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Blog post: staff v. student football showdown

Dr Tippu Sheriff blogs about the recent staff versus student football match in the chemistry and biochemistry department, which he and his fellow lecturers are in no way bitter about losing.  

Friendlies are meant to start with an exchange of gifts. The student team duly received a beautifully presented COSHH form with the names of various known players variously described as “harmful and “irritant”; captain Mohib was additionally described as “reactive” while Mr Rahman, infamous past president of the student Chemistry Society was described as “highly reactive”, “corrosive” and “toxic”. [Rumour has it that if Mr Rahman fails to be elected SU President this year he will join a new lucrative venture with Richard Branson selling ‘Bibles’ (compilations of answers to all chemistry problem sheets over the last 10 years)].  

The fact the students failed (as requested) to return the COSHH form duly signed by all their players before the match of course renders any subsequent result null and void. Furthermore, the student team are currently under investigation by the Health and Safety Committee for non-compliance as witnessed by Dr Huvenne who was pitch side.  Mohib of course had nothing to present to the staff team apart from a dodgy silver 50 p piece which was used to toss up (and then retained). The Staff captain tossed the coin into the air at which point Mohib cried “tails” – he was right - there must have been a “two-tailed” distribution but then objected to it not being allowed to fall to the ground as the staff captain deftly swooped it out of the air caught it and turned it over in a single move. 

However when it predictably landed on tails Mohib quickly changed his mind and decided the toss was fair and chose to start so that the bright sunshine was directly in the Staff’s goalie’s eyes in the 1st half - smart move Mohib. Dr Roessler, who was also pitch side, must have wondered how students in the 3rd year can be very selective in remembering only certain facts from her 1st year spectroscopy class! 

The game began with various battle cries from the students of “let’s get them” (for all those) “workshops”, “problem sheets” and “exams…”. Typically after a few minutes the student captain started objecting to the number of players on the pitch – 13 aside – these objections were brushed aside as the size of the pitch, goals and number of players having been carefully calculated in advance to stop the students playing any meaningful attacking game. And so it proved with the number of chances being very limited in the first 20 min and a satisfactory draw looked like the most likely result, especially with Mike in goal making some extraordinary acrobatic leaps (despite a dodgy leg) to deny the students long range efforts. 

The student team were orchestrated by Mohib and “Imran”; the latter has never been to any chemistry classes and appeared to be a semi-professional player which is foul and very “unBritish”; the inclusion of Ed, Ângelo, John, Yannic and Antonio (PG students) and Shoaib Maroof (4th year UG student) in the staff team is of course completely irrelevant. Somehow by half-time it was agreed that the score was 3-1 to the students with one of the goals from each side probably not counting if goal-line technology had been in place; another of the student goals was due to a defensive error when the goalkeeper threw the ball to the Staff captain who was ill-prepared to receive it and was trampled on as Mr Rahman took the ball off him and scored. 

The staff team used their height advantages of Chris Jones and Matteo in the 2nd half and scored to make for a gripping final 20 min with the score 3-2. With Devis, Jay and Matteo doing a sterling job in defence the students could not score while Chris Bray and Mike (now no longer in goal) had 2-3 good chances to even things up at which full-time would have been called. 

The staff team ploughed on into the twilight to score that elusive goal with extra minutes being added on to extra time as the staff captain again resorted to complex statistics to work how long would be required to achieve this – he could do this contemplation as left back as the student team seemed to have completely forgotten that there was a rhs to the pitch which was devoid of any attacking threat. As dusk fell and Stellios disappeared below the horizon, various players were falling over and falling over each other, tackles became more aggressive and there were blue sirens wailing as several ambulances passed by (but none stopped to pick up prostrate players). 

The game ended with another defence error that allowed the student team to score a 4th goal. As we shook hands, the sun had been replaced by a bright star in the Western sky. “It’s Venus” said Mike. We took this as a sign that despite a bruising match love prevails and we all embraced. As our legs ached that night and into the weekend (with wives and partners helpfully reminding us that we had to endure all that pain and didn’t even win!) we contemplated on the two soft goals given away, but that our efforts were not perhaps in vain and that the numerous staff and students in audience at the hallowed turf in Carlton Square Gardens were suitably entertained. Amongst them were some 4th year UG students taking copious notes in anticipation of their duel with us scheduled for Friday 31st March when this time it may be Mars that makes an appearance in the Western sky.

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