With the top two tiers already in action from week 14, the bottom rung of the BUCS pyramid joined the postseason party in week 15 as the eight third tier sides who won their division faced off in a win-and-in promotion scenario. After the mostly to-script festivities of the playoff’s first week, with only three seeding upsets, it was a much more ‘the football league is upside down’ affair this weekend with four teams winning against their seed and some very competitive games across the board. So, as the BUCS version of ‘What We Learned’ prepares to ride off into the sunset, here we go again…
1. What a weekend of football in the third tier
What the bottom tier lacks in quality, they certainly make up for it in competitive spirit and a canny knack for pulling off giant-killings – in the loosest sense of the phrase. Of the four fixtures which transpired this weekend in the third division, three of them were won by the away team. Its worth saying that who was playing at home this Sunday was not down to seeding and rather dueto yet more confusing BUCS regulations in the form of predetermined brackets that meant the western winner Plymouth was always going to host the Southern winner, Portsmouth, regardless of either division champs record at season end. Still, it made for some riveting football across the tier, with many a home field sideline consoling a disappointed set of players at around 4pm on Sunday.
2. Stirling – you look familiar, have we seen you here before?
We don’t exactly love regurgitating the more questionable adaptations of the English language bestowed upon by those guys from across the pond, but we’re going to bite the bullet and say it – the Stirling Clansmen could be about to ‘three-peat’ and are the closest thing to the Los Angeles Lakers this side of the mid-Atlantic ridge. Steady on though, we’re not comparing the rural hinterlands of the Highland Boundary Fault to the palm-tree laden climes of southern California. We’re just saying there’s a vague similarity between the two dynasties. There’s also the fact that Stirling were a relative nobody in the late noughties/ early 2010’s, whereas the LA Lakers were definitely a somebody immediately prior to the turn of the millennium, but we digress. Any team which can retain such a level of consistency is worthy of credit in our eyes, and credit must go to Clansmen HC Victor Peredo for keeping the Stirling super yacht on course following Rob Orr’s departure.
3. Nottingham and Newcastle learnt that all good things come to an end as their season reached the end of the line
After wins that would have done much to bolster the egos of Nottingham and Newcastle, their confidence came to a sudden end after losses in week 15. Nottingham were squeezed past by NTU at home, just as they had slipped by the home team the week before. The Raiders, meanwhile, were brought crashing down by a dominant Glasgow side. Lifted by a strong looking 11 point victory over the Wolves, the gulf in class between them and Glasgow was evident this weekend. Still, both sides can be proud of their over-achievement in terms of seeding this postseason and can move towards 2017 with much for which they can be proud.
4. Poor old Durham can’t quite punch their way through that final four glass ceiling
Sorry yet again for the bizarre NBA reference, but while the Stirling Clansmen are the Los Angeles Lakers of BUCSball, the Durham Saints may well be the Atlanta Hawks. While the Clansmen soar towards potentially another league championship, the plucky Durham Saints – spearheaded by a veteran receiver/ QB duo – are heading to the off-season with yet another heavy defeat to the Birmingham Lions. Like the association’s Hawks, who battle to the the second round of the playoffs before getting blown out of the water on an almost yearly basis, the Durham Saints cant quite push their way past the metaphorical 25 yard line into the red zone. Add to that the fact the Saints will soon have to depart with their ageing starting lineup and you begin to realise that at least some sort of comparison can be made here with the basketball team, who are currently in the process of shipping their starting lineup out of Atlanta in exchange for a fresher look. Cut us some slack with this one, though – we know its not quite as natural as the Clansmen-Lakers comparison… (Eds: Ok. Apparently Charlie’s been watching a lot of basketball lately…)