Living in a town where the nearest football league team play some 30 miles away (and are rooted to the bottom of League 1, I might add), the opportunities to watch live sport on a whim are limited to drunken darts matches on Friday nights in The Royal. Our teams often struggle to fill their sheets with eligible players, and the ones that do are obliged to pay their staff wages that create North East Essex’s answer to the mercenary filled Chinese Super League, where the badges that are kissed with most passion are those embroidered with the finest stitching.
Since I first stepped foot on the hallowed turf of Cryfield over two years ago, however, it is safe to say that during term time my cravings for the excitement that only close proximity to sporting excellence can satisfy have been well looked after. The sheer scale and variety of what’s on offer for the spectator is unmatched in its concentration almost anywhere else in the country, as a (relatively) short walk across campus can have you swapping rugby for tennis and back again in just a few short minutes, and never have I had a wasted Wednesday afternoon.
The number of lifelong friendships born and nurtured on the skiddy surface of the Desso Hall are impossible to count and will continue to do so for as long as the mutation from university to full corporate playground takes to reach completion.
Whilst the pressures of a degree, stresses of job-hunting and often underplayed difficulties of simply being 18-21 has the potential to make this a difficult time for any student, all of these seem to wash away once the whistle is blown for every Warwick team. In my entire experience of watching and reporting on university sport, I have never seen a limp or passionless performance where a looming deadline is etched on the faces of the players, as the collective pride of being a part of something bigger encourages everyone to do their bit for the team without any prospect of financial reward.
Though never having been fortunate enough to play competitive university sport myself, the comradery and togetherness that belonging to a club nurtures oozes out of all those who do is clear to see. Training, playing and competing to sing the loudest during circling takes a significant level of commitment that is by no means easy to sustain, but I have never had a conversation with a student athlete where they have had a negative word to say about their experiences. The number of lifelong friendships born and nurtured on the skiddy surface of the Desso Hall are impossible to count and will continue to do so for as long as the mutation from university to full corporate playground takes to reach completion.
I will miss sport at Warwick more than Tiger Woods misses the turn of the millennium.
This year’s Varsity tournament may have been the closest in recent memory, but this only added to the feeling of pride that each and every one of us involved on campus, from captains to chanters, could take from the remarkable achievement of extending an incredible run of victories for what has become all of our homes. When our backs were against the wall and it looked like our cross city neighbours finally had our number, this was when an entire university housing thousands of people found another gear, and embracing a stranger as a goal went in with a tenderness not even reserved for lovers became the only reasonable action.
Though the lingering, gut-wrenching spectre of the “what are you going to do after you graduate?” question has forced me to think long and hard about my pursuit of a career in journalism, I will miss sport at Warwick more than Tiger Woods misses the turn of the millennium. Somehow I don’t think the regulars in The Royal will take too kindly to my shouts of “Smash the Poly”, nor my pleas for them to add a substantial glug of blackcurrant cordial to my pint. Thanks, Warwick, it’s been a blast.