ALEX ALJOE commends Durham’s complete domination and destruction of Loughborough this season, proving their golden glory to be a thing of the past.
As we all know, Durham is one of the top sporting universities in the country, a sporting powerhouse, brimming with world-class athletes. Most outsiders, yet to a pay a visit to the all magical sounding “Maiden Castle”, would assume that our teams train at ultra modern, state of the art facilities, with the grass on the pitches as green as at Wembley. “MC”, a term our sport’s centre has been reduced to over the years, is a far cry from these unrealistic expectations. Nevertheless, this year we have seen a radical and revolutionary transformation, a desperate attempt to rid “The Graham Sports Centre” of it’s horrific reputation as quite frankly, a hole.
Arriving as a fresher last year, I had high hopes of what magnificent facilities awaited me at this ‘all sporting’ university, where 90.2% of the students take part in sport. It is more than understandable that I thought we had driven to the wrong place when we were presented with what looked more like ‘Porta cabin Village’ than a Sports Centre. The reception was a porta cabin, the physio rooms were porta cabins, we awkwardly had to show opposition to match tea in a porta cabin and worst of all, the loos were porta cabins (which you always got locked in.) The director of Sport assured me that the 6.7 million pound project to refurbish and develop facilities at Maiden Castle would be completed by Christmas.
Christmas came by soon enough and everything looked pretty much the same. It was not only the facilities that were lacking, but also the technical and managerial departments. I distinctly remember watching the floodlit rugby semi final last year. Hild Bede vs Cuths. A massive game. Just before half time we were plunged into darkness as the floodlights went out- apparently somebody had pushed the wrong button back in head quarters. This was an extremely embarrassing moment for all those involved at Maiden Castle and definitely not an isolated occasion. Did Will Greenwood stand for this sort of shi*t when he was here?!
Double bookings of the rubber crumb are also common occurrences. Is it really that hard to organise? Also, why do the prisoners get priority on the rubber crumb? Turning up to training and having to wait politely for invalids dressed in high visibility vests to finish really isn’t ideal especially when we ask them to move and the retort is ‘we don’t move until we’re kicked off’. Would this really happen at Loughborough?
Nevertheless, arriving back for preseason this year, we were all immensely shocked. Maiden Castle had clearly undergone a serious makeover. ‘Are we finally rid of the horrors of it’s inadequate past? Could MC have finally turned a corner?’ were the sort of questions echoing around MC in early September. World-class facilities? Far from. But most definitely, an immense improvement. The perks of the multi-million pound refurbishment were evident for the first time, only a year after they should have been. It now has a powered indoor rowing tank (as seen in the Social Network), one of only 3 in the UK, a world-class fencing piste (don’t get too excited), squash courts and a performance analysis suite. The gym has sadly, stayed pretty much the same, although more machines mean it is just a tiny bit more claustrophobic than it already was.
The new bar and restaurant is a particular highlight for me. As a fresher, I missed most meals due to training so I am very envious of this year’s fresh meat who are entitled to a gourmet breakfast, lunch and dinner, courtesy of those kind hearts at MC. In addition, our Sports Centre now boasts a variety of classes- Step, Boxercise, Circuits, Pilates, Fitball and Abs, Zumba and Virtual X biking. I tried the latter last week and I would highly recommend it. It is almost like a video game, you are able to steer your £750 state of the art bike in a pitch-black room, following the route that is projected onto the wall in front of you. These classes are a great way to get fit and have fun at the same time and the "Progress Tracker" card they offer means that every time you complete 10 classes you get 1 completely free! What a great way to keep you motivated….
So, taking all of this into consideration, have we finally been given what we deserve? A half decent sports centre to accompany all our prestigious titles and achievements over the years. I think the answer is YES. Although, is a swimming pool really too much to ask?Loughborough’s reputation as an “all-sporting powerhouse”, brimming with its internationals and gold medals, seems to be fading for the first time thanks to our very own athletes.
Our 1st XV rugby team made a laughing stock of their opposition when they travelled to Loughborough this season. The home team did us the honour of making it their game of the day, of reporting the fixture on their web for the week before the game, playing at 6.30 under floodlights and attracting a crowd of well over 1,000. And did they regret this?! Durham made sure they did with a casual 44-14 domination. One member of DURFC states, 'it was advertised as THE BIG MATCH…all that was BIG was the Durham score.’
Earlier this month, Durham’s hockey boys took on the reigning national champions, a side full of internationals, and still came away with a shell shocking 5-1 victory. This is the biggest defeat that Loughborough have ever had at home. Chins. A DUHC player remarked after the game, ‘Were they John Snow in disguise?’ I think that says it all really.
The hockey girls kept this winning streak going with a convincing 2-1 defeat of the old enemy, as did the lacrosse girls, demolishing a weak and feeble looking Loughborough side 17-3. Their performance both on and off the pitch at this game was quite frankly, embarrassing. To quote a conversation I overheard between some Loughborough boys on the sidelines, ‘Mate she’s giving you evils, I’d watch it, she has a stick’. ‘Well I have a fist’ was the retort. Really, really strong from them- no wonder they’re all doing sports degrees there.
I could go on forever listing our teams that have annihilated Loughborough this year- both men’s and women’s tennis teams gave them a smashing, as did badminton, basketball and our cyclists. At a recent competition our women’s hill cycling team won Gold while Loughborough had to settle for the dull and murky shade of bronze. I do hope they like this colour because we’ve proved that their golden days are long gone.
If you ever happen to find yourself wandering around their very own merchandise shop you may be lucky enough to spot one of the T shirts which says, ‘When I grow up I want to graduate at Loughborough University.’ ‘SAUSAGE’ was the response of two of our lacrosse players to that ridiculous statement (see below). “Sporting Powerhouse” I hear you say? Durham thinks not.
Most likely to be wearing: their sexy little number…
Most likely to be eating: Nothing. (No one wants to be put at the bottom of the pyramid.)
Most likely to be drinking: a lot of fluid to replace all that is lost in sweat. It is a highly intense and tiring sport.
Most likely college to be in: John Snow.
Most likely to be reading: upside down.
Most likely item to grab in a fire: Their pompoms.
Most likely chat up line: ‘I am a DD’
Most likely to get away with: charging people to hire them for private events! (if you fancy having them at your 21st, see their website www.freewebs.com/durhamdivas for more details )
Most likely school to have attended: Good schools don’t have cheer squads.
Most likely relationship status: ‘It’s Complicated’ with a member of the Saints American football team. Yes. We have an American football team. Of sorts.
Most likely to be out on a: ……..? Has anyone ever seen a DD social?
Most likely place to be found on a night out: straddling their 'Saint' on a sofa in one of the booths in Studio. They say practice makes perfect.
Most likely quote: ‘We are professional athletes. Why do we get no funding from the University? '
Most likely song to have on their iPOD: The ‘Bring it On’ Soundtrack, ‘I'm sexy, I'm cute, I'm popular to boot…’
Most likely to be studying: One of the Stockton specialities.
Most likely to refuse to: abstain from participating in the half time performance at Durham’s charity rugby game despite the inevitable assault on their dignity
Most likely to be kicked out of the club for: forgetting the routine mid performance. Now THAT would be embarrassing…
Most likely to be eating: a pre-match muffin (for energy) AND a post-match muffin (a well-deserved reward).
Most likely to be drinking: Powerade Lite (On 'Red Alert' due a really tough game next week)
Most likely college to be in: Collingwood (where?)
Most likely to be reading: I can make you thin, Paul McKenna
Most likely item to grab in a fire: anything but a fire extinguisher
Most likely chat up line: "We're not all lesbians…"
Most likely to get away with: having thunder thighs… all good hockey players have them.
Most likely school to have attended: Repton
Most likely relationship status: Recently single after cheating on a long term boyfriend with a fellow member of women's hockey.
Most likely to be out on a: Social, dressed as vegetables in the library, crazy!!
Most likely place to be found on a night out: See above
Most likely quote: "I can't, I have hockey"
Most likely song to have on their IPOD: Katy Perry- I kissed a girl
Most likely to be studying: MA in Marketing and Management (apparently a desmond in Sport doesn't quite cut it)
Most likely to refuse to: Admit they are DUHC sausages
Most likely to be kicked out of the club for: Spending an inordinate length of time in the communal showers post match…