They came from all points of the media compass and all points of the geographical compass. They had one aim in mind: to walk away with the inaugural Press Gazette 5-a-Side Challenge Cup. Teams from national newspapers, from magazines and from broadcasting journalism, from York to Bristol, Bedfordshire to Scunthorpe, battled it out last weekend at the JJB Soccerdome, next to Derby County’s Pride Park stadium.
Many talked their chances up from the word go – Radio Five Live, in particular, with the irrepressible Ralph Little, star of The Royle Family and Queen’s Park Rangers wannabe, at the forefront. But in the end it was another of the hot favourites, the Racing Post, that emerged triumphant.
Despite having been given an early 5-0 thrashing in the group stages by the talented Kent Messenger side, the Post battlers regrouped and made it to the final – where they found themselves up against the same outfit. This time the scoreline went the other way, with the tipsters emerging 5-1 winners.
This was thanks in no small part to Adam Bull’s hat trick – which secured for him the Nationwide Golden Boot as top scorer for the tournament with an eight-goal tally.
Sean Gollogly, the Racing Post team member renowned for having the best football clichÃ©s, said: “We went there with high hopes and took each game as it came. The boys got stronger through the tournament and we quietly fancied ourselves for the final. Adam was outstanding, but I think he’ll be the first to admit that it was the boys around him who allowed him to shine.”