When TeaClub M met Biggleswade Utd

I thought my girlfriend was shaking my shoulders, screaming when Biggleswade Utd scored but when I turned round it was Guillem Balague!

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The Biggleswade Utd Hall of Fame

It was a good two years in the making. An item that went up onto the Bucket List. After countless tweets exchanged, our very own Michael from the #teaclub visited Biggleswade to see Biggleswade Utd play football. Here’s his take on the momentous occasion.

The alarm went off at 6am on a Saturday morning and I was super excited and could only think of one thing… a cup of tea. Mid way through my joyful cup of English Breakfast tea, it dawned on me that my girlfriend and I would be shortly boarding a train and heading to Biggleswade. This town is home of Biggleswade Utd, a football club playing in the Spartan South Midlands League – Premier Division. In terms of the English football league system, this equates to the 9th tier of domestic football.

Biggleswade Utd (BUFC) isn’t exactly a local team where I live. We are separated by over 160 miles but we are united in our passion for football, Top Eleven and tea. Their Director of Football is the iconic face of La Liga football on Sky Sports, Mr Guillem Balague. After a few tweets with Chairman of the club Chris Lewis, we soon found ourselves drinking tea out of BUFC mugs and making wild predictions about how former player Adam Drakulic would score the first goal in the 16th or 17th minute. More mugs of tea were drunk and more wild predictions didn’t come true.

When I saw that current Goalkeeper Tom Wyant had a kettle in his twitter picture, that was the final straw. I had to get down and see a game. I booked the train tickets for my girlfriend and I to pop down and make a day of it.

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The walk to Second Meadow. Scorchio!

Arriving into the town of Biggleswade we made our walk up to Second Meadow via the riverside walk. The sun was out and despite one or two raindrops, luckily the weather only got better and better. At the ground we saw Club Secretary and Fixture Secretary Tracey and Heather respectively, just two of the many friendly faces working at the club. I personally owe Tracey a debt of gratitude for all she has done for myself and for her hospitality on the day.

We were then introduced to the sharply dressed Chairman himself, Mr Chris Lewis. When the offer of a hot cup of tea came round, we couldn’t refuse. We discussed all things Biggleswade Utd, how addictive Top Eleven is and the rise of the TeaClub. It was at this point I got my picture taken, with a brew and home jersey on, in front of the infamous Hall of Fame. Here you’ll find dozens of framed pictures of current and ex-professional footballers, pundits and presenters, holding the red and blue. From Lionel Messi to Diego Maradona. From Thierry Henry to Chris Iwelumo (ex-St. Johnstone), there’s a player here for every football fan. Before the Merseyside derby kicked off, Norwegian striker Simen Stamsø-Møller arrived. During the game, Head Coach Cristian Colás arrived with a Spanish party. Then it was Director of Football, Guillem Balague himself. It was a real European feel inside the club house.

After watching the Liverpool v Everton game on the tele, it was time for the real football to begin. Visiting Biggleswade were top of the league (by quite some distance!) London Colney FC. They looked up for it as they arrived at the ground and it would take structure and chances to be taken in order to get a positive result.

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With Derek Beaver. Long time supporter of Biggleswade Utd. Purveyor of a good pint and a portion of chips.

Making our way to the stand, we met Derek Beaver, a long-time BUFC supporter and curator of the Biggleswade Utd Fans twitter handle. He is very much an #Ultrawade and could tell you almost anything about any player.  Worryingly, one or two other supporters could tell you anything about Derek.

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It was a tense opening 30 minutes.

It was a tense first half hour of football but the difference in league position didn’t show. Both teams working hard physically. The breakthrough came on 33 minutes with the strong Noweigen striker Simen getting a stab on the ball to poke it in the bottom corner. 1-0 BUFC.

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A focused M watches on as Biggleswade try and hold a 1-0 lead.

Our lead lasted for 7 minutes when Ashley Morrissey smashed home a flick on from a header during a free kick. Game on. A similar play was made later in the game but luckily it didn’t end up a goal.

At HT we went in for a cup of tea and a bite to eat so we could refuel for what promised to be a belting second half. The weather was really picking up now.  The brew certainly helped quench my thirst.

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Second Half. 1-1. All to play for.

The second half was a scrappy one, particularly for the home team, who really struggled to get a hold on the game. Passes weren’t connecting and the increased pressure from London Colney almost instilled a long ball strategy for Biggleswade. It wasn’t working out. In the 60th minute, London Colney rattled the crossbar. 4 minutes later they shot wide in a 1-on-1 situation. The warning signs were there.

But what better way to respond than on the 68th minute when some quality passing on the deck ended up with Kevin Owusu striking the ball past the keeper to make it 2-1 BUFC. I thought my girlfriend was shaking my shoulders, screaming when Biggleswade Utd scored but when I turned round it was Guillem Balague!

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Simen comes off to a rapturous applause for his goal and energy throughout the game.

Could we hold on?

Yes!

The FT whistle blew. 2-1 BUFC! What a performance. One that lifts the team into 6th position. 4th place is very much up for grabs this season.

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Charlie, Guillem and myself celebrate a 2-1 win.

Back in the clubhouse, it was time for a beer. Speaking to Chris, Tracey, Derek, Heather, Guillem…oh, and my girlfriend, we all were delighted with the result. There was plenty of quality, on both teams, and you could see that both managers had a game plan. This wasn’t just ‘hit and hope’ football. During every set piece or goal kick, both managers were constantly giving instructions and encouragement.

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Well done BUFC. See you next season!

The one thing I admired the most was that fans never once got on the players back and applauded every piece of good effort. The fans applauded every miss, even it it went into Row Z. It was great to see fans contributing in the development of these players.

What a fantastic day out. We’ll return next season for sure.

Price of Rail Tickets = £50

Price of Cup of Tea = £1

Winning 2-1 against London Colney FC = Priceless

biggleswadeunited.com

@Biggleswadeutd

Fan Club – @BiggleswadeutdF   Guillem Balague – @GuillemBalague

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TeaClub Premiership: Week 5

Temperatures soared into their 10’s and bumper crowds accounted for a thrilling series of games on Week 5 of the TeaClub Premiership. Merchandise was selling out fast for most teams, with the exception of Bristol Bluebirds, likely to be because of their league position. 100% of the games ended in 2-1 victories, apart from two of the five fixtures. Here’s your Week 5 Roundup.

Results

Week 5 Results

Week 5 Photo

Bristol Bluebirds manager Jack Barrow reacts to a tame effort by one of his players.

Bristol Bluebirds continued their slow start to the season with a goalless, gutless 0-0 draw against Lancashire Tea FC. They have only scored 1 goal all season and failed to register a shot on target in front of 538 home supporters at Park Street. Islington Piacha picked up their first win, beating Brew Tea Utd 2-1, thanks to a late free kick. Miles Smugglers and Sporting Punjana couldn’t separate their differences with a Desmond at Marshfield. Welsh Brew Town got back to winning ways and knocked Dorset Coasters off their perch with a 2-1 victory. Finally, disappointment for Yorkshire Tea FC in front of their home fans as they lost 2-1 to your new table toppers; AFC Ringtons.

Table

Week 5 Table

AFC Ringtons move into first place. Dorset Coasters drop into second. Bristol Bluebirds continue to hold everybody up. Nowt changes at that end. Let’s hope for better times ahead for the Bristol faithful. Join us next week for more jolly japes in the TeaClub Premiership.

TeaClub Premiership: Week 4

On Week 4 of the TeaClub Premiership, there was plenty of drama across the country. Drama such as the Lancashire v Yorkshire derby and how two teams are left with 100% records – although for lowly Islington Piacha, this is a record they’d rather not have. Disgraced referee Nick “Niko” Calvert was reinstated at the eleventh hour for the AFC Ringtons v Islington Piacha game, following the sudden disappearance of the replacement referee Keith Hambleton only hours before kick-off. Here’s your Week 4 Roundup.

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Absolutely nothing happened at Jurassic Park in the South-West derby between Dorset Coasters and Miles Smugglers. Total garbage.

The Results

Week 4 Results

AFC Ringtons move back up the table into 2nd and keep Islington Piacha bottom with a 3-1 victory at The Algernon. Shamed referee Nick “Niko” Calvert (or *&%#!$ as some of the fans were addressing him as) appeared to be showing a lenient attitude throughout the game despite a flurry of late tackles from both teams. Later that night, a local bookmakers confirmed a 4 figure sum has been paid out for a ‘zero yellows, zero reds’ stake of £50. Brew Tea Utd inflicted another defeat for Welsh Brew Town by 2 goals to 1. A snooze fest occurred between Dorset Coasters and Miles Smugglers, despite the hype in the local media. The White Rose of Yorkshire Tea FC proved to too strong for their Lancashire Tea FC rivals as they won 2-0. Finally, it was an afternoon to forget for Bristol Bluebirds as they traveled to Northern Ireland for a 4-0 thumping by Sporting Punjana.

The Table

Week 4 Table

What does it mean for our runners and riders then? Dorset Coasters are now the only team to be unbeaten despite a win for AFC Ringtons. Islington Piacha have yet to pick up their first points of the season, despite having a better goal difference than the woeful Bristol Bluebirds. They will look to change that as they both have home games next against Brew Tea Utd and Lancashire Tea FC respectively. Join us next Saturday for it.

TeaClub Premiership: Week 3

Following various disruptions caused by public transport strikes, all Week 3 games went ahead as scheduled as teams looked to push on in the TeaClub Premiership. A bumper attendance of 172,283 turned out for the matches. Unfortunately that was for the real Premier League games. A mere 40,392 turned up to see the TeaClub Premiership games. A record low.

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Longtime Yorkshire Tea FC supporter Jack braved the conditions as he made his way to London to see his team beat Islington Piacha 2-0.

Week 3 Results

Week 3 Results

It was another great week for Dorset Coasters who got one over their rivals, the Bristol Bluebirds. They are now the only team unbeaten and sit top of the league on 9 points. Jack’s efforts on the public transport to London paid off when Yorkshire Tea FC put two goals past Islington Piacha on a wet day in North London. Miles Smugglers and Brew Tea Utd scored one-a-piece in an entertaining encounter at Marshfield, unlike Sporting Punjana and Lancashire Tea FC which finished 0-0. Finally, Welsh Brew Town‘s good start to the season came to an end against AFC Ringtons, who could have easily won by more had it not been for a string of “No penalty” decisions from referee Nick “Niko” Calvert. He is now under investigation for match fixing.

Week 3 Table

Week 3 Table

Week 4 Highlight

A pick of the week has to be the fierce mid-table clash between Yorkshire and Lancashire. The White Rose versus The Red Rose. Pudding versus Hotpot. It’s at St. Helens Arena, so expect an intimidating atmosphere from the home fans, and a huge police presence.

TeaClub Premiership: Week 2 Roundup

After a successful relaunch of a real life fictional football league, aka the TeaClub Premiership, it wasn’t soon before the second round of fixtures. In a week of adverse weather conditions, including a weather bomb which accidentally exploded near The Algernon Stadium in Newcastle, all 5 games went ahead as scheduled. Here’s a roundup of the week 2 results and what it means in terms of the league table.

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There was confusion to begin with at Premier Park when both teams appeared to be aiming for the same goal.

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At The Algernon Stadium, Miles Smugglers breathed life into a dull affair, which saw 0 shots on target from either team, with a wicked deflection from a AFC Ringtons clearance. It gave the away team their thirst 3 points of the season. At Premier Park, a misunderstanding between Brew Tea Utd and Bristol Bluebirds (see above photo) amounted for nothing as both teams played out a bore 0-0 draw. Dorset Coasters target man Suresh Starr bagged 2 goals to help them cruise past Sporting Punjana. A soft penalty ensured Lancashire Tea FC claimed their first win of the campaign against Islington Piacha. A sluggish start to Yorkshire Tea FC‘s season continued as they went behind to a spirited team performance from Welsh Brew Town. Their growing fanbase will be absolutely delighted with that one.

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Suresh Starr in action for Dorset Coasters.

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So far we have 2 teams without a win. 1 team without a goal. 2 teams with maximum points and plenty of mid table mediocrity. Join us for Week 3’s games this Saturday. Will Yorkshire Tea FC score a proper goal? Will Welsh Brew Town give another show for the fans? Will Suresh Starr make a very early case for the Golden Brewt? Al sithee then.

 

TeaClub Premiership: The Return Of

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It’s back. After a disastrous, premature, early bath for the first incarnation of the TeaClub Premiership due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’, it’s back. Those 10 tea related teams have had an unexpected pre-season after a long campaign (of about 5 games) last season. All 10 teams took the opportunity to do a bit of team bonding, with teams such as Sporting Punjana and Dorset Coasters holding training camps in Magaluf and Amsterdam respectively. Invigorated by the ‘intense’ training sessions, it took only 30 seconds for AFC Ringtons to score the first goal of the new season. Here’s the results from Week 1:

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AFC Ringtons GK Maxwell pulled off many saves as they survived 89 minutes of Miles Smugglers dominance to win 1-0.

With blustery conditions across much of the UK, it made for tightly fought contests with the four out of the five fixtures being decided late on. AFC Ringtons just managed to hold on after that early goal. Dorset Coasters edged out Lancashire Tea FC in a thriller down on the Jurassic Coast. Miles Smugglers and Yorkshire Tea FC played out an uneventful 0-0 at Marshfield, despite 9 yellow cards and both teams finishing with 10 men. Sporting Punjana couldn’t stop the impressive Brew Tea Utd. Welsh Brew Town came from behind to thrash Islington Piacha 2-1, a game that had to be played behind closed doors following a printer issue with the tickets.

League Table

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Join us for Week 2 results next Saturday as the TeaClub Premiership teams continue to settle and attempt to show their intentions. Until then, pop the kettle on and put fire on full bar.

TeaClub Premiership (Week 4)

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The TeaClub Premiership continues this week with a stirring set of mid-week fixtures to make anyone gasping for a brew. With 4 teams going into the games at the top of the table, the chance to be 1st going into the Xmas fixtures was all the motivation needed. Heading into the fixtures on the back of a 4-0 drubbing by Bristol Bluebirds, the management at AFC Ringtons were not happy. The possible booze cruise themed Christmas party the night before was cited as a reason for their woeful defending. Let’s see what Christmas cheer Round 4 brought…

Results:

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Round 4 brought plenty of goals and chaos, much to the delight of Dorset Coasters fans who made the long journey to see their team brush aside AFC Ringtons 3-0. This could be partly down to their not being a sober enough Goalkeeper to play between the sticks and having to put a fan in nets who plays for a local Sunday league team in North Shields. A late penalty gave Miles Smugglers a win away at Yorkshire Tea FC. Welsh Brew Tea suffered another 2-0 defeat, this time at the hands of Islington Piacha. Sporting Punjana dominated basement side Lancashire Tea FC with a convincing 3-1 win whilst Brew Tea Utd struggles continued with a 1-1 draw against Bristol Bluebirds.

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TeaClub Premiership photographer Tom Critchley was at Underhill Park to see a disappointing Nick Calvert (white & blue) up front against Islington Piacha.

Table

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So it’s Dorset Coasters and Sporting Punjana who go top after Round 4. Join us on Saturday for some more tasty fixtures. Will Lancashire Tea FC get their first win of the season? Will Brew Tea Utd cause an upset in Dorset? Will my 15-fold accumulator on Swedish and Austrian football fixtures come in? Let’s find out. See you there.