In the build up to Varsity 2015, I interviewed Ashley Silvarajah, SUHC Club President, to get his opinions on the season thus far and the upcoming matter of Varsity on Sunday.
How would you say the season’s gone for you so far?
First of all being in two leagues, the BUCS University league and the Hampshire league, unfortunately we’ve been relegated from the Hampshire league this year. We haven’t fared as we first hoped in BUCS but that is mainly down to our poor start. It’s certainly not a reflection of the quality in our team, in the main availability of players has hindered us to be honest. As a first team we’ve got a lot of third and fourth years so we have to concede that often on a Wednesday assignments come first.
Has that affected preparation for Varsity at all?
Well no because asides from Varsity we still have people regularly turning up to training, it’s just the Wednesday games that have been affected. With the Saturday league it’s the same situation, but everyone’s really pumped for Varsity. There’s been some real positives from the campaign though. Earlier in the season we beat Bristol 5’s 15-0 and beat Bournemouth 1’s 8-1 at the start of the season. We peaked at the start which isn’t a good way to do things. That said throughout we have shown patches of what we’re capable of, so we’ll do our best to bring our ‘A’ game on Sunday!
Having experienced last year, can you tell me what it’s like to compete in Varsity?
It’s like nothing I’ve experienced, it’s right up there in being one of the best days if not the best of our sporting calendar. It makes such a difference in that we don’t get that much support throughout the year, which I’m sure is the same for all teams but the support at Varsity from so many different people is fantastic. The noise is certainly infectious and it gives you that extra adrenaline rush that you need in those big games. In our fresher year we won 5-4 having been 4-3 down, and have lost to Portsmouth 2-1 but at the same time we beat them in the cup 3-1. It’s pretty level pegging to be honest.
Do you know much about the Portsmouth setup this year?
We’ve played them in a pre-season warm up game this year and beat them quite convincingly, but honestly that’s nothing to go by. Things have changed since then and we’re not exactly coming into it in a rich vein of form. They’re in the equivalent league to us (Portsmouth South East instead of South West) and I’d think that they’ve progressed since then.
Is there anything you’ve done differently in your preparation at all?
It’s obviously an event and a contest we look to every year. Getting motivated is certainly not an issue, the nature of the competition speaks for itself. So no I wouldn’t say we’ve prepared any different to normal.
Any areas specifically on the field that you’re looking at?
Well we’ve always been a side that have struggled defensively but we’ve been quite strong in scoring goals, that’s not been an issue. We’ve lost games 6-0 and 5-0 but won games 8-5 and 7-5 for example. This year most of our frontline are freshers but some guys have really come on this year, which is very pleasing. Hopefully we’ll gel well on the day and I’m sure we will.
I’m confident it will be one of those occasions where everyone switches on, it’s something we’ve been ready for since 2 weeks ago really. Certainly with BUCS we know we’re comfortable and can’t really go up or down that much, so Varsity has been the focus of our attentions. Last year we had players very accustomed to their roles whereas this year we have confidence and quality, but some of the freshers and second years are still growing into their roles.
Finally are there any players that have especially impressed you this year, or people for us to look out for on the day?
There’s two who stand out Joe Edwards and Kim Pullinger. Joe has shown promise as a right back as has Kim in midfield. As freshers they’re people to look out for definitely.