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 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 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.

 

Getting to Know You: Stevie Grieve

“The best thing about McDiarmid Park was the Blue Popcorn and Dotty Bars”.

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Stevie Grieve. Tea drinking ma…wait a minute…

The summer holidays. Mug of tea in hand. Time for a new webisode (that’s a word right?) or our ‘popular’ Getting to Know You series. This time we’ve gone all out sports on you. We’re privileged to have professional footballer and maturer coach/analyst Stevie Grieve. No wait, we got that the wrong way round. We’ve got amateur footballer and professional coach/analyst Stevie Grieve.

Why is he a pro? Well plenty of that is answered below. 13 years of coaching, having worked in 4 countries and proud to be the “youngest head coach in Switzerland in the AVCF 4eme Ligue in 2012″ at the ripe old age of 25. Oh and did we tell you he has done tv punditry for TenSports as a top analyst. His pre-match notes are heavily annotated. His knowledge of tactics is second to none. We think we’re pretty good at Football Manager but we feel as though we’d get our butt kicked if we played Stevie!

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Stevie has yet to confirm if his video diaries titled ‘Stevie’s Suits’ will ever see the light of day.

Now he’s off to Canada to join Burlington Soccer as Coach Development Manager. One things for sure though, he’ll be spreading the joy of good tea. Here’s 10 questions we put to him.


1. Hi Stevie. What’s 6 + 8?

It could be 68, it could be 14. Philosophically, what is the meaning of 6, or even 8? It’s a question i ask myself daily.

2. Fantastic. Clearly you’re a tea drinker and on the ball, so to speak (unless you answered that wrong in which case this interview is over you closet coffee drinker you!). Where do we find you in the world and are you drinking tea?

Im in Perth, Scotland today, but im moving to Burlington, Ontario, Canada on Tuesday. Yeah, im always drinking tea! I think i’ll have some Maple Leaf tea over there instead of my usual Scottish blend i have here.

3. We kind of already know the answer to this question but for the rest of our followers can you state what your favourite tea is?

Im a big fan of Corson vanilla tea from Mauritius. I had it on honeymoon there and wasn’t sure about it initially. It was kinda like when you have a big mouthful of Cola then before you swallow, you eat a Flump.

You know you weren’t sure if you liked it but you’ll do it again just to check.
I like it really dark, with a dribble of milk sometimes.

It tastes like sugary tea so if you’re on a diet its a good start. Its on ebay i think for about $5 for 25 bags.

4. As a man who travels between Scotland and India a fair few times, what’s best: Drinking tea in Scotland made with top quality soft Scottish water or simply drinking tea in the home of tea; India?

Oft, tough question! The water makes a huge difference, but if you offered me pure Indian tea in Scottish soft water, i’d go with that. Indian Tea is pretty much sugary milk, though.

5. Yourself and #teaclub M happen to support the same football team – St. Johnstone. Last time M was there the tea wasn’t all that bad. Where’s the best ground you’ve enjoyed a cup of tea?

We do! The best thing about McDiarmid Park was the Blue Popcorn and Dotty Bars. I dunno if they do them anymore though.

The tea was probably some cheap rubbish there and i wasn’t keen on it so i had Bovril (its rank), but i would say that i really liked the tea at the home stadium of Garhwal FC, Ambedkar Stadium in Delhi.

Proper Delhi Chai, enough sugar to get rid of the water taste but not enough to give you diabetes.

6. Having seen your tweets and some clips of you on YouTube for Ten Sports, it’s fair to say you’re passionate about the game and in particular, the analysis side of things. Did you play at any level and if not, how did you get into the media as an analyst?

I didn’t play at a high level, and certainly not anything worth mentioning. Im not even sure if some levels of professional football even count towards being able to claim you “know” the game!

I played youth football and some amateur games until i was 18, but much preferred Futsal which i played from 15-21.

Futsal suits me more than 11v11 with a tactically incompetent coach and mostly clueless team mates making me chase long balls or not playing through midfield. I’m not a 2nd ball kinda guy, which isn’t good in Scottish amateur football.

I stopped playing as i didn’t enjoy playing football, and wanted to concentrate on coaching.

I’ve been a coach for 13 years, I’ve worked in 4 countries and was the youngest head coach in Switzerland in the AVCF 4eme Ligue in 2012 at 25.

Again, I was the youngest Head Coach in India at 27 in 2014 when i coached in the I-League 2.

I got into analysis from being bored and having 6 weeks to kill between moving from Scotland to Switzerland, so i wrote some analysis for World Class Coaching which was on Sergio Busquets. From there, it was made into an e-book, then i wrote some analysis pieces, then wrote a best selling book called Coaching the 4-2-3-1, then it snowballed.

When i moved to India, i was using analysis and studying to help educate myself to educate my coaches, then after i coached Garhwal in the I-League 2, i was asked to do a 4 show trial with TenSports by RK Sreenivasan.

From the 1st show, I was comfortable with the surroundings, the presenter’s questions and felt like i deserved to be there more than most people with the analysis things i could offer and opinions on players and teams, give context etc.

4 shows turned into the end of the season, then another, then another, then my own TV show!

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Stevie likes to make notes about football games. Lots of notes. Answers on a postcard please.

7. Have you ever spilled a mug of tea in the studio?

Hahaha! Shhh… not inside but yeah, in the corridor.

Actually, the lassie from NDTV who was walking past and saw me drop it then looking guilty while trying to get a mop over it was in hysterics walking into her studio just before she had to do a live report on flooding.

The irony.

8. We’ve an idea but just how big is tea drinking in India? What are the differences compared to our tradition of having a teabag in a mug?

Everyone drinks sugary Chai, in little 50 ml cups, which is pure sugar with a fair whack of spices etc in it. Its nice i like it but with much less sugar. They’ll have the water, spices and leafs boiling with milk and sugar all day, mixing it and pouring, while we have it fresh. I suppose everyone is different but while people would ask for a  £2.50 Coffee here, they go to the Chai wallah and get 5 cups for 25p.

9. Last couple of questions now. If you could drink tea with anyone in the world, who would it be and where would this meeting take place? Kettle’s on Stevie. We’ve got chocolate digestives. Nudge nudge.

Aww man, just one? I’ll give 2. Can i? I have a large packet, and who eats a whole packet of biscuits even with a tag team partner? They’ll just go to waste so I’ll invite an extra person because a whole pack of chocolate digestives is alot for only 2 people. At least they’ll get finished.

I’d have my meeting in a tent in the highlands with Lucy Verasamy; the weather girl from ITV.

She’d know exactly when it was time to come out because she has weather reading superpowers.

A cup of tea in the rain in a tent would go down a treat. I like listening to rain.

I’d probably invite Rachel Riley aswell; you’d get battered at scrabble but at least you could play all day until you win while drinking tea. Imagine beating Rachel Riley and Lucy the weathergirl at Scrabble before going out for a game of Man Hunt in the highlands with a flask of tea?

10. A big of a challenge for you. Last year we came up with a Tea XI. 11 footballers with a tea themed name (e.g. David Teaman). Make a brew and give us your own Tea XI. We’ll compare it to ours and perhaps put it to a Twitter vote. No pressure now.

Jose Luis CHAIlavert (Paraguay GK)
 
Phillip Lahmbarrie (Nambarrie)
Nicolas OTEAmendi (Otamendi)
Paolo MalTEAni (Maldini)
 
Clarence CEYLONdorf (Seedorf)
Emmanuele PeTEALEAF (Manu Petit)
Emmanuel TETLEY (Tetteh ex Norwich)
Martyn WAGHBAKRIhorn (Waghorn)
Diego DILMAHradona (Maradona)
Olivier GirOOLONG (Giroud)
Antoine TEAzmann (Griezmann)

This is quite a strong team. Like how i like my tea. Strong.

Ed: Does it beat our completely different Tea XI?
I4Fmt

Chairman: Roman Assamovic.


Cheers Stevie. Best wishes to yourself and your family in Canada.

#teaclub

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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