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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Tea XI

Ok so we know we’re not nexcessari…nessea…..neccesiri…. new to the idea of a football eleven based around a particular theme. Radio stations such as talkSPORT and 5 Live do it all the time. Or at least they used to do it. Maybe I’m just getting old? Essentially you get the subject; say ‘Fish’. Then the listeners come up with a footballer, past or present, that fits in with the fish theme. Conor Salmon is too easy. How about Neil ‘Razor’ Haddock? Ok so that’s quite average. Seabasstian Bassong. Better, although we kind of used him for the #teaXI.

The idea to do a #teaXI wasn’t our own. For it was our good friend The Hoggfather on twitter. He got the ball rolling with this:

It got us thinking and it got Nina Baker (another good friend and regular contributor to the #teaclub) thinking too. Then Nick Calvert (personal friend and fan of tea) weighed in with a few. @martandvic also chipped in and didn’t disappoint. It made for a very entertaining hour or so and the creativity was endless. Full credit to these people for joining in.

So what did we come up with? Here’s our thirst eleven.

Chairman: Roman Assamovic.

Ground: Chaibury.          Chairman: Roman Assamovic.

Thanks to everyone for their contributions. Special acknowledgement of David Teaman, Michael Earl Grey and Matea Vydra Next time we shall do a #BiscuitXI.

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Curly Coo Tablet

A while back, myself and fellow tea lover The Hoggfather (or Kev if you prefer first names) were discussing the joys of dipping biscuits into tea. He then experimented with some tablet by dunking a piece into his brew and tasting the results. He gave it the two thumbs up. Words such as belter” and “topper” are often used by Kev and by dunking his tablet, he was soon using his well-known adjectives once again.

It was through some tablet and tea research that I discovered Curly Coo Tablet, an independent business based in Kelso, Scotland. It’s close to the border so for us folk in England we don’t have to travel too far into Alba to get there. However, it is a beautiful country and I recommend anyone going North of the Border to stay for as long as they can. Some cracking views and tea rooms.

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Curly Coo Tablet - BackAnyway…

The #teaclub got chatting to Vanessa at Curly Coo about tablet and the pleasures of dipping it into a mug of tea. Much debate was had and it wasn’t long before we got to know of their own tablet which was said to ‘melt in the mouth’. Vanessa was so passionate about her product and so confident we would like it that she sent Kev and myself a sample packet.

Our tablet arrived in the post and we were both keen to get the kettle on. Here’s a picture of the Flint Tea (English Breakfast no less) I had with my tablet.

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Dunking Tablet

I had a piece. Actually that’s a lie, I had several of the pieces and wasted no time in dunking a couple. What a treat it was too. Each pieces carries that traditional texture of Scottish tablet but this was some of the creamiest and freshest tasting tablet I’ve had in my lifetime. The praise didn’t just stop at me. I slipped up and offered pieces around to the whole family. My mum said it was the best tablet she had ever tasted. In fact, my mum has since said that she will happily place an order with Curly Coo in the future for more tablet. I’m with her on that too. I know I’ll be wanting some more in the future. Given that my girlfriend wasn’t up North at time of sampling, she insists on trying some too so that’s another bag to be ordered. As for Kev…

If you like fudge, you’ll love Curly Coo Tablet. If you like tablet, then do consider Curly Coo Tablet. You won’t look back!

Oh and if you like talking about Scotland, then Vanessa is a fountain of knowledge. Very passionate about the country she lives in, Kelso and the local small towns.  Contact details can be found below.

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-M

Biggleswade Utd. 5 players I’d like to see hold the famous red & blue.

Ok so I’m not going to lie, having Guillem Balague as Director of Football was a big attraction to wanting to find out more about Biggleswade Utd and lend my support for the forthcoming season. The fountain of knowledge when it comes to La Liga football and always a joy to watch on Sky Sports. Even heard him a few times on the radio offering his thoughts on transfers to and from two of the biggest leagues in the world, the Premier League and La Liga.

If you follow Guillem or Biggleswade Utd on twitter you’ll have probably seen the occasional tweet involving an image of a top flight footballer or manager holding the home shirt of the Bedfordshire club. Xabi Alonso, Gareth Bale, Diego Maradona, Javier Mascherano, Pep Guardiola… the list is endless. What’s even more pleasing is the presence of current (and former) Valencia players, the La Liga team I support. Things have been positive for Los Che over the last two seasons and credit has to go to current manager Nuno Espírito Santo. Coincidentally he also finds himself on the Biggleswade Utd Hall of Fame list.

Today's tea is the Signature Blend from Thompson's Family Tea.

Today’s tea is the Signature Blend from Thompson’s Family Tea.

Earlier in the week the #teaclub received two club mugs. Perfect for match days where we can raise our cups of tea to the players and staff. As I was drinking a cup of English Breakfast I was thinking about players I’d love to see hold the famous red & blue home jersey. I started jotting down names on a scrap piece of paper whilst on a lunch break at the office. Here’s the 5 players I’ve come up with.

1. José Gayà (Valencia). Valencia seem to have a bit of a thing about producing top quality left backs (Jordi Alba, Jeremy Mathieu to name a couple) and Gayà is another example. The 20 year old broke into the first team last season and I expect him to be in the starting XI for the 15/16 campaign.

2. Óliver Torres (Athletico Madrid). Another young player with bags of potential. An attacking midfielder who spent last season on loan at Porto, contributing 6 goals in 21 league appearances. As a football manager fan, I made him my first summer signing as Valencia manager. Can only be a matter of time before he is a regularly involved in the Spanish national team?

3. Will Hughes (Derby County). Love watching this guy play for the Rams. A central/attacking midfielder by trade, he can pick out passes to unlock defenses with his vision and hold up play. Another 20 year old, like the two footballers above, Will is instantly recognisable with his bright blonde hair. Was part of the England U21’s squad in the recent World Cup.

4. Adebayo ‘The Beast’ Akinfenwa (AFC Wimbledon). What to say about this guy? He is simply a beast. Not your typical striker. Not your typical football player really but his sheer size and strength makes him unstoppable at times. Hugely popular in the football community and on social media. Good luck to whoever is marking this man in the box. Scored 13 goals in 42 games last season for AFC Wimbledon.

5. Bojan Krkić (Stoke City). A superb buy for Stoke in 2014 from Barcelona, Bojan was (and still is) one of those players I predicted to shine in world football. Whilst Stoke might be seen as a step down in terms of club stature, he was getting more playing time in arguably the world’s toughest league – the Premier League. As a striker with pace he scored 5 goals in 18 appearances before his long-term injury last season. Here’s to hoping he has a great 15/16 campaign for The Potters.

Good luck to the players, management and coaching staff for the forthcoming season! Hope to get myself down for a game.

Biggleswade Utd were formed in 1959 and play in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division.

www.biggleswadeunited.com

@biggleswadeutd

@guillembalague

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