I thought my girlfriend was shaking my shoulders, screaming when Biggleswade Utd scored but when I turned round it was Guillem Balague!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Could we hold on?
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.
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.
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