Two universities, both alike in dignity,
In fair UEA, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
There are many famous university rivalries, Oxford and Cambridge, King’s College and UCL, but none match the fervency and passion of that between UEA and the University of Essex. (Although King’s did once steal and hold to ransom a mummified head that belongs to UCL…)
If you did not know of the enmity which exists between these two institutions you would perhaps be surprised by how seriously it is sometimes taken – it is not only students but staff who perpetuate it, this year Essex Uni parked a van outside our campus during one of our open days to advertise theirs. Shocking behaviour indeed.
But this usually theoretical rivalry breaks out again each year on what is known as Derby Day, a day of sporting competitions hosted alternately by the universities. Just about every sporting society takes part and each victory scores a point for the team’s university.
UEA hosted this year and I am happy to report that for the third year running UEA have won the trophy, and not by a small margin (42.5-19.5!).
Generally the day was one of good sportsmanship, although towards the end tensions were running high and Concrete (the UEA paper) seemed to be reporting a lot of yellow cards.
Throughout the day, the campus square was given over to festivities and general merrymaking (e.g. slightly inebriated students attempting to do the bungee run) and by the evening, with victory in the air, things were pretty wild – as one of my friends put it, ‘It looked like the last days of Rome’.
If, like me, you are not of a generally sporting disposition, then Derby Day is a strange experience. University pride dictates that you cheer along and maybe join in with the odd bit of singing but, what with the weather still being very cold, doesn’t extend to actually watching a full hockey game…
As Essex are hosting next year I probably won’t have to worry about it for another two years, so until then all that remains to be said is congratulations to all who took part, rather you than me.