The tiddlywinks varsity match will take place on 4th May at Exeter College. The Oxford team consists of about half a dozen students, who hope to sustain the tradition of claiming quarter blues for their achievement.
The team have been training hard: they practise most evenings and often continue until dawn. One member, Sonia Morland, divulged how “years of hard work have gone into this…undoubtedly the most prestigious Varsity competition.”
Other team members were also keen to share their excitement with Cherwell. Joe Price labelled the sport as “the activity this year for which I give a flying flick.” His sentiments were echoed by Kostas Chryssanthopoulos, who commented, “We are all keen to use our magic fingers to get those winks to sing.”
Anticipation is certainly in the air; Crawford Jamieson said, “There is a general feeling within the team, and around Oxford, that this is the Varsity event of the millennium.”
Other Oxford students, however, proved more sceptical. Nieaogeumh Burns, an Irish student, said, “I don’t even know what Tiddlywinks is, and I don’t care to know”.
Indeed, Tiddlywinks no longer enjoys the high profile on the university sporting scene that it once did. The official Oxford University Tiddlywinks Society, formed in 1958, has since been disbanded; their award of quarter blues is not recognised by the blues committee.
“Tiddlywinks, it sounds like… It sounds…” trailed off Izabela Karasinska-Stanley, a first year student at New College. It was with a note of bitterness that one student said, “It’s not a sport that anybody plays in state schools.”
The stakes are high: Oxford has only won the Tiddlywinks Varsity cup four times. The last Varsity match in 2011 saw a 99-13 Cambridge victory, after which the Oxford president was forced by the rest of the team to resign.
The Cambridge University Tiddlywinks Club manifesto even states how its purpose is “to put the willies up Oxford University Tiddlywinks Society, should it exist, at least once a year.”
Cherwell wish the Oxford Tiddlywinks team the best of luck next Saturday, and remind them that, in the words of Muhammed Ali, “Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision.”