VMFC hosts biggest ever GFSN summer tournament
15 August 2017
Having really enjoyed attending last year’s GFSN Summer Get Together in Leicester, where they had 16 teams, we thought it would be a great idea to put Village Manchester forward to host it in 2017, our 21st anniversary year.
As soon as we were awarded the tournament, we straightaway booked the University of Manchester's Armitage Centre, for the first time able to boast four full size artificial pitches, after a £2.5million investment, between them giving us the eight 7-a-side pitches we were confident we'd need (and even more if we needed to cram in more matches). The Armitage also afforded us enough changing rooms for all teams - a rarity at tournaments.
It turns out organising this year’s GFSN summer get together wasn't about footie, it was all about numbers:
22 – this was the 22nd time the Summer Get Together has happened.
4 – the fourth time VMFC has hosted the event.
1 – the number of times I’ve now organised a Summer Get Together – and the number of times I will!
5 – the months we had to organise the event. Back in February, after a lengthy wait from the GFSN powers that be, VMFC was awarded the task of hosting this year's annual summer get together. Five months proved more than enough to organise a big tournament, but sadly not long enough to get on board a major sponsor.
32 – teams attending, we think the record, and the perfect number for a tournament (it's done the World Cup no harm). The only stressful thing of the tournament - until a few days before the event we had 31 teams, 29 teams, 34 teams... it was only on the Thursday that the final team, our friends from Manchester Village Spartans Rugby Club, signed up and we closed registrations.
300 – unbelievably, the exact number of players who participated. Really.
140 – total number of games - 12 minute one-way games in the morning round robin stage and 20 minute two-way games in the afternoon knockout stage.
233 – goals scored before penalties from...
133 different scorers.
11 awesome referees, all at least Level 4, some Level 3 and some even higher. All Manchester County FA registered. All a massive asset to the tournament. And all, er, kinda cute!
7 brilliant volunteers, running around with scores on soggy bits of paper so players and referees didn’t have to.
3 trips to the hospital with bashed heads, a dislocated ankle and a broken leg.
1 knackered organiser.
The weekend started with the draw party with around 150 people crammed into the top floor of Canal Street's On Bar, where Queen of On Bar Belinda Scandal, some high tech projected Excel and some low tech table tennis balls, enabled the draw. The draw was designed to be as random as possible whilst ensuring that clubs with multiple teams didn't play against each other in the group stages. Thanks to John, Jay, Westy, Belinda and some fit lads from Stonewall (nice T-shirts boys!) for assisting.
For those with stamina, this was followed by free entry to perennial favourite Cruz 101. Not for me; a couple of hours in Thompson’s followed by sorting out paperwork followed by bed. It turns out Thompson's was not a good idea.
The referees enjoying themselves as much as the players! Will he or won't he?
On the Saturday we moved on to The Armitage, with a typically grey overcast Manchester summer's day (along with some all important Mancunian rain – we wouldn’t want to disappoint).
The round robin stage saw four groups of eight playing 12 minute games, so each team got to play against seven others. There was much debate on VMFC's high powered committee about the tournament format, with the final decision being that people would rather play shorter games against more teams, than longer games against fewer.
It was my intention to give the visiting teams as much football as possible, and unusually we decided the knockout stage would be four divisions, with the top two teams in each of the four morning groups going into Division One, the next two into Division Two, and so on.
Congratulations... you all made it to the quarter finals!
With superb reffing, the quick fire morning matches went ahead as planned, with one group actually finishing ahead of schedule. Really not sure how.
Just before lunch saw a serious accident as Village Manchester first teamer and old timer Karl Storey somehow caught his foot on one of those tiny bits of rubber on the new 3G surface and managed to both dislocate his ankle and break his shinbone. His career in management is getting closer! That game’s action was completed on the next door pitch at the start of lunch as Karl lay there. And lay there. And lay there. St John Ambulance did a sterling job looking after him, and needed to as it took the local ambulance service two hours to show up. Karl has since been fixed and is enjoying the delights of daytime television.
This could easily have mucked up the afternoon schedule, but the availability of a ninth 7-a-side pitch, ready to play, meant the quarter finals went ahead pretty much as planned.
The quarters and semis progressed, teams got knocked out and started to disappear, and The Armitage started to get quieter, allowing the extremely helpful groundstaff to start the mammoth clean up operation.
On to the finals and the results were:
Division 1 winners – Leon's Stonewall Lemurs
Division 1 runners up – Village Manchester United
Division 2 winners – Nottingham Lions 1
Division 2 runners up – Yorkshire Terriers
Division 3 winners – London Titans XXL
Division 3 runners up – Birmingham Blaze
Division 4 winners – East End Phoenix B
Division 4 runners up – Cardiff Dragons
Golden Boot - Nasar Nakhli with eight goals for Leon's Lemurs
Well done to all the winners, but also to every participating team. We’ve had great feedback from the referees on the attitudes of players and teams.
You can see a full list of every match result and final rankings here.
When the football was over we headed over to Via on Canal Street for our presentations party where we were most ably supported by Lola Lasagne, handing out four trophies and one golden boot (albeit looking more like a golden slipper!)
Our referees enjoying the post tournament social in Via
For someone who isn't that bothered about football, but loves a good spreadsheet, organising the biggest ever GFSN Summer Get Together was a highly enjoyable challenge. I would like to thank everyone who helped with the organisation of the event, be it advice, the draw or lugging around 600 bottles of water and a multitude of other items.
Special mentions to Jason McAuley, who organised our brilliant referees, David Hayes who helped with the format and draw structure, our Chair John Bridges who sorted out trophies and elicited lovely messages from mayors, and Jay McNaught who arranged VMFC's five teams (try organising one and then you'll know how hard this is!) and gave invaluable advice.
Thank you to all the teams who attended and made it such a great event, particularly the team managers who got their teams there!
Our volunteers made life on the day much easier; huge thank you to them for standing around in the rain with soggy bits of paper!
Also thanks to Ralf Tenbrink and Mark Ferriss who took all the superb photographs; usually my job but unusually I didn't take a single one! And to Football v Homophobia who we were delighted attended, and whose photos I've nabbed.
It was great that Manchester's LGBT Foundation was able to attend, not only giving out safe sex advice, but actually holding a sexual health testing clinic.
We would also like to thank our corporate supporters for all their lovely help: On Bar, Via, Cruz 101, Manchester County FA, Fruit Bowl, UFIT protein drinks and the GFSN themselves.
Thanks to the University of Manchester's team at The Armitage for all their support - way more than we paid for!
Special mention must go to Manchester Pride's Superbia Fund for financially supporting SummerSeven: Superbia Grants provide financial support for LGBT events as part of Manchester Pride’s commitment to the quality and diversity of cultural events taking place throughout the year in Greater Manchester. www.superbia.org.uk
Until next time (which will not be organised by me), much love