History was made, careers were both launched and finished, and the JMU Journalism World Cup scoring record was broken for the third year in a row as Level 1 literally destroyed the Alumni team in the semi-finals.
The first years could not have made a more emphatic statement of intent in the 10th and last edition of the JMU Journalism finals, reducing their shellshocked opponents to rubble amid a 14-0 blitz which could have been even more damaging.
There was little warning of what was to develop when the Alumni started off brightly. Good link-up play between two new starters, Leigh Kimmins McManus and Matt Ramirez, provided the latter with an opening in the box, but he could not provide a clinical finish.
Paddy Allen’s men soon got into their stride, however, with Harvey Cleere and Beck Pascal looking all-too-comfortable on the ball, finding lots of space and time to spare to pick the passes which would soon unlock the Alumni’s crumbling defence.
The avalanche began when Stephen Dickinson headed against his own post and the rebound fell to Anton Brooks, who smashed it home against the underside of the crossbar.
That lead was doubled not long afterwards via David Lawson Cooke’s flying volley that Nick Seddon tried to chest away but he succeeded only in helping it over the line.
YouTube: JMU Journalism
Jeff McGlinchey, making his goalkeeping debut, started to become accustomed to watching virtually every Level 1 shot fly past him as Lewis Pugh’s low drive, Lawson Cooke’s second, and Luke Edwards made it five.
Brooks looked suspiciously offside when he met Lawson Cooke’s long pass on the volley to slide home and he racked up his own personal treble with another before the interval, following additional strikes by Pascal and Lewis Pugh.
Nine goals adrift and with the end of the tournament itself looming, Alumni manager John Mathews took the extraordinary step of sacking himself and his whole side at half-time, sending them back out with a demand to make the last 45 minutes of the team’s existence something to be proud of.
This highly unorthodox motivational method seemed to be paying off in the early phase after the restart, with Dickinson and then Matt Crosby unlucky not to get themselves on the scoresheet as the graduates rallied.
All distant hopes of establishing a tiny foothold in the semi evaporated when the highly skilful Ben Hamlet got the reward he deserved with a header from a corner to bring up double figures before Michael Grimes teed up Lawson Cooke for his hat-trick.
Brooks, who rounded ‘keeper McGlinchey only to hit the post in front of an open goal, later slammed home a more difficult chance to notch up his fourth.
The biggest cheer of the night came when Grimes thrilled his considerable fan club by calmly slotting home a penalty to make it 13-0, before Ethan Taylor completed the annihilation late on.
Cruel and outrageous tricks were by now being performed to underline the scale of the debutants’ domination, with a circus-like atmosphere descending upon IM Marsh in the twilight.
The Alumni, a pale and almost fraudulent imitation of the squad that reached four successive finals in this decade, were relieved when referee, Tim Abraham, eventually brought their ordeal to an end.
It was certainly not the way they would have chosen to bring the curtain down on their memorable involvement in the JMU Journalism World Cup, but for the first years the dream lives on in Thursday’s last-ever showpiece final, where their opponents will be Level 3.
YouTube: Looking back at the first JMU Journalism World Cup (2010)