With just over a month to go before the M1 Football teams of Northumbria and Newcastle University go head to head in the 2016 Stan Calvert finale at Gateshead International Stadium.
Due to kick-off on Sunday March 6 at 7.45pm, the finale was the subject of much discussion during Tuesday’s Stan Calvert press conference at Sport Central, with Team Northumbria football captain Ross McKeown anticipating an exciting climax to this year’s competition.
“Playing at Gateshead Stadium is going to help add to the excitement and the sense of the occasion,” he said.
“It’s my third Stan Calvert and I’m still surprised and impressed by the sheer intensity and excitement that surrounds the competition.”
With last year’s match ending in a 1-1 draw, captains of both sides are anticipating another tight affair next month.
“It’s a one-off game so anything can happen,” McKeown added.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity to showcase our talent more than anything else – having it as the final fixture is just going to bring an extra sense of competition as well.”
Newcastle captain Tom Espin said: “We know that we’ll be going in as underdogs since they (TN) are in the division above us.
“But while I’ve been here we’ve won one and drawn one so I think we’ve got it all to play for.”
The previous Stan Calvert finale took place at Sport Central with the Northumbria and Newcastle netball teams going against each other.
But with Northumbria having already wrapped up the competition several hours earlier, the event proved to be nothing more than a formality despite TN grabbing a last second 33-32 victory at Sport Central.
However, Newcastle’s Sport Union Officer Angus Taylor is hoping for a closer contest this time around.
“I think this years is going to be more competitive than in the past,” he said.
“Last year (TN) absolutely smashed us – the competition was wrapped up by midday on the Sunday so not as many people showed up (to the netball) as we would have liked – we’re hoping it will be different this time around.
“Both universities are in the top 10 of the BUCS League so you know we’re putting top level sport on show. We’re hoping that putting football as the final fixture will create a bit of a spectacle.”
TN Sport President Brogan O’Connor also feels changing the finale to football could help attract more support all around.
“We’ve changed the finale to give other sports that might otherwise not get as much limelight the opportunity to draw those big home crowds.
“People want to come and see a competition that hasn’t been won yet and so hopefully the final day will maintain the competitive nature.”
By Dom Scurr