Men’s and women’s pub teams have been battling it out on the road to Wembley
Pub Cup 2022 has kicked off with teams from across the country heading from the pub to some of the best facilities in the land.
The tournament got underway at the home of the champions Man City, with 16 men’s and 16 women’s teams facing off in a seven-a-side tournament.
This year’s format means that two men’s teams and two women’s will progress from each heat to a semi-finals day back at Man City, where the winners will secure a final slot at Wembley Stadium.
There was a familiar face in the men’s first tournament with BT pundit and former Premier League player Robbie Savage turning out for his Macclesfield Bar Twenty-Side.
They made it to the latter stages but eventually lost out to winners The Drop Inn from Halifax.
We got to the semis and got knocked out by a fantastic side. I love the Pub Cup, managing the teams before and playing today. It was a great experience for everyone.
The Drop Inn will be joined in the semi-finals by The Wishing Well from Preston, who went through the day undefeated and without conceding a goal.
This season’s women’s tournament is the biggest ever in The Pub Cup, with more teams and a higher standard than before, perhaps highlighted by former champions Shifnal Town failing to make it through.
Community pub The White Boar won their tournament with a 100% record. In the second women’s tournament Liverpool’s Brookhouse proved to be unstoppable on the day, winning all their five games, scoring 12 and only conceding once.
The next stop on the Pub Cup road trip was the Crystal Palace Academy, where 32 more teams came with high hopes.
Current men’s champions The Victoria from Brighton cruised through to the final of tournament one but could not continue their reign. It was Winchmore Hill’s The Dog & Duck that came out victorious with a 2-0 win in the final.
Licensee Tom Jackson, who played in goal and had a vital role in a semi-final penalty shootout, explained how the team’s entry came about.
I took over the pub three weeks ago and the first bit of post I got through the door was for the BT Sport Pub Cup. I thought that would be a great thing to do to get people together, so I entered a team, we got selected and we won!
In the other tournament it was relatively plain sailing for The Bull’s Head from Pratt’s Bottom, who scored 13 unanswered goals on the way to victory.
In the women’s section The Station, from Redhill, didn’t have it all their own way, needing penalties to get through their semi before nipping a tight final 1-0.
In the second tournament it was heartbreak for Stratford’s Bat & Ball. They were 20 seconds away from winning the final before Needham Market’s The Swan found a late equaliser and went on to win a tense penalty shootout. It is the Suffolk side who will head to Manchester for the next stage.
Former Premier League stars Joe Cole and Steve Sidwell joined the teams at Palace and were happy to pass on their advice.
Perhaps the former England, Chelsea and West Ham star summed-up best what the Pub Cup and grassroots football means.
Joe said: “You see the Premier League and the glitz and glamour but football means a lot to a lot of people.
They play every Sunday throughout the winter on terrible pitches because they love it and they love playing. To give people the opportunity to play at places like this and the Etihad and Wembley is brilliant.
- The Pub Cup continues with more regional heats in Edinburgh and Cardiff in July. Keep an eye on our Twitter feed at @BTSportBars for all the latest interviews, clips and photos from the events.