I find Elliott contently writing up lecture notes in the library as we meet to discuss this week’s Varsity events, and he quite honestly tells me that he’s catching up on the work he missed due to the first football social of the year that occurred last week. However, it gave us the perfect opportunity to discuss emotions within the team as they approach their first competitive game of the year.
“Pretty confident actually” he replied at the thought of taking on the Uni of Leeds team and describes the team’s past success when playing in the Varsity tournaments. “It’s a massive game but we’ve had a long pre-season which we haven’t had before and we’re feeling good” he says as he goes on to recall the pre-season training schedule.
Elliott describes how the squad have never had pre-season training before but how it’s helped the team to ‘get all their rustiness out’ ready for the game on Wednesday. Thinking back to the games I watched last season, I wonder how the squad compares to last year and I can’t help but ask if there’s any standout new talent that we should look forward to seeing this season. “We’ve lost a good few players” he tells me as he looks back on last season, “obviously a few third years have left us now but we’ve definitely grown in strength in a few areas, plus I’m still there” he remarks with a cheeky smile on his face.
We reverted back to the topic of pre-season training and discuss how the idea came about. He very openly describes how the club needed to do something differently. “Overall, as a club, we had a pretty poor season last year so the director and the all managers and a lot of the players suggested that we needed to do something to get us working together as a team before the season begins” he says, reinforcing what a great idea it was.
After spending his summer working in the USA coaching football at clubs in a number of different states, and travelling to Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto among many others, it’s fair to say Elliott needed something to get him back into the game. “I was very unfit last season, and only felt fit towards the end of season but I was getting match fit as I was playing and that’s a really bad position to be in”.
Elliott described how the two weeks of pre-season not only helped him but also were a massive boost to the performance of the entire club. I was intrigued to hear whether fresher’s week had affected the turn-out for training but Elliott confirmed that it was a massive success and I was reminded just how important sport is to so many students at Beckett.
As I remind Elliott of the team’s first league game (an away game against Northumbria University on Wednesday 12th October) he tells me how the league is slightly different from last year in terms of the locality of the teams. It’s definitely a huge achievement that the Beckett men’s 2nd team now play in a league compromised of 4 1st teams and one 2nd team due to their success last year, with the league compromising of Northumbria University, University of York, Leeds Beckett University, University of Leeds, and Leeds Trinity. “I’d much rather play locally” Elliott admits when asked how he thinks this change in the league will affect him “I hate the travel, parts of it are fun, but it’s not fun having to play a game when you’ve sat on a bus for hours”.
ARE WE READY?
I can’t deny that apprehension ran through me as I asked the killer question and saw the stream of thought run through Elliott, but “yes” he replied. “It’s tough because the selection process isn’t easy, the team that play at varsity may not be the team that play in our first league game, I guess it’s a perfect trial game for us and if players perform then they’ll get selected for the game next week, but we’re a sharp team and yes I think we’re ready”.
I was also keen to know how it feels to play against guys who are ultimately friends, when playing against the Beckett’s 1st team. “It’s a little different from last year” he explains as he tries to solve the inquisitive look on my face. “Last year we played against the 3rd team and there was a lot more pressure knowing we were the higher team and if we lost then we would look so bad, but this year going in as technically the less able team, you’re going with no pressure, obviously we’ll still put our all in to win the match but there’s a lot less pressure to retain the title of the better team I suppose” he added.
The two teams do very often train together and it’s easy to imagine that playing in a team when you’re wearing the home kit and they’re wearing the away kit is difficult, but Elliott goes on to tell me how it is treated just like a normal match and every player is there with the aim to win the game.
LOOKING FORWARD TO VARISTY!
Wednesday’s Varsity game kicks off at 12:00 on the grass pitch at the Uni of Leeds home ground, Sports Park Weetwood. Hopefully you’ll come along and support our 2nds team as they take on our ultimate rivals Uni of Leeds! For a full schedule of all the varsity fixtures visit http://www.leedsvarsity.com/.
Words by Hannah Sharpe
Edited by Dan Wood