Alex Urwin and Maddie Hooper have been named Men’s and Women’s captains ahead of the 2017/18 Blues football season.
After a pair of Varsity wins in both 2016 and 2017, OUAFC will go into the campaign with high hopes, and players and staff have chosen Urwin and Hooper as the pair to lead them forward. Urwin, 19, was victorious after a hustings event was held, which pitted him against 2016/17 captain Laurence Wroe and Varsity hero Dom Thelen.
“I was obviously absolutely delighted [to hear the news],” Urwin told Cherwell last week. “I didn’t quite realise how much I wanted it until I got up there and gave the hust.”
Whilst those outside of the club may have been surprised that Wroe and Thelen were overlooked, Urwin had few doubts about his credentials and “was confident going into it.”
“There was a sense of relief, as I imagine there would be with every sort of contested election, [but] I don’t want to say I was shocked,” he continued.
The PPE student will not be learning on the job: he has considerable captaincy experience, having led the 1st XI at Repton School in 2014/15 and Exeter College AFC in 2016/17.
“I captained Exeter to a strong return to the JCR Premier League, and we had a really strong Cuppers run, getting knocked out in the semi- finals.
“Before that I’ve captained school teams, and also Staffordshire cricket, so [I have] quite a bit of captaincy experience,” he said.
Regarding his aims for next season, Urwin reiterated what he had told the Blues squads during his hust, and laid out some high expectations. “I think we should better our [BUCS National] Cup run. We should win the league, and obviously the big aim is to win Varsity for the fourth year in a row,” he said.
On a personal level, Urwin will feel he has a score to settle in the BUCS National Cup, which pits all British universities against each other. In the 2016/17 quarter-finals, Oxford went out on penalties following a 0-0 draw with Worcester, with Urwin missing his spot-kick in the shoot-out.
“By the nature of Oxford sport, the success of a team’s season is quite heavily placed on their performance in the Varsity match,” he said. “But obviously BUCS [the league] is what we’re doing week in, week out, so you don’t want to prioritise it too highly over that.”
Bizarrely, despite being captain next season, Urwin is likely to be playing out of position again. Three other returning Blues play in his natural position of centre-back, and it seems probable that he will continue to start on the left in a 3-5-2 formation, where he impressed with some marauding runs in this year’s Varsity match.
“If we do persevere with 3-5-2, I guess I’d stay out there at left wing-back. I felt I really grew into the role this year, and ended up with maybe eight or nine assists, so I wouldn’t mind staying there.”
Hooper, meanwhile, will lead a Women’s Blues side that will be hit hard by the absence of Becca May, who scored a hat-trick at The Hive in the 2017 Varsity Match.
“Following the disappointment of being relegated last season, it would be great to have a good league run,” she told Cherwell.
“It’s hugely important that the team enjoys training and playing matches, and then hopefully the results will follow.”
Hooper, a tough-tackling defender, expressed her delight at becoming captain, labelling it a “huge honour”.
“I’m so excited to spend another year working and playing with such a fantastic group of girls.”