The format comprises multiple pool matches lasting seven minutes with rolling subs from squads of 10 players before semi-finals and the grand finale. The quick turnaround between games coupled with rest periods facilitates a competition that pits youth against experience, with a dash of panache as a side serving.
The sun was shining, the sky was bright blue and the pitches were in perfect condition as this year’s gladiators returned to the RGS Theatre of Dreams. It was a record turnout that even included a first RGS father and son combination – Seth Lewis (2005-19) captaining David Lewis (1981-88) in team Gylfi Pleasures.
Guile and experience featured heavily in the teams from the 1990s; CV95, Class of 97 and Charlie's Angels captained by Dougal Hartley, Matt Hirons and Will Hale, respectively. All three 90’s sides competed with commitment, endeavour and enthusiasm, just occasionally making their physical presence tell against the young pretenders. Incidently, 'Charlie' the mysterious mentor, was none other than Charlie Hamilton who taught Geography at RGS (1993-01) and who now works with his former tutee, Matt Radley, at Blundells School.
From top down: Charlie's Angels, Class of 97, CV 95
The somewhat aptly named, Scraping the Barrel led by Rich Millard (1996-03) represented the early noughties with great aplomb, though clearly regarding the ‘taking part’ as more important than ‘the winning’. However, Rich was central to the goal of the tournament.
Scraping the Barrel
RGS Head of Football, Gary Leeds, organises the tournament so it was pleasing to welcome six teams comprising players from his era. These young alumni made the most of their fitness advantage while one squad, The Gary Leeds Fan Club, shamelessly tried to curry favour with the ever impartial Mr Leeds. Their weak mind games were simply no match for the imperturbable Master of Ceremonies.
From top down: The Gary Leeds Fan Club, Scrumpy FC, Turkey (a), Coral FC, Amstel Gunna Lose
After 42 closely contested pool matches, the semi-finals comprised three teams that had mixed the perfect blend of Resilience, Goals, Sportsmanship and Winning. Bob Marley’s Wailers, captained by Tom Smith, narrowly triumphed against the ironically titled Unfulfilled Potential, led by Seb Nevitt, whose squad was selected from 2012 leavers. Perhaps their potential will be realised next time around?
From top down: Bob Marley's Wailers, Unfulfilled Potential
The other semi-final featured previous winners No Two Ways About It, led by Alex Hills, against the tournament dark horse, Scanlon’s Superstars. The alumni from 2015 found themselves up against at well drilled team of RGS staff led by Mr Scanlon of the Maths Department. The staff worked the angles, upset the odds and dispatched the alumni challengers to set up the final.
From top down: No Two Ways About It, Scanlon's Superstars
The Wailers represent a golden RGS footballing generation from 2010 and the smart money was on them to give staff a master class on closing out the tournament - they scented victory in the manner of old war horses near the battle's end. However, the genial and softly spoken Mr Scanlon had his own idea of how the day should play out. Borrowing heavily from Shakespeare's Henry V, Skipper Scanlon rallied his troops, extolling them to head 'once more unto the breach' before they could enjoy the post match lunch buffet in the pavilion.
The Finalists preparing for the game of their lives (well that morning at least)
Both defences held true and so the final was to be decided in that most English of ways, by penalties. Nerves held on both teams until the mounting pressure led to an uncharacteristic miss which gave Scanlon’s Superstars the chance to win the trophy and the glory.
The moment called for a captain and fortunately one was ready. Mr Scanlon ruthlessly slotted home the winning penalty to the vociferous approval of his teammates. Alumni teams are already lining up for 2023 to take their shot at the staff team. Watch this space!
The Winners Take It All - Alumni 6-a-side Football Champions 2022 - Scanlon's Superstars