The following is an extract from ‘Old School Ties’ which is part of an ongoing series of features about The Arthur Dunn Cup competition and its clubs by David Bauckham of Centre Circle Publishing. David has previously written about the College’s triumphant win in the 2018 ISFA Cup. The full article is a fascinating read with extensive research on the founding of the College, its relationship with football and the OB’s 117-year wait to win the Arthur Dunn Cup. You can access it here https://dbauckham.exposure.co/old-school-ties-part-17

Persistent heavy rain had cast doubt on this afternoon’s quarter-final tie against Rugbeians. Sadly, despite the best efforts of the Bradfield College grounds staff, the main Rectory pitch is still too wet to risk; and the dugouts are firmly tethered in position against the prevailing high wind. Better news however, is that the pitch on New Ground, some distance from the School, is playable. Located along a rough unmarked track from the main road, it is a rather exposed position and so there is little surprise that the pitch has dried out nicely.

In 2018 the OBs were Division One champions, boasting a 100% record, and finished twelve points clear of runners-up Brentwood. In their first season back in the top division they finished eighth of ten; and were 1st Round casualties in the Dunn, losing at Foresters in a tough draw.

This season they are faring much better and are currently third, with eight wins from fifteen so far. Following easy wins over Shirburnians [Sherborne] and Foresters in the previous rounds, they will certainly fancy their chances against Old Rugbeians, a mid-table Division Two side, albeit with several games in hand.

Thankfully there are no such problems this afternoon, although the wind makes flowing football very difficult. With the gale at their backs in the first half, the OBs dominate the opening forty-five minutes as Rugbeians struggle to keep the ball down and fail to seriously trouble the home defence.

They are a goal down within two minutes, when Justin Foord breaks into the penalty area and beats Tom Murphy inside his far post. As the OBs continue to press, Tom Martin has an effort cleared off the line, before Foord adds a second with a cheeky back heel from the edge of the six-yard box.

Rugbeians have done well to keep the scoreline down as the half-time whistle blows but have Murphy to thank for fine saves from Rory Knibbs and Piers Oldland.

With the wind now in their favour as the second half gets underway, Rugbeians really need a quick goal to get themselves back into the tie. It’s not forthcoming however, despite their best endeavours, and on 68 minutes Oldland increases the OBs’ advantage from just inside the eighteen-yard box.

Ten minutes later Tom Joslin adds a fourth from an acute angle. With five minutes remaining Sam Carver pulls one back for Rugbeians, but there is still time for Foord to complete his hat-trick, slotting between Murphy’s legs to complete a comfortable 5-1 win and earn the OBs a home semi-final tie against fellow Premier Division side Tonbridgians, themselves twice winners of the Dunn, and runners-up in 2018.

At times we’ve played possibly some of the best football in the league. We stuck to our principles and played football the way that we like to play it.

After the match, brothers Harry and Tom Martin are understandably delighted. Harry is nominally Club President and manages the administrative side of the club whilst younger brother Tom is Club Captain and looks after the football.

“At times we’ve played possibly some of the best football in the league, and we knew that if we came out and played the right way today, and matched them physically, then we’d be absolutely fine” says Harry. “The wind almost played into our hands in the second half, when we needed to keep the ball on the ground.” Tom agrees. “That suited us today. We stuck to our principles and played football the way that we like to play it.”

Harry is quick to praise Luke Webb for the development in Bradfield football. “He started, I think, the year after I left, but he has basically revolutionized football at the school. The football programme now is nothing like I went through at Bradfield.” Tom nods. “He has really laid the foundations for our club: the way that Bradfield plays, from the thirteen-year-olds through to the men’s team.” … “Basically we’ve now got a few guys who have come through that system” adds Harry. “You can really notice the difference. So hopefully it continues.”

So, with another semi-final to look forward to, can the OBs go on from there and finally break their unwelcome record of never having won a Dunn final? “Well, it’s only been a 117 year wait” comes the reply from Tom. “So let’s hope so.”

POSTSCRIPT

As we know, the semi-final against Tonbridgians, scheduled for 28 March, and also the corresponding tie between Reptonians and Carthusians, were never played. However, there remains every hope that the 2019-20 Arthur Dunn Cup competition will be completed once football is able to resume after the current coronavirus crisis.

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