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Rhapsody in Bloom - The Tournament


And so it began amongst men. One clean, crisp Sunday morning, on one fine April day, and with the exuberance of Spring prevalent and accommodation banners waving in unison; football player and fan alike gathered together and gazed in wonder as a re-enactment of Camus’ philosophic declaration played out in the arena of morality of the football lawn.

All I know most surely about morality and the obligations of men, I owe to football.
– Albert Camus, circa 1955.

April is the cruellest month, losing!
– Anon. Crystal Phallus fan, 19th April, 2015.

A grand day out! Wouldn’t miss it for all the whiskey in Ireland!
– Captain; Paddy Power, April, 2015.

 With flyers sent, team sheets verified, donations collected, an uninspiring General Election looming over, and the eternal promise of libation, now was the time to determine who would claim the ancient ceremonial rite to be inaugurated as Inter-Halls Tournament Champions!

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After the frenetic pace of the group stages with quality football displayed in unequivocally honourable spirit, the competition dwindled down to four teams gravitating towards that inevitable impetus to immortality. Such restlessness was intermittently punctuated by ethereal moments of the sun beaming down majestically and adorning the pitch with a transcendent golden-amber iridescence reminiscent of some Ed Hopper canvas.

The 3rd/4th place play-off was a meeting between two contrasting sides of hearts and minds; everybody’s favourite custodians of University Accommodation facilities management UPP and their entry Scoring fo’ Fun battling it out with the pseudo-feminist moniker outfit Exeter Gently (who did everything but…no doubt). Perhaps as recompense for general student follies at their sites, Scoring fo’ Funexacted revenge in the name of exonerated UPP Field Officers of bygone days by winning 3-2 in a closely contested penalty shootout.4

Following on from this, the emphatic final proved to be an existential Ur-text of absurdist footballing drama Camus would have waxed lyrical over. After controlling most of the game, Abulaban’s Army gifted the coveted 2015 title to the ironically named Masters of Our Own Destiny by scoring an unfortunate own goal! Tribute must also be bestowed to the Player of the Tournament; Bayren Haze goalkeeper Joe Botchin whom with colossal Sisyphus-like effort in between the posts exemplified life’s bitter-sweet conundrum most aptly; ‘The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart’. Having once played as goalkeeper himself for the Algerian University Team, Camus would have had plenty of time to ponder on the indifferent, isolated nature of Joe’s position. Playing well with courage, but nonetheless losing out valiantly at the end, the philosopher would probably have imagined Joe happy! In a similar state of mind team mate Callum Berry (Bayren Haze) completed his day’s work with; 7 goals in total, the accolade of being tournament Top Scorer, and a now-possible trip to Nandos at Trinity!

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As a testament to fair-play, the occasion itself, a splendid day unfettered by custom or design, merited warm praise and admiration for all involved, for this was the most worthy of the deeds of men; ensuring a brighter beginning for future scholars. The reverence of it all is not that the tournament took place, but that, from the very depths of many hangovers, fellow players could find something that they could love, with a sensation of ineffable inner joy. It proves to us, in spite of the trials and tribulations of being a student, be it from the hallowed house of Monkwood, through the creaky corridors of Calder, up to the lofty aromatic heights of Marsden, and far past the imposing ridge down to the frosty fortress of Farndale, the spirit of something as simple as football resonates to ennoble us to make amends again and rekindle our collective duties and responsibilities, albeit if we have the courage, faith and joy to persist.

Some of us may be blind and live our lives out in blindness. Students may be vilified elsewhere in other situations, in another time, in another place, in another incident [report], but here out on the field they are not blind, they see with the omniscient eyes of angels! A football player sees through, and all around the corners of the arena, the very intricate carvings of his own destiny. He avoids nothing but experiences everything; the agony, the ecstasy, the shout, the tackle, the save, the pass, the run, the shot, the goal! He embodies it and proclaims it as his own and invokes that passion in illustrious occasions like these, to be savoured like the dying embers of a flame flickering in this brief but gloriously resplendent moment in time.