The second half of Varsity 2017 is underway, which means one of the most anticipated events of the series is getting agonisingly close. Impact Sport caught up with Peter Rosemin, President of UoN Football – who are looking to add to UoN’s first half Varsity lead by ending their own five-year losing run at Meadow Lane.

Another year of Varsity, but does that mean another new team? Have there been any major losses through graduation?

“Definitely. We lost some very big characters and some very good players. That’s going to happen again even more so this year. Some of the best players that I’ve played with over the past three years are leaving. It’s unfortunate, but a university like Nottingham always attracts very good footballers. We lost quite a few good players but we’ve gained quite a few good ones too.”

Do you think we’ll be seeing those new faces at Meadow Lane?

“A hundred percent. There’s a few boys who are in first year now and have done really well. Plus, there’s a few boys who weren’t involved much last year, but recently have come on leaps and bounds, so you’ll definitely see a lot of them.”

Any specific names to look out for?

“There’s a few! In first year, there’s a boy called Andrew Drylie, he’s one of the scholars that the University has put some money behind this year.

“We’ve got a few others. A boy called James Bessey, he’s our top goal-scorer this season. And finally, Matt Dicks, who plays in defence for us.”

Let’s reflect on last year’s game, where UoN conceded two early goals, with one coming after just 32 seconds. Despite a spirited comeback, yourself and the boys came on the wrong end of a 3-1 loss to NTU. What are you and the players, plus the coaching staff doing to ensure that sort of thing isn’t repeated?

“Throughout the season, compared to last year, we’ve conceded far less goals. We’re more resilient. Even though we stayed up last year we were conceding four or five goals on a regular basis. This year everyone’s been at it despite ending up in a worse position.”

This year UoN found themselves in the relegation playoffs, with one tie coming against Trent. UoN lost the match against their local rivals 1-0, but Peter is adamant that this does not mean Varsity will be the same result.

“It allows us to see each other’s strengths and weaknesses, which we will then obviously work on for Varsity. The thing we’re focusing on is to not concede early, and to settle the nerves from the get-go. Some of the players went out there and were a bit nervous, it’s a big occasion where you’re playing in front of 3000+ people. The majority of boys have never done that, regardless of what level.

“We’re working hard to take the game to them, not be on the backfoot and definitely not concede early.”

Out of those two games, Varsity and the playoffs, which is the more important to you?

“Being in my final year I’d love to win a Varsity just because Nottingham hasn’t won it in football in quite a few years. But from the point of view of the University; where the football club should be; the players we have and the facilities we have, they’re both just as important as each other. Something inside of me says that if I had to pick one I know which one I’d pick, but I feel we’re good enough to stay in the league and win Varsity. That’s the aim. I want to win both.”

“It’s massive. It’s something that I’ll never forget. I’m grateful that I’m at a University that gives me the opportunity to play at somewhere like that”

If it goes to penalties… do you know what the drill is?

“We don’t know the order as of yet. But if I had to put money on who I’d put where then I think most of the boys would know. It’s not that simple though, you’ve gotta remember that it depends on who’s on the pitch.

“At the end of the day, you put your star attackers on the pitch at the start of the game, and if you have to make a change after sixty minutes and bring someone else on it changes that penalty dynamic. Likewise, if we’re drawing in the 89th minute and have a very good penalty taker on the bench you’ve gotta bring him on.”

Would you step up?

“I would step up, but I don’t think I’d be first choice. I’d be about third or fourth.”

This year Varsity is split over Easter, with your game coming straight after the break. Do you prefer that or is there an issue with fitness and sharpness?

“Personally, I enjoy it. I enjoy the whole build up. It’s a nice break from revision because we come back a bit early for training and I get to be with my friends, we got out together, chill together, so I prefer that it’s after Easter.”

You mentioned earlier about the nerves that come with playing at Meadow Lane – how do you settle the butterflies in the changing room?

“The general atmosphere is quite good among the group; we all fight for each other. The nerves set in when you’re warming up, not when you’re playing. I think it’ll be like this for the first-year boys who have never done it before.

“When you’re in the game, you have to do something because you’re against the opposition. There are a few butterflies as always but when you step out on the pitch you gotta get rid of them and do what you have to do.”

What does it mean to you to be able to play at the ground of the oldest Football League club?

“It’s massive. It’s something that I’ll never forget. I’m grateful that I’m at a University that gives me the opportunity to play at somewhere like that. My friends at other Universities play at an equally high level but the standards of stadium are ridiculously poor. We’re very lucky, especially with the heritage that the stadium has.

“At the end of the day, I wouldn’t mind where it is as long as we win.”

Predictions?

“We have the capability to beat them and to hurt them. They are gonna be very good but if we keep it tight at the back I can see it being a 2-0 win. It won’t be easy and it will be a very tense game compared to last year. There’s more of a structure and identity with our team. 3-0 would be nice actually. Bring Varsity back to Uni Of!”

UoN’s manager is quite a recognisable name: Gary Charles, who played under the legendary Brian Clough at Nottingham Forest, represented England twice and had spells at Leicester City, Derby County, Aston Villa, Benfica, West Ham and Birmingham City.

“He’s been very instrumental in Nottingham’s success over the past three or four years. He’s developed a lot of the players. He’s helped me as a player, and is someone I can talk to about anything, on or off the pitch. We want to do well for him and he wants us to do well. Like we always say: ‘win together, lose together’.”

Tom Monks

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