events began with Northumbria establishing a head start in the competition by managing a comprehensive 5-0 thrashing of Uni’s Women’s Football 1sts. It was a week to forget for the Uni female footballers whose 2nd team were also beaten 5-0 on Super Sunday.
Tuesday saw Northumbria stretch their early lead with a win in the Men’s Volleyball 1’s. The Poly wrapped up the points with a 3-0 straight sets victory over the Uni. The reigning champions comfortably secured the three sets (25-13; 25-7; 25-13).
Newcastle closed the gap on Northumbria on Wednesday with a clean sweep of victories. Despite both posing relatively low batting scores, the Newcastle Uni Cricket Club’s 1st and 2nd team bowled their opponents out quickly to take the points. Elsewhere, Newcastle’s Boat Club continued their good form in the rowing.
The Equestrian competition took place over two days, with Dressage being held on the Wednesday and Show jumping on the Thursday. Newcastle showed their dominance on horses, winning by a hugely impressive 112.5 points.
By Thursday night there was very little to separate the two Universities, after Newcastle battled hard in the pool to win two out of the three Waterpolo matches. The highlight of which was a 10-9 win for Uni’s Men’s 1st team, who survived a last minute surge by Poly to take the points, narrowly.
Saturday saw Northumbria regain a clear advantage and mount the pressure on their rivals going into the final day. Defeats for Skiing, Snowboarding, Gaelic Football and Men’s 3’s Basketball saw the Poly’s lead stand at 32-18 at the start of Super Sunday.
The day’s earliest kick off, the Women’s 2nd Basketball, got Newcastle off to a poor start with Northumbria running away as 50-8 victors. On the adjacent court, a bloodied and battered Men’s 2’s were also beaten, 61-80. Better news emerged from Northumbria’s Sport Central, where the Badminton girls’ 2nd team had beaten the Poly 6-2.
“Considering the margin of defeat was 34 points last years I feel we have made incredible strides forward this year and were thoroughly competitive against a fantastic sporting University in Northumbria.”
Midday successes from Newcastle’s Women’s 2’s in Squash and Hockey saw the overall gap closed to 36-20, but the underdogs were still left with plenty to do. Back at Newcastle’s Sports Centre there was more good news as the Netball 4’s clung on to secure a narrow 26-24 triumph.
As more lunchtime results flew in, the competition reached boiling point. At around 3pm, only three points separated the two teams and both were now going gung-ho to try and get across the line in pole position.
Newcastle were then dealt a huge blow as the Men’s fencers lost unexpectedly 103-134, the first time that the Newcastle Blades have ever lost a varsity match. To add to the woe, the Women’s 1st Hockey suffered late heartbreak, losing 2-3 to their Poly counterparts at Longbenton.
Over at Coach Lane the Men’s footy 2’s battled bravely but were undone by two goals from Ayoze Perez’s brother in a 1-3 defeat, despite being cheered on by their 1st team colleagues who looked calm and collected ahead of their trip to Gateshead International Stadium for the finale.
The Men’s Hockey Club endured a mixed afternoon at Coach Lane. The 2’s laboured to a 3-1 win against a Poly outfit who compete three tiers below in BUCS. Then, the 1’s threw away a lead to draw 1-1 with a side also a league below themselves.
With the afternoon’s matches drawing to a close, supporters from both Uni’s made the short Metro journey down to Gateshead Stadium for the finale. This year the honour fell on Men’s Football, who were locked in battle last year in an enthralling 2-2 draw.
This time around underdogs Newcastle went one better and came away 1-0 winners, to the delight of the gathered Uni supporters. Olly Walker’s perfectly placed finish coming midway through the second half, after neither side managed to create much in the first.
The surprise victory marked the end of what was a valiant effort from Newcastle in the competition as a whole. Eager to dampen the footy lads’ celebrations, the stadium tannoy quickly announced that Northumbria had won the overall Cup. The Uni fans remained standing to proudly applaud the heroic footballers off the field.
Reflecting on his team’s brave efforts, AU Officer Angus Taylor expressed his pride. “Absolutely gutted to lose the competition by only 6.5 points but at the same time I’m immensely proud of all Team Newcastle athletes and clubs who competed in the event.”
Taylor believes that Newcastle performed admirably to close the gap to Northumbria so quickly. “Considering the margin of defeat was 34 points last years I feel we have made incredible strides forward this year and were thoroughly competitive against a fantastic sporting University in Northumbria.”
The narrow defeat has certainly restored a sense of pride in Newcastle’s sports teams and all but buries the ghosts of last year’s haunting competition. With that in mind, Stan Calvert 2017 looks set to be another cracker and Newcastle will be hopeful of going one better and reclaim their crown.