Bad Blood in College Football

Bruising tackles and nightclub scuffles: college football’s biggest feud.

‘They’re all twats.’  Jesus’ James Taylor’s cordial verdict on this year’s League Champions Downing is far from a lone voice after one of the most bitter and bad-blooded title chases in Cambridge history. Jesus College in particular, narrowly pipped to the title for the second year running have spread word of the ‘Downing Divers’.

Jesus may have put Downing out of cuppers on penalties but one can’t help but sense a sour and envious tone. Downing certainly had the last laugh, winning the league on home soil; thrashing Jesus 3-1 in a convincing display.  ‘Weak mentally and physically’ was Downing’s Deniss Radcenko’s dismissive verdict.

Downing may be ‘Divers’ but Jesus have developed an unsavoury reputation for referee-haranguing as well as a habit of reacting to mis-timed tackles with neanderthal outbursts reminiscent of Rooney’s tantrums.

Come next season after a whole summer of simmering resentment, Downing v. Jesus should, well, prove ‘a bit tasty’. For some, however, the on-field 90 minutes is but a side-show to the real evidence of masculinity. Jesus’ Ronald Rees boasts of his repeated ‘roughing up of that whinging little bald fella in Cindies [a Downing boy]’ and this is held up by his ‘firm’ as a sign of true prowess in the rivalry.

Night-club confrontation seems to have replaced the old-fashioned values of grace in victory and magnanimity in defeat this year, with Downing the common denominator. Deposed Champions Trinity’s low opinion of their usurpers stems particularly from the sight of the Downing boys ‘giving it’ post-match in Life, as well as the ill-advised touting of college football ‘stash’.

While the Jesus-Downing rivalry may assume the ‘Grand Slam Sunday’ mantle, Trinity’s players, many of whom are familiar with the taste of league success and associated celebrity-status from 2008, will return next year motivated both by a desire to regain their crown as well as a fair degree of personal dislike. Next year’s captain and epitome of the ‘no-nonsense centre back’ Rich Falder plans a new regime akin to George Graham’s Arsenal. The noble Wengerian idealism of his predecessor Dany Gammall is out; hard grind back in. Falder has said he will not tolerate the opposition ‘giving it.’

Girton and St John’s finished  4th and 2nd respectively last season. Surely the bookies cannot write off either team but the failure of their respective captains to forward a statement of intent seems perhaps symptomatic of a lack of belief that they can mingle with the big boys.

Next year’s fight for the title, ‘fight’ perhaps a prophetic term, is shaping up to be a blockbuster. Advice to any non-footballers of a civilised disposition: unless the sight of bad college ‘stash’ and attempted re-enactments of ‘The Football Factory’ are your idea of post-formal cabaret, pencil in Downing’s fixtures next year and make sure that evening it’s La Raza or Ta Bouche rather than Life or Cindies.