During three weeks of Pub Cup heats, thousands of pub footballers have done their thing at 11 stadiums across the UK in a bid to seal a spot in the semi-finals at the home of Premier League champions Manchester City.
On Bank Holiday Monday (May 27) 20 men’s teams and eight women’s team compete in an intensive competition for the right to play in the finals at St James’ Park on Tuesday June 4. They’ll even get support from team managers for the day, BT pundits and former international footballers Robbie Savage, John Hartson, Rachel Brown-Finnis and Fara Williams.
The final nine teams booked their places at the Bank Holiday Monday football fest in heats at Bramall Lane, Leicester’s King Power stadium, BT Murrayfield and Sunderland’s Stadium of Light.
The Pub Cup week kicked off at the oldest football stadium in the country, which happens to be home to the newest entrants to the Premier League: Sheffield United. And as you would expect, there was some steely competition.
In fact, the sides were so closely matched that both men’s semi-finals and the final itself were decided by penalties.
Chesterfield based Brampton Victoria held their nerve, twice, to spark celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.
The final Women’s Pub Cup heat was equally tight, with another penalty shootout deciding the final.
On this occasion The Half Moon got over the line, just, at the expense of the Cross Keys, who managed to navigate the tournament without any subs on the day. Both teams will be playing in Manchester.
And so, to Leicester, which saw three men’s Pub Cup heats. Congratulations to Greene King pub The Oadby Owl, CJ’s Restaurant & Bar, and The Tophouse Inn, who all qualified.
Licensee Trevor Johnson proudly watched his side the Oxfordshire Yeoman take part. He explained what the occasion meant to him and the team:
BT Murrayfield was the next destination. Thankfully we had the right balls and uprights for another memorable day at a national stadium.
The two teams that made it through were The Inn Elderslie and the brilliantly named Nia Roo Bar. They’ll be joined by the Port of Call and Gatsby who came out on top at our Stadium of Light heats.
We might be looking for some new kit to take to Manchester with us though, after net-busting pens such as this…
The format on Monday will see 20 men’s team compete in four groups of five. The top two from each will play off for a place in the final.
The women’s competition will see eight teams play in two groups of four with the winners again progressing to St James’ Park.
Further details about the semi-finals, and live score reporting on the day can be found here.
And we will be on hand to bring you the best, and some of the funniest, moments on our Twitter account @BTSportBars
Monday promises to be an incredible experience for the players representing their pubs. Not only will they get to play on the same turf (and 4G) as Man City’s very own superstars but they will also have the chance of getting through to the final.
There they will experience a taste of life as a Premier League player with coaches transporting them from their pubs to the Newcastle stadium, where they will play a 90-minute game with the guidance of a celebrity manager.
This year’s winners will pick up the glory along with £5,000 of equipment and free BT Sport for a year for their pub.
It’s all to play for…