A thrilling day of sporting action against fierce rivals Northumbria culminated in a showpiece event at Gateshead Stadium. By the time the Rugby Union 1st teams took to the field in front of thousands of supporters Newcastle had already done enough to win the competition and establish themselves as the city’s sporting elite.
Both universities went into the day with high expectations with Newcastle looking to build on last years success and their Northumbria counterparts out for revenge. However, Newcastle were able to gain the vital points advantage with dominating displays and some shock results.
An impressive display by the swimming team stood out as an important victory alongside the earlier wins from the Skiing and Women’s Hockey 1st team.
An unexpected victory for the Netball 4th team and the Women’s Tennis team also proved vital in turning the tide in Newcastle’s favour.
There were also some nail-biting finishes throughout the day that summed up the drama that the Stan Calvert Cup has to offer.
The Netball 2nd team were desperately unlucky to lose in the last few minutes after leading for most of the game.
But in contrast the Men’s Hockey 1st team came from 3-0 down with 10 minutes to go and clinch an unbelievable 4-3 victory with the Rugby League 1st team also putting on a fantastic display to send Northumbria to another defeat.
I began the day by watching the indoor cricket event in South Gosforth. After the women’s team were beaten, the men’s 2nds produced a solid batting display to level the scores. It was then up to the men’s 1sts to seal victory in a tense final game. After the Northumbria batsmen set a target of 92 runs, Newcastle had to be at their best in front of a strong Northumbria bowling attack. Newcastle clinched the victory with 3 overs to spare after the target had looked out of reach for long periods of the game.
I then made my way to the City Pool to watch the Newcastle swimming team storm to a convincing victory. Despite losing a few individual races that they expected to win, the Royals team finished with 5 points to Northumbria's 1.
The majority of the races were extremely close and both teams were cheered on by supporters filling out the pool-side. As we reached midday, Team Newcastle received more good news as the scores came in from Tennis and Netball.
However, there was still a lot to be decided in the key events taking place in the hours remaining. The tension and excitement was getting to everybody involved, none more so than Newcastle’s Performance Sport Manager Fraser Kennedy. I took the trip to Gateshead Stadium with him and there was never a moment when he didn’t have a phone call or text message updating him on the days progress. Beating Northumbria in the Stan Calvert means everything to the Newcastle University Sports staff and Kennedy was at the forefront of every last detail of the organisation throughout the day.
Once at the stadium I watched as the Netball 2nds lost out to a last minute basket. The Northumbria team went crazy as the day was reaching the deciding hours where any result could prove to be the ultimate difference.
But the spirit of Team Newcastle was summed up in the outstanding display by the Rugby League 1st team. By the midway point of the first half they were 12-0 down and had yet to gain any kind of a foothold in the game. But true to form, the Royals battled their way back. By half time they had managed to claw their way back to a 14-10 deficit. A magnificent second half performance saw them to a 34-20 victory, playing some Rugby League football that was fit for such an occasion.
The main stand in Gateshead Stadium was now packed to bursting point as the Rugby Union 1st teams took to the field in the pinnacle of the days events. A vocal support greeted both teams and the cheerleaders were equally competitive with their dance routines (Newcastle’s strength in numbers and far superior routines taking them to a convincing moral victory!). However, despite a solid first half performance and a battling display the Royals were ultimately outclassed by Northumbria who romped to a 36-8 victory.
No doubt extremely downhearted about the result, the Royals know that the day was about a celebration of excellence in all sports. Sports that were ultimately dominated by Newcastle University.
It is another fantastic achievement on a day of which both universities can be proud. Team Newcastle steal the accolades but credit goes to both institutions for contributing to an enjoyable day of sporting achievement.
Photographs by Alexander Wilson
published on: 26th February 2009