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National Glory for Brighton


The University of Brighton Men’s Futsal second team, based in Eastbourne, battled to national glory recently by winning the BUCS Futsal 2011-12 Trophy. 

In a truly breathtaking final, Brighton finally claimed a 6-3 victory over a brave University of Gloucestershire side after extra-time. 

Despite Brighton comfortably leading 2-0, courtesy of goals from Jack Butterfield and Jeff Marshman, Gloucestershire turned the game on its head with three quick-fire second-half goals.

Incredibly, with just 13 seconds remaining, Brighton were awarded a lifeline as a Gloucestershire player was penalised for handball in the area. Sam Goodfellow showed incredible bottle to score the resultant penalty and force the tie into added-time. 

The Panthers then used the impetus to finally run away deserved winners. Lewis Smith’s goal reinstated their lead before Adem Mehmet’s double gave the rejuvenated Brighton side the victory their valiant efforts deserved. 

The Championships, held at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield and played over a period of two days, are the biggest stage for university futsal. A host of university teams from up and down the country all battle it out to be rightfully crowned national champions. 

While Brighton celebrated their pulsating Trophy triumph, the University of Teeside ended up victorious in the equally extraordinary Men’s Championship final, edging past Bath 4-3. In the Women’s Championship final, the University of Durham ran out 4-2 winners after extra time following another epic encounter against Northumbria. 

It is a fantastic achievement for the Eastbourne-based Brighton team considering they only formed three years ago under the guidance of Brighton and Hove Albion Youth Coach Ashley Dyer. Dyer created the team with a three-year plan to win the Championships and after a lot of hard-work on and off the pitch, they have incredibly achieved this goal. 

Dyer explained: “In the first year we set out just to start up and get used to the game, while in the second year we aimed to qualify for the Championships and just compete, using the experience gained from it to win it in the third year. 

“It is a phenomenal achievement and one that we as a club are extremely proud of.”

After waltzing through the group stages with comfortable victories over Loughborough 2nds (8-2), York 1sts (3-1) and Manchester 1sts (9-2), many thought Brighton would thrash their inconsistent opponents in the final. But that wasn’t to be as Gloucestershire proved more than a match for the Panthers, coming within 13 seconds of victory. 

However, Brighton went on to show incredible team spirit and character to come back and win a game that they were one kick of the ball away from losing, something that drew particular praise from proud skipper Harry Williams.

“I am on top of the world right now, I can’t praise the boys enough for their efforts, every single one of them should be ecstatic at what they have achieved. Knowing that all that hard work leading up to the tournament has paid off and to win in the manner we did, I couldn’t be more proud,” said Williams.

This same team, with near enough the same group of players, lost every game at this stage last year, proving just how far they have come in such a short space of time. 

Meanwhile, the Brighton Men’s Futsal first team, based in Falmer, had to settle for fourth place in the Championship following a narrow 4-3 defeat to Teeside in their final group game to decide who entered the final. The Brighton Girl’s team endured a disappointing tournament, losing all of their group matches. However, they did restore some pride by beating Bristol 3-2 in the 7th/8th place play-off. 

With several England players on show at the tournament, including Sam Murphy of the Brighton first team, William Rooke and Neil Morgon of Loughborough and Jason Kilbride of Teeside, surely some of the English scouts will not be able to overlook some of the current Brighton second team players. After all, it is quite hard to go from being nobodies to national champions in three years without being noticed.

Will Ridgard

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