On the second Saturday of March, in cold and dreary conditions, Falmer Sports Complex played host to both current and former Sussex sportsmen and women in the rebranded: past versus present competition (formerly old boy/girl). This year there was a trophy up for grabs which ensured the competition in the sports played was always going to be fierce. Clearly the returning athletes wanted to teach the current crop how their respective sports should be played, whilst the current squads did not want to be shown up by their former team-mates and peers.

Past vs. Present Womens Football (photo: Dave Owens)
Past vs. Present Womens Football (photo: Dave Owens)

As the Falmer Sports Complex bar started to fill up prior to the start of each game there was a real buzz in the air, as former players from all sports were able to catch up with each other and reminisce about their previous sporting successes. The sports being played on this day were: netball, women’s football, men’s football, men’s rugby and women’s rugby, with both Hockey men and women playing their matches later in the year.

The first game to start proceedings off was women’s rugby. An extremely competitive start to the game did not relent throughout the 80 minutes of play. Despite the current squad recently experiencing some good results, such as reaching the semi-finals of the BUCS cup, the past players were a little too much for them and they ran out eventual winners, 28-0.

In contrast to their female counterparts, the men’s rugby team were able to level things up for the current squads as they proved victorious in a tightly fought game. The final score of 17-25 reflected a very good game between two very contrasting sides; the most notable contrast being the size and power of the returning students. Regardless, the pace and superior fitness of the current players was able to show through as players like Johnny Mac were able to scythe through the flagging old boys defence for a number of tries.

Despite the conclusive result score wise, there was a little controversy surrounding the fact that the scrums were uncontested as a result of it being a thirteen a-side match. A number of former players believed this played into the hands of their more mobile successors who were able to exploit holes left by the players bound in the scrum.

With the scores at this point in time being all level it was the turn of the men’s footballers to take to the hallowed turf of the first team pitch. Like the other games played on the day, the sprightliness of the former members seemed to take the current squad by surprise as the past players took an early lead thanks to a good delivery into the box by ex-club captain Nick Clary. The lead was soon doubled with another good ball into the box causing confusion amongst the defence. The third and best goal of the game soon followed as a poor clearance fell on the edge of the box to Jack Clines who on his left-foot clinically drove a half volley into the top corner.

Past vs. Present Mens Rugby (photo: Dave Owens)
Past vs. Present Mens Rugby (photo: Dave Owens)

Half-time could not come soon enough for the current crop of footballers who were keen to halt the scoreline from becoming even more embarrassing. Whatever was said at half-time had the desired effect as the current lot showed more desire and endeavour and were soon rewarded with two goals to draw closer. However this was not enough as the past football team showed their experience to hold on for a well deserved 3-2 victory. There was a second game scheduled to be played but due to a lack of fitness from all involved this had to end at half-time with the current squad levelling things up with a 1-0 victory.

All that was left to play at this point was the netball and the women’s football and with the scores evenly poised at 2-2 there was still lots to play for. The returning netball girls put in a very impressive performance winning 14-4 in some cold conditions. This meant that the women’s football result would decide which direction the coveted trophy was to go in. The match itself finished 2-1 to the returning football girls however this result was contested by the current team which included the USSU president. She commented the 2-1 loss for the current team ‘was not a fair reflection of the game itself with the disallowed goal being a totally unfair decision’. Despite the controversy surrounding this decision the final result was 4-2 to the past squads who gratefully received the trophy.

All in all the day was great chance for former and current players to reunite in familiar circumstances. Special thanks must go to all the people who helped organise the event and remember to come and support all the current teams at our annual varsity match against Brighton on Wednesday 29th April.

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