University Football is Flourishing

There has been a beacon for University Football this season and that has been Loughborough Students who have reached the quarter finals of the F.A.Vase and play Wythenshawe Town at home on the 12th March. They are only two wins away from Wembley when if they get there they say they will paint it purple. I decided to go and see them play at home to Eastwood Community FC on Saturday in the United Counties Premier Division North to see what was going on.

First you have to get past one of two campus gates to see an amazing University with indoor and outdoor sports facilities to die for. It is around a one square mile area and has always been known to me as the best sporting University in the country. But these days there are around 20000 students that not only excel at sport but many other degrees of which Business Studies is one of their prime offerings.

We parked in a very leafy car park walking past the beach volleyball area and in the distance the Steve Beckley javelin building that looks like a modern train station where you can launch your javelin under cover, Wow.

The University Stadium was opened in 2012 but still looks like it was last week. This is Non-league heaven with a beautiful stand down one side incorporating changing rooms, and a plush hospitality area for all up stairs where you enter the seats or look out on the pitch while having a drink or eating your pie. There is standing on three other side and to cater for the Quarter Final they are going to install a fans zone on the hard standing pitch behind the open side. There is an electronic score board and a perfectly flat pitch that is grass and looked after by a Wizard who has presented a lawn that would not be out of place for a bowls team.

There are records of a team called Loughborough Technical Institute as far back as 1919 and a year later they became a College of Technology and a University in 1966. They have won University Trophy’s on many occasions in their history.

In recent years they have re-entered the non-league football world in the Midlands. Initially in the Midland Combination in 2007 and then the Midland Alliance and as founder members of the Midland Football League in 2014. With recent seasons being curtailed and with the team being highly placed the restructure of the leagues has seen them placed in the United Counties Premier Division North. At the start of this new era they have changed their name from Loughborough University to Loughborough Students a name they now use across all of their team sports for both Men and Women.

Eastwood Community FC have only been in existence since 2014 when they took on the mantle of football in the town after Eastwood Town folded. Eastwood Town had reached as high as the Northern Premier League. Community play at Haltbrooke Stadium, a modern facility with a 3g pitch. The Stadium also has great hospitality rooms to allow for a good income stream from off pitch activities. They have risen through the Central Midland League and are now placed in the United Counties League. They look certain to be contenders in this league in the future.

Loughborough Students 2 Eastwood Community 0

26th February 2022 3pm Loughborough University

United Counties Premier Division North

The Scholars v The Red Badgers

Purple shirts and shorts with pink shoulder stripe v Red shirts and white shorts

The first quarter of the game was very equal as it had been when the teams fought out a draw in an early round of this season’s F.A. Vase that had to be decided on penalties.

Just as Eastwood were beginning to get on top the Students hit the post and cross bar in a flurry of activity on 18 minutes. The game continued to see saw and Ben Whiting in the Loughborough goal (later to be named man of the match) flipped a header that had been powered down by Kyle Stovell of Eastwood up onto the bar and away.

At half time it was all square with a talented home team matched by a well disciplined and organised Eastwood.

Loughborough came out in the second half with all guns blazing but Eastwood kept their cool until the 66th minute when Dylan Edwards placed the ball along the ground into the left hand corner of the net from a position in the centre of the goal.

With Loughborough one goal up they continued pressure to make it 2 nil in the 82nd minute when Tope Fadahunsi’s pass was controlled by Cam More who spun and hit a bullet shot across the diving Warren Squires the Eastwood goal keeper.

The 162 fans left happy after a good competative game in fantastic facilities.

No chips unfortunately but a tasty Chicken Pie.

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