"The first 90 minutes are the most important"
Homertonian footballers channelling Bobby Robson this week
The omens have got to be good for a Cambridge win against Oxford on Sunday.
Here's the logic for optimism:
- The men's and women's Varsity Football matches against the dark blues are hosted by Leyton Orient FC at Brisbane Road
- Homerton College has superstar players in both the men's and the women's matches
- Leyton Orient owes its very existence to.... Homerton College (yes it does)
First things first: the players.
Emilia Keavney is in her second year at Homerton studying Engineering. She has played football since the age of 8 or 9 - first in boys' teams in Sunday league, later also joining a girls' team so that every day of every weekend was devoted to the sport. She was selected to join Sunderland FC's Academy - known as the Academy of Light - and proudly remembers playing against the future Lioness, Lauren James. A combination of injury and A-levels paused Emilia's football career in her last years at school, but when she came to Homerton last year she joined the College club - then shared with Emmanuel and known as 'Hemmerton' - and was also straight into the Blues team for the University.... until a badly broken finger in the same term took her out of commission for most of the rest of the year. Emilia is a goalkeeper and a broken finger was an obvious cause for time out. She was judged fit to play again a scant month before the 2022 Varsity match, but her depth of experience meant she was still selected to compete against Oxford, despite the missing training time. But with all eyes on Emilia as goalie, the team lost agonisingly on penalties.
This year has been somewhat smoother. Emilia says simply, "a perfect year: great team, great captain, a new coach, and we're in the top 3 in the national league". Any thoughts of an England-style penalties jinx have been put to bed, since Emilia saved the penalty in a quarter-final shootout that got them to the semis, against Birmingham, and now the final.
In the men's team, Kosi Nwuba will play his last match for Cambridge. As a medical student he has had 6 years of College and University sport, but unlike Emilia he didn't play much at school, feeling under too much pressure to study. He joined Homerton in 2017 and in football he hasn't looked back, culminating in the Presidency of CUAFC in 2022. With the Blues, he has been to China (twice), Portugal and Miami, and he has experienced the sweet taste of Varsity match victory before: brought on as a substitute in 2019 he scored the winning penalty against Oxford.
Emilia says, "Kosi is a powerful striker who Oxford should be afraid of! He has been an integral part of CUAFC throughout his degree and we will all be sure to miss him when he graduates later this year.”
Kosi says, "Emilia really is a superstar. The women’s Blues team are achieving unprecedented success this season and could potentially be national champions next week, as well as hopefully Varsity champions. Emilia is one of the key players who has played every game in this record-breaking season ... she is truly a generational footballer and Homerton are so lucky to have her".
Tickets for the Varsity matches on Sunday 19 March 2023 are available. The BUCS national league final - which might see Emilia among national champions - will be on Wednesday, at Basford United's stadium in Nottingham.
Oh, and the story of how Homerton College founded Leyton Orient (sort of by accident, as a by-product of cricket)? The full story is here, in all its twists and turns.