Interview: Lewis Treacy

After an excellent past season, which ended in Varsity victory, the first team reaching the MUL cup final and attaining promotion to the Midland’s 1A league, the Warwick Men’s Football Club has every reason to be optimistic for the new academic year.

Club Captain Lewis Treacy, an Economics finalist, reflects on the recent achievements: “We got promoted last year, which was a fantastic achievement, but now we have to show we mean business. We’re playing against the likes of Oxford, Nottingham 1sts and Loughborough 2nds. If we get promoted again, which would be a big ask but not totally out of reach, we’d be travelling all over England.”

To prepare for the new season, the team returned a week early for fitness work and some friendlies to get in shape for the new season. “Obviously people are a bit rusty to begin with, getting back from a long summer break, where they were working, doing internships, things like that. The week we got back, we did a bit of running and fitness work and we were in with the gym staff. There’s been a big effort from Warwick Sport with the sports focus clubs to give us fitness sessions, strength and conditioning work, so I think we’re in good shape. It’ll make a big difference over the course of the season.”

The first team disappointingly lost 3-0 in a friendly against a strong Cambridge side, who despite playing a division below the Warwick 1st team were much further ahead in their pre-season schedule. Treacy concurs that results aren’t that important during pre-season, stating: “Overall, we’ve played a lot of in-house games. We get a lot of freshers in as you can imagine and we need to have a real good look at these players, instead of playing typical pre-season friendlies, which we do do, as we need to see how the squad takes shape. It’s important to see where they land as we have four teams. But our first Bucs games were this past Wednesday.” The first team played the University of East Anglia, losing 1-0 after a long journey to Norwich.

Despite this setback, the team should be competitive, having only lost on penalties in the Midlands University League Cup final to Nottingham 1sts last season, who also face them this year in the league. The team dominated the game but couldn’t convert territory into goals. “We were unlucky as we were on top for large parts of the game. Hopefully we’ll do well in that competition this season but I think we’re really concentrating on Bucs this year.”

Regarding training throughout the year, Treacy elaborates on the sessions for all four teams: “The third and fourth teams have a Monday evening session with Terry Angus, the former Fulham and Nuneaton defender, along with Phil Shaley, both of whom are really good at motivating the players.”

As for the first and second teams, they have a painful 7am start on Mondays. Treacy recognises the sacrifices that have to be made to ensure a competitive team: “You get pretty tired as the day goes on but it just goes back to that professional approach, you have to eat healthily, sleep well the night before.”

Treacy feels that the arrival of football coach and director of Warwick Sport James Ellis last year has a lot to do with the recent success at the club. “He’s brought new tactics and a new mentality to the squad. I’d just say that all four teams are now looking more professional. It feels more like a football club now, compared to previous years, where it seemed more a social club. We still do the social side, with circles on Wednesdays but now on the pitch we’re more of a well-oiled machine than ever before.”

Ellis’ introduction of a successful albeit direct style was defended well by Treacy: “Obviously we want to play the best football we can play, but we have to think about how we can attain the best results against the teams we’re going to be facing this season. You also have to think about whether we have the players to play in this way.

“Last season, we did play quite a direct style, and it did work for us as we got promoted. This year, we’ve moved a little away from that style, in trying to play a little more attractive football. We’re going to be playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, with two holding midfielders and three creative ones, floating around in-behind the lone striker.”

Treacy also responded well to accusations of a sense of nepotism regarding selection at trials for most university sports teams. “Sometimes players become friends with squad members by playing in the Ernst & Young leagues (formerly the KPMG leagues), but by no means does this affect our decision. I’ve got friends who tried out this year but didn’t make the cut. We discuss it in a democratic forum where we all vote on players at the end of the day but I have the final say if a general decision can’t be made. Each squad member is in charge of a set of the trials.

“It’s difficult as we have three hundred of players to look at. I have so many e-mails the week after from people who haven’t quite made the cut asking how they can stay in contention and get involved throughout the year. We try to do what we can but the spaces in the squad only allow for a select number of people.

“The trials are a tough procedure as you have to get through the first day, the second day and then those who were still on the borderline had to play again last Thursday. I, myself, didn’t get through the trials in my first year and I’ve ended up in quite a good position [laughs], so people shouldn’t feel disheartened. This season we’ve deliberately undersubscribed our membership, and brought in 75% of the number we wanted to leave a gap for other promising players we come across through the year to come in.”

History has shown that positional changes and general good form have led to call-ups over the course of the year. “Sometimes players get into the team by playing in a position they feel they aren’t really suited to. For example, I’m playing at right-back this year, having always played in central midfield.”

When asked about the quality of this year’s intake, Treacy said, “We’ve had a more international feel, including a Spaniard called Javier Hernandez. He’s a very sharp, creative, technically good player, and I think he was once on the books of Valencia CF. We’ve also brought in a Dutch winger/forward called Nick Muelenbrook, who’s very quick. It’s great that we have a more diverse range of nationalities to better represent the students at Warwick.”

Having taken over from previous Club Captain Leo Harris, Treacy will hope to continue the football club’s recent success on and off the pitch, with the football club winning ‘Club of the Year’ at last year’s Sports Ball, with their charity work also recognised. Treacy summed it up best when he said, “We want to do the same this year, and not just for the sake of it, but because we want to give the most that we can back to the university.”


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