By Pete Hanley, second year History student
This season has seen the university’s intramural football league system undergo organisational shifts in order to increase both participation and publicity.
One side that has reaped the benefits of these changes significantly is Riverside Dads FC, who currently play in the fourth division of the system (Ligue 1).
Whilst the on-pitch action may have been lacking in quality at times, the Dads have developed a strong social calendar (culminating in a team tour) which has often served to distract from the woes of the day’s 90 minutes.
However, this season has seen the Dad’s quality of football increase drastically from last season, with prospects for the 2019/20 season seemingly bright.
The team formed from last season’s City Centre Riverside accommodation side, failing to win a game throughout the entirety of the 2017/18 campaign (despite a famous 9-9 draw against Hiatt Baker 2nds which has since been immortalised in song by the Dad’s players).
Deciding to play on into the current season as an independent club, early results suggested that little had changed over the summer – a 10-3 defeat to EngMaths solidified this notion.
When a first win in over a year finally did come (a 9-0 walkover vs Wills), the team celebrated by lifting a trophy bought by the club captain, Pete Hanley.
A second win came the following week, when the Dads defeated Spartans 6-1. This extraordinary two weeks for the club set the tone for tighter contests, with a narrow defeat to top division UBLFC perhaps representing the side’s strongest performance of the season.
In early December, the club stepped things up when they embarked on their first international tour – a trip to Wales to face Cardiff University’s dentistry side, Borussia Teeth.
Organised largely by centre-back Harry Robertshaw, goals from Morgan, Barrett, Cameron, Sharma, McNey and Hanley were unable to prevent the Blues coming out 8-6 losers in a classic encounter in a cold and drizzly Cardiff.
The evening festivities enjoyed by both clubs cemented relations and ensured that a return fixture is on the cards.
Since the high of Cardiff, up to the time of writing, the Dads have only secured one more victory in Ligue 1 – an 8-1 defeat of a highly depleted AFC Churchill.
The expulsion of Wills from the league, due to lack of participation, has left the side bottom of the division. With three more league fixtures to go, against strong opposition, it looks a tall order for the Blues to avoid finishing rock-bottom for the second season in a row.
However, lack of on the pitch success has not inhibited the off the pitch activities which have become emblematic of the side.
In early April, a formal awards evening is planned, with awards ranging from more conventional footballing accolades (including a Golden Boot award currently in the balance between Fergus Cameron and Ben Morgan) to those you’d be unlikely to come across as a Premier League club – ‘Rear of the Year’ springs to mind.
Meanwhile, prospects for next season seem high: the club is looking at a range of sponsorship options and took part in March’s intramural varsity.
Changes to the intramural system itself have allowed broader participation in its activities, and Riverside Dads have exploited this to its fullest capacity.
Under the leadership of Tom Wallis and Amar Shah, communication of fixtures and pitch numbers is considerably more coherent than last season.
The League Republic website allows teams to view their upcoming fixtures, as well as their current league standings – a feature which has increased excitement surrounding Wednesday afternoons.
Most significantly, the introduction of Saturday morning fixtures to make up for previously cancelled matches represents a significant effort to increase the value for money teams receive from participation.
Intramural is a fun and social way to play semi-competitive sport at university. Riverside Dad’s fine balance between on the pitch quality and off the pitch fun is the prime example of how the system can benefit the student experience.
Featured image by Riverside Dads FC
Are you inspired to get involved with intramural sport? Let us know!