Pub Cup managers start their homework
Robbie Savage and John Hartson get behind the Four Elms in Cardiff as the countdown to the BT Sport Pub Cup kick-off continues
They’ve got nearly 1,000 football league appearances and 90 international caps between them but now Robbie Savage and John Hartson are taking on a new challenge.
The Welsh pair, who have both found success after their football careers in front of the TV cameras as BT Sport pundits, are taking the step into management.
But it is more grassroots than Premier League for Robbie and John, with the pair providing expertise to the two finalists in this year’s BT Sport Pub Cup.
There’s a long way to go until the showpiece at Leicester City’s King Power stadium on June 2 but Robbie and John have already been doing some groundwork.
They were both on the touchline in Cardiff this weekend to watch Aberystwyth Exiles in action. Before the game they surprised the players by giving them a team talk and then joined them for a warm down at their local pub The Four Elms afterwards.
The Exiles, representing the Four Elms, are one of the 48 pub teams picked to play in this year’s BT Sport Pub Cup. They’ll play in the 7-a-side qualifier at The Hawthorns on May 14.
Ahead of the big kick-off John and Robbie gave us some insight into this year’s competition.
Former Leicester City and Birmingham midfielder Robbie said he is already thinking about how he will help the team he manages in the final.
“I’ll be at the semi-final watching and will probably record the games on my phone, so I can watch back what they’ve done.
“I’m thrilled to be involved because a lot of people said I was like a pub player anyway! It’s a great opportunity for players to get to experience what it’s like playing on a Premier League ground – what an experience,” he said.
Robbie will be hoping to get one over his former Wales teammate John Hartson, who is returning after managing Hertfordshire’s Great Northern in last year’s inaugural BT Sport Pub Cup final. His charges narrowly lost out to Liverpool’s Liver Vaults at the Emirates stadium.
John said: “It’s great to see how much it has grown from last year with three times as many teams entering and it going up to 48 teams being involved. It should keep growing as well, which gives even more people an opportunity to play and to win the prize for the business.
“It’s great to watch it here because you can see how much it means to people. It’s not just a kickabout they turn up for, it’s competitive and they want to win.”
John, who played for clubs including Celtic and Arsenal during his career, added: “The one bit of advice I can give to the players is to go and express themselves. It is such a great opportunity to play on a Premier League ground so go out there and show what you can do.”
And players from pub teams will be given the chance to do that when the tournament kicks off next month.
It starts as a seven-a-side event with regional heats at six top grounds across the country. It then progresses to 11-a-side semi-finals at St. George’s the National Football Centre in Burton.
The two that triumph will be managed by Robbie and John at the final on the first Saturday in June. The winning team will secure £5,000 of equipment and a free BT Sport subscription for a year for their pub.
For more information visit btsportpubcup.com