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Album Review: TBA

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sport: The Copyright Cup 2007

If I said I was playing in the Copyright Cup would you know what I was talking about? The name needs some explanation I feel.

Well, several months ago now eleven librarians from the National Library of Scotland (NLS) went in to their closets and each removed a pair of old, battered and, no doubt mud-encrusted, football boots. This innocent gesture began a chain of events that ended up in the NLS inviting three other copyright libraries to join them in Edinburgh for a magnificent tournament of football.

So it was on Friday 1st June 2007 that several football-obsessed Cambridge University librarians, one being myself, caught the 10:33 from Cambridge bound for bonnie Scotland and an exhausting weekend of advancing inter-library relations.

The Pear Tree on West Nicolson Street became the initial destination where all four teams met up for the draw. An event perceived by many as a chance to judge their opponents varying levels of fitness. First impressions were that there were more of those taller and younger than us and fewer not so.

As Ireland drew Scotland and England drew Wales out of the hat roars and groans went up. The Welsh were feared – any side with their own kit and team bus must be good. Friendships were immediately struck up, however, and all were quick to learn that this was a tournament not to be taken lightly.

Saturday began with a pre-match stroll up local landmark Arthur’s Seat. Halfway-up it became apparent that this wasn’t our best idea ever. 823 feet later and with aching bones, a muddle of chastened Cantabrigians steadily descended back to base-camp.

Not an hour later and all were heading for Peffermill Playing Fields and the semi-final play-offs. Team photos were taken and then anthems were sung (some National, some alternative) and the games commenced.

First game up for Cambridge was Wales and this proved to be a particularly tricky proposition. A well-drilled defensive unit of Siam Bhayro, Angela Pittock, Tim Cruickshank and Angela Fitzpatrick, thwarted many a Welsh attack but as the reds domination began to tell it became apparent that the breakthrough would come. Goalkeeper, Robin James, was making incredible save after incredible save and at half-time the score remained 0-0 and a well-earned breather for the Cambridge defence.

Second half began with the Welsh pushing their enormous centre-back, Huw Bonner into an attacking midfield role. Within minutes he’d made two searing runs into the box and the score was 2-0, one a towering header from a pinpoint cross on the right and the other a defence-splitting dribble and shot. Nothing for it then but to push more players forward in search of that elusive CUL shot at goal. And it worked. Two weak shots came in from Tim Cruickshank and John Clarke. One easily scooped up by the NLW keeper and one way over the bar. But at least the Welsh goal had been threatened. Ultimately though, the extra gaps at the back meant clearer NLW attacks and at the final whistle the score was 4-0 to the boys and girls from the valleys. Despite the long faces, we all agreed that the cheerleading CUL substitutes Chris Bell, Eleonore Migiet, Rachel Marsh and Claire Murnin, plus WAGs Louise and Hazel, had made the most noise and had kept the team going with their continuous chanting. Naturally, we claimed a moral victory for this reason.

Rushing across to find out the result of the other match we learned that Scotland had triumphed over Ireland 3-1. So tomorrow’s matches, to be played consecutively would be England v Ireland in the third-place play-off, and Scotland v Wales in the final.

After quick showers and some more bonding at the bar, it was off to the Ceilidh. Held at the Counting House, next door to the Pear Tree, there waited an array of food, drinks & a full Ceilidh band which gave the teams a chance to let their hair down and dispel the myth of the finger-wagging timid librarian once and for all. Kilts were worn with pride by a few Scots which added a real sense of national pride to the occasion. Cambridge got stuck into the ceilidh dancing enthusiastically and soon picked many of the intricate steps involved to their own and their team-mates astonishment. As the evening drew to a close all agreed it was a wonderful way to spend a night out in Edinburgh.

The morning of the last matches began with drawn faces and aching limbs; team-mates comparing bruises and minutes of sleep gained. A hearty breakfast soon revived spirits (those that had plumped for the haggis on the first morning chose something a little less adventurous) and the walk down to the ground was a lively one. A full warm-up was needed to remove the aches and then it was straight into the battle to avoid the wooden-spoon.

Ireland began brightly but soon it was England who began to dominate possession. Suddenly, the goal was in sight and a deft through-ball led to skipper Richard Young controlling in the area and side-footing adroitly into the net. 1-0 to the CUL. The celebrations were more an outpouring of relief than anything else. To leave without scoring in the tournament would have been a complete failure. Little were we to know that this match would contain eight excellent goals! Ireland equalised and then took the lead with their star-player, Stephen Hanaphy, causing havoc when pushing forward. The half-time whistle went and a rousing Cambridge team-talk ensued. “We can win this but we have to stay focussed”, was one cry.

Suddenly we were off again with inter-library loan officer, John Clarke, pushed deeper to midfield-enforcer, and manuscript fetcher, Ian Pittock, moved to the wing. This was working. More Cambridge pressure, a wicked Tim Cruickshank dribble, a late run and deft header from Clarke and it was 2-2. But, alas, Ireland forced it down the left wing and crossed for 3-2. Immediately, Charlie Cruickshank picked it up in midfield, went past two, nay three, defenders and blasted it into the Irish net. 3-3. But, woe of woes, poor tracking from Clarke and the team from Dublin had another. 4-3. With time ebbing away, a steaming run from Andrew Alexander and a pass into Jez Cruickshank’s feet and suddenly their was an opening. Jez looked up, a good 20 yards out, turned and blasted it high and wide to the keeper’s left for 4-4. The crowd screamed and hollered. What a match. As the final whistle blew Cambridge celebrated the draw like a victory. Bronze medals all round and a split wooden spoon which quickly went walkabouts.

So, to the final. I’d love to say this was the beautiful game at its finest, but I’d be lying. The Welsh humbled the poor Scots and despite a few attacks down the right from the boys and girls in blue it was an all-red walk-over. Camwy MacDonald banged in two, Huw Bonner lifted his tournament tally to three and two Welsh penalties were missed. The crowd cheered and booed in all the wrong places and the National Library of Wales rode out deserved winners 4-0.

The weekend ended with speeches in the bar. The NLW captain said how he was chuffed to bits to be hosting the next Copyright Cup and promised to make us all as welcome as the NLS had made us feel. Rachel Edwards, the organiser, thanked everyone for attending and making the event a complete success and all teams responded in kind by thanking her for making it more enjoyable than they could ever have imagined. Richard Young, the Cambridge captain, said “It is an honour for the CUL to be part of the first Copyright Cup, and this can only be good for public relations between the copyright libraries. I'm very proud of all my players, who have trained hard over the last 5 months to be ready for the tournament and we can't wait for Wales next year”.
Hear, hear.
© Johnskibeat

Click here to read the heavily edited version of my report on the University of Cambridge website...

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