Swansea lift Finals Day trophy!
104 MAN v FAT teams were whittled down to one winner on Saturday, as clubs from across the MAN v FAT programme came together to compete in the Finals Day at Manchester City’s prestigious Etihad Campus.
And, for the second year running, the title is to stay in Wales as Swansea Oranges claimed the crown won by Newport just over a year ago.
The Welsh sides were well represented again at the weekend, with several teams heading to Manchester and they made up two of the four semi-finalists after a hard fought day of football at City’s training ground.
Following regional qualifiers in Scarborough, Slough, Dorchester and Ilkeston, nearly 50 sides came together on a chilly day with the aim of lifting the Finals Day trophy.
A busy morning of football whittled the teams down to 16, with 2021 finalists Portsmouth and Newport both represented.
Portsmouth made it as far as the quarter finals this year, where they were defeated by eventual finalists Norfolk N Chance, from King’s Lynn.
Elsewhere, Preston’s Stokoe Goblins, winners the last time we were at The Etihad Campus, went out in the round of 16 and the two remaining Durham sides – Powney FC and Durham Bakers – also fell at that hurdle.
As the final match loomed on the horizon, the standard of football meant that the quest to reach the big match was a tough one.
Millwall, who had impressed at Slough, saw off the Warrington Wolves in the Quarter Finals, whilst on the other half of the draw, a gargantuan tie between the two Welsh sides Newpork Bounty and Swansea Orange had the attention of many.
It was the Oranges who were to prevail and Norfolk N Chance made sure that they won the battle of the South East sides, seeing off Millwall.
Swansea stepped it up in the final, showing their class to win 5-1 and take home the title.
Coach Ben Gleeson said: “This team, along with the wonderful support of Callum Jones and his drum, have achieved something truly special here. They became the pride of our league for a weekend and will be so for much longer than that!
“Roughly 15 months ago we began with nothing but a wonderful venue and a group of 20 strangers. MAN v FAT was an alien concept to the Swansea area. 110 active members later, over a tonne (literally 1,000kgs+) of weight lost, so many lives changed & saved, and now we’re National Champions. Our rapid growth from nothing to something has been incredible, and we’re not done yet. This league, this family of brothers, is unstoppable.
“Seeing all the effort, time and energy we’ve put into building this club, this family, all come to fruition as our elected tournament team became National Champions, was genuinely one of the proudest achievements of my life. Outside of getting married and the birth of my children, it was the best day of my life.
“These guys really are a special bunch. We’ve created a league that goes way beyond football and weightloss. We’ve genuinely cultivated a safe haven for men’s mental health and it’s all thanks to how open, honest and vulnerable our members allow themselves to be.”
Finals Day returns in 2023 – can our English, Scottish and Northern Irish clubs prevent it becoming a Welsh hat-trick?