Marching to Merger

Sean Morgan previews the Barts and the London varsity and why it is a lesson to all other UH Clubs

Demetris Mariannis serving against Queen Mary’s opposition.

The beginning of the New Year is always a tough time in the world of sport. Whether this is due to a backlog of fixtures, the hostile elements and bitter conditions taking their toll, or the readjustment from a period of down time at Christmas and perhaps dealing with the effects of that extra mince pie that was consumed during the jovial season. At Barts and the London there is an added pressure to the start of the new year for our athletes, in that as soon as the whistle blows for the first game of the new year, the countdown to the Merger Cup against Queen Marys begins and with it, the added desire to find a run of good form and consistency which can be taken to Chislehurst in March to help seal what could be the vital point in the varsity, making sure the cup remains in the black and white of Barts for one more year.

The Cup dates back to 1995 when the medical school was first affiliated with the university and with the exception of the UH competitions, is the focal point of each sports club’s season. This is owing to the immense pride and passion to maintain our identity, seen at Barts and the London. While Queen Marys has a pool of close to 20,000 students to select from, Barts stands at a fraction of that with around 2400, though looking back over the records this disparity has seemingly had no effect, other than motivating the medical school by labelling us as underdogs. Merger Cup 2014 saw Barts take the cup back to its home on the wall of the Griffinn, with a resounding 29-24 win.

The importance of Merger Cup has intensified in recent years at Barts and the London, as a result of what has been seen as a series of attacks on our medical school’s sporting heritage. 2014 saw the introduction of Barts and the London sports teams being labelled as Queen Mary’s, University of London in BUCS competitions. This went against outcry from the students of our medical school and was also against a number of student body votes on the matter. Further insult was created following the idea being raised of Queen Marys seeking another university to play a varsity match against. The opinion of the medical school was that this would make the Merger Cup redundant and no more than a trial for the varsity.

If the recent promotional photo shoot was anything to go by, Merger Cup 2015 will be as much of a battle as it ever has been. Away from the serious pouting and stare downs caught on camera, plans are underway to seal victory for the medical school. Each club will be focussed on making the most of their remaining fixtures before Merger, with several sporting fixtures before them being between Barts and QM. Last week  saw Barts and the London Tennis Club, Mens 1st team, take on Queen Marys at their shared home of tennis at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, Olympic Park. Having drawn against each other in the first fixture of the season, the men of Barts performed beyond any level they had reached all season, winning 5-1. This was a huge victory for Barts, having lost heavily in Mens Tennis on previous encounters at Merger Cup. Congratulations to Demetris Mariannis (Captain), Vin Shah, Thaaqib Nazar and Edward Saxton.

I am never more proud to be a student of Barts and the London than when the medical school comes together when our identity or heritage is challenged and I feel that this is a feeling which has echoed through the history of each of our medical schools in London. Similar pride was displayed by Imperial Medics in response to the sale of their Teddington Sports Ground and though in the end the sale went through, Imperial can hold their heads high knowing they stood up for their heritage, as each medic which passed through their school before them would have wanted.

Sean Morgan, Sports Editor

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