Devas Club Youth Score Different Goals On Oxford Visit.

Devas Club youth score different goals on Oxford visit.

The famous dining Hall of Oxford University’s oldest college – adorned with portraits of its famous alumni, including many former Prime Ministers – played host once again to a lively party of young people from the Wandsworth area.

In March, before our lock down struck – a party of 30 Devas members, coaches and trustees from the club in Battersea, South London, spent the day in Oxford mixing football, fun and a bit of history, and warm hospitality from University College, cutting across social, educational, economic and class boundaries.

This, now annual event, links the Club founded in 1884, to provide fresh opportunities for local, often disadvantaged young people with the University College – founded in 1249 to educate the finest of English minds in the best medieval monastic style. They are linked in the memory of a graduate who had begun working with young people in South London, but then died in a climbing accident on Mont Blanc. His family generously set up the club in his memory.

The Devas group were welcomed with a generous brunch in the University College’s Great Hall, and introduced to the college and the plan for the day under the watchful portraits of former British Labour PMs Clement Atlee and Harold Wilson, plus Bob Hawke PM from Australia and Festus Mogae, President of Botswana.

A more direct connection came in the portrait of  Lord Goodman who was head of the College and chair of Trustees of the Devas in the 1960s, well known as Harold Wilson’s Mr Fixxit. The portrait of Lord (Robin) Butler, for many years another Devas trustee and another former College head has now gone to the newly named Butler room, but that of Sir Ivor Crewe, current Master, also a trustee, and our host for the day, has taken its place.

After brunch, the group were led on a tour of the college quads, library, chapel and the memorial to poet Percy Shelley, by College ambassador Cleo Kwan, and former Univ graduate John Dineen, who has taken a job in the city but also volunteers supporting activities at the Club, and came up with visiting party.

Members then headed to the football pitches to change for the matches.  Here the two Devas teams came into their own, though we spectators were treated to somewhat more enjoyable and competitive matches than the final scores tag lines might imply.

Our women’s team proved swifter and niftier and stronger than the Univ team, which after all is still only in its early years of development.

The half time score stood at 9-0, but with some positional adjustments and judicious refereeing from, Dave Crilly, who serves as coach to several women’s teams in the south London area alongside Devas, meant the final score was officially recorded as just 9-2. Dave applied the off-side rule particularly ruthlessly and as we know that can always be a bone of contention.

The men’s match was always enthralling, engaging and highly entertaining,  and the Univ team battled to the very end – and on several instances came close to scoring, none more so than in the final minute, when a decent cross needed a sound header but instead it was nodded straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.

The final score was officially recorded as 10-0.  We can though still recall with no little joy the 4-4 draw a few years back, when Univ equalized with the last kick of the game !

The trustees then hurried back, accompanied by Sir Ivor, to review their club business, and in particular to discuss ways of refreshing and maintaining links between college and club, also given that a new Master, Baroness (Valerie) Amos, is set to take over in the autumn.

Devas Club Trustees (L-R): Mark Potter (Hon. Treasurer), Jenny Borden OBE, Sir Ivor Crewe & Dr. Paul Flather.

Trustees were then able to hurry down to the College bar, where Devas and Univ players were already tucking into chilli con carne with coke or beer (for those allowed), and mixing over billiards and darts, before the Devas team headed back home.

Dr Paul Flather, Devas trustee since the 1980s and an Oxford Fellow since the 1990s, who coordinates the matches, shared some thoughts: “It is true that the scores suggest Devas teams were rather stronger on the pitch over their Oxford counterparts. But this really did not mar a great day out, an annual highlight in the club calendar.

The players of the match were also announced with Mark Coyle, the Devas captain, in the men’s match who both scored goals and kept his team members playing together and driving on to score regularly, despite having a lead.  In the women’s match it was the Univ captain, Katie Chamberlain, who put in a plucky performance, again encouraging her team to continue battling on even though many were meeting teammates for the first time on the pitch.

There was excitement watching contrasting footballing tactics, and the Devas Club members loved the experience of eating in an Oxford college hall.” Dr. Paul Flather added.  “But most of all it was about raising expectations and mixing with students and new people. I am sure the Oxford students also found it valuable to mingle with other young people whom they may not meet regularly.”

Sir Ivor Crewe, the Master of Univ, also a Devas trustee, said: “These matches are indeed now a fixture in our calendar – even if we now struggle a bit on the football pitch. This is an important and historic link for our College which the students greatly value. It reminds us as a college of the great historic traditions of Oxford working with the settlements in London.

As members and club staff and supporters boarded the bus home in the High Street outside the imposing façade of University College, happy with their performances and all they had experienced, it had clearly been another good day’s outing to Oxford.

Wandsworth Chiefs Chat With Club Members

Wandsworth chiefs chat with Club members

The Club was very pleased, recently, to welcome Wandsworth Council chief executive, Paul Martin, and council leader Ravi Govindia, to meet with the care leavers group during the Easter break to record a discussion for the local SWL.TV as part of its recruitment campaign to find a new Director of Children’s Services. Please enjoy the discussion here

Petchey Awards

Petchey Awards

Fourteen members of the youth club received awards on the night, plus a leader award for one of the youth club workers. The award winners are, Darren Pase-Walters, Sybil Sewornoo, Tishayne Flemings, Abdul Rahim Abubakari, Nathan Keseka, Jeriah Johnson, Divine Obijiaku, Kaydena Smith.

Men’s Football Match

Men’s Football Match

The Men’s Match

In recent years the men’s match has often been keenly fought. This match however proved more one-sided once Devas had penetrated the Univ defence. Goals came regularly so much so that Devas team,, enjoying themselves, had reached 8-0 at half time, exploiting some weaknesses on the Univ side. In the second half Univ came back with fresh gusto, but despite several very narrow misses, in the end they just failed to score, much to the disappointment of spectators and players alike. The final score was somewhat shrouded but was certainly in double figures. This match was in contrast to a recent duel which had ended – memorably – at 4-4 with an equalising goal from Univ with the final kick. With Univ students coping with ever more commitments, it is proving harder to find time to train and play.

Women’s Football Match

Women’s Football Match

The Women’s Match

The Devas team once again showed their all around superiority storming into a healthy lead despite lending a couple of players to their opponents. The match was played in a good spirit and much enjoyed by all with all round encouragement to both teams, from coach Dave Crilley. Devas led by 7-0 at half term and this increased in the second half, with Devas proving themselves generally fitter, more skillful and more savvy, especially in front of goal. Credit goes to team captain, Manhoor Rauf, who led her team ably. It bodes well for Devas that another women’s team was also in action at the weekend.




Univ Vs Devas Annual Football Match 2018

Univ Vs Devas Annual Football Match 2018

In February, Devas Club members made their annual visit from south London to the hallowed portals of University College, founded in 1247 making it one of the oldest colleges at Oxford University. The Univ-Devas link is 144 years old, since the Devas family, led by the parents of a University College student tragically killed near Zermatt in a climbing accident,, set up the club in Battersea to support disadvantaged youngsters in memory of their dead son. The 30-strong party which included men and women’s football teams were welcomed at the gates by Club Trustees and began their visit with a hearty brunch in the famous hall, Here Paul Flather, who has involved with the Club for 30 years now, and has long worked at Oxford, introduced students to Oxford and Oxford life and answered questions about studies and life in the university. Several previous heads of College had been trustees with the Devas Club.

The University College Oxford Tour

Visit to Hall

The Devas party, including a few youngsters who were keen to explore access to study at Oxford, accompanied by Mark Clay and senior coaching staff, were then given a tour of the College library, chapel and memorial to the famous poet Percy Shelley, by two college students – Imogen Thrussell, who is now in her fourth year studying an Masters in Physics and Rebecca Williams who is in her first year studying Experimental Psychology. They were able to answer all the questions raised (see images).

The Women's Match

This is the second year that a women’s match has been arranged between Devas and Univ, with the Univ women still easing in to the role,. They were given a free coaching session by Dave Crilley, our women’s coach, high in the FA pecking order, which was much appreciated. Once the match kicked off, the Devas team soon showed themselves on top, and with goals coming regularly eased into a 9-0 lead by half time, ably led by the team captain, Manhoor Rauf who is the female rep for the south London region with the FA. Even so the goalkeeper and captain of their team – Georgia Allen who is studying History and Politics and has played football since she was young, woman of the match as it turned out – led by example, defending her goal well. The second half was more relaxed and the official result was recorded as 9-3 with some judicious refereeing and some friendly play and Georgia playing half the match as centre forward (see images).

In recent years, the men’s match now celebrating some 20 years in the current run, has often been keenly fought, and the match was no exception with Devas just about on top in the first half by 1-0. A recent match had ended memorably at 4-4 with an equalizing goal from the Univ in the final kick of the match. After half time the Devas team displaying greater exhuberance and skill gradually came out on top, with the final score 4-1 in their favour (see images). The Devas captain Tevon Webster, showed his paces, and was adjudged man of the match. It was satisfactory result as the team had managed to leave its kit at the youth club. One team member only made just before half time, having gone back to retrieve the official kit. The enhanced of being in team with a single kit may well have helped Devas in the second half, as Misha Jones the Univ captain who is studying Russian and Czech languages agreed light-heartedly afterwards.

As usual, team members, coaches, trustees and supporters, gathered in the Univ College bar for a final farewell and a drink before the Devas party headed back to south London after another enjoyable and successful visit. There was plenty of hot food on tap, pizza and burgers and plenty of takers. Paul Flather rounded off the day with some congratulations to the two players of the teams – the two captains, the staff from the Devas side, and above all to the University College side, the food and bar staff, the ref, and of course the head of the College. Sir Ivor Crewe echoed his own thanks and promised tougher matches in the years to come as the women’s team continued to develop and the men’s worked harder on tactics. The Devas then made their way onto their coach parked on the High Street in Oxford outside the college and headed home – with all their kit safely on board. Until the next visit.

Trustees Meeting

During the annual visit to Oxford to play football martches v teams from University College, the Trustees held one of their board meetings at Univ College, while the two teams showered and changed. The board was able to confirm new fund-raising plans, work with the varioius partners and tenants at the Club, and review links with the College, joined by the Master of Univ, Sir Ivor Crewe for this meeting. It was also confirmed that John Clarke would be appointed Director of Operations, with Andrew Griffith, our current Treasurer elected as the new chair. Also attending were Mark Potter and Paul Flather