14 Aug 2013 07:16:11

Two more unbeaten games for the Bluebirds

AFC Bluebirds is a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter. This match report is written by Joe Cawley.

Screen shot 2013-08-13 at 18.42.44Lining up for the first game of the night, the ConHome-sponsored Bluebirds team was in good spirits. Without their enigmatic Captain for another evening, an unusual, calm composure settled over the team confident in their ability. This confidence did not prove to be without merit; as soon a Bluebirds ran out on to the pitch, their game was all flowing football, quick passing and darting runs. The first half saw Nick Pickles step up to the plate, putting away two sharp goals after consummate passing play from the back. For all their superiority in the first half, Bluebirds struggled to find the net and only went in 3-1 up at the break.

After a quick half time pep talk led by Kevin Evans, Bluebirds started the second half like the first, dominating possession and keeping the ball squarely in the opposition’s half. The striking boots had clearly been put on in the half time break, and goals started to fly in. The opposition keeper must have had some sympathy with Chris Bryant on Monday evening. It was hard to keep track of Bluebirds all-out-assault, but Nick Pickles, Jimmy McLoughlin and Kevin Evans secured hat tricks, with every member of the team slotting at least one. The game’s final score was hard to tally, at a guess 15:3*.

It is with this performance that Bluebirds stepped up to the second game. Aware of last week, where a first game victory had led to a second game in which defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory, Bluebirds came out with resolve. Once again, the passing and the movement was strong and purposeful, but there was no doubting that this team was stronger than the first. Bluebirds momentum was also hindered by what can only be described as a deeply angry and misguided referee, making decisions that would dog Bluebirds' performance throughout the match. Even with these hurdles to overcome, Bluebirds went in 5-3 up thanks to solid play at the back from Chris Rees and Jack Withrington, midfield magic from Kevin ‘Hazard’ Evans, Adam ‘Mata’ Brown and Luke ‘Oscar’ Webster and the continued fire power of Jimmy ‘dreadnaught’ McLoughlin.

Bluebirds started the second half as they meant to go on, scoring quickly from the restart and putting so distance between themselves and the opposition. However, the old curse reasserted itself, and the opposition started to come back. Working on a strategy of passing to their strong and quick centre forward, the opposition knocked in a couple of quick goals. With the talent of their striker, it was only the work rate and determination of Chris Rees at the back that kept more from being put away. With the game now squared at 6-6, the referee took the view that if several wrongs do not make a right, then maybe an absolute howler would.

For what was definitely a foul, but foul of no particular note, the referee suddenly decided he was working in the prem and sent Jimmy off for being the last man. With indignation running high Bluebirds battled on with four men. So incensed were Bluebirds with this affront to the spirit and rules of the game, that whilst down numerically, Bluebirds pulled ahead to 7-6. What followed was a tense five minutes of play with the opposition scoring, only for Kevin Evans to put a blinder away. With only seconds left the opposition powered down the pitch and scored with the last kick of the game. With the final score at 8-8*, Bluebirds are moving in the right direction.

*Actual scores

Bluebird 7 : 7 RPFC
Twobirds 12 : 2 Unathletico Archway

31 Jul 2013 15:30:22

AFC Bluebirds soar in double victory

AFC Bluebirds is a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter. This match report is written by Chris Rees (pictured below). Follow Chris on Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-07-30 at 16.51.12Silly season began this week with Parliament entering recess, but the Conservative Home sponsored Bluebirds and Twobirds made sure there was nothing casual about their performances. With two outstanding displays of unity, the teams enjoyed a memorable night playing the beautiful game.

Twobirds, stepping out in their shin-padded regalia, were first up, only to find a distinct lack of an opponent. With the opposition eventually turning up twenty minutes late, Twobirds were given a 2-0 head start. James Doyle, making his return after an all too long absence, played a pivotal role in extending this lead. With the opposition on the ropes after having a man sent-off for unfootballing rhetoric, Twobirds exposed the space by utilising the infamous fork formation. The added penetration, coupled with their superior discipline, left the opposition more exposed than a Shadow Labour Welfare Minister talking about benefit caps on Question Time. They may only be true blues, but Twobirds made light work of their first game winning 8-3.

Bluebirds, seeing their younger brother stick the fork in, went into their game with a point to prove. Going an early goal down can often send a team into disarray, but with government experience on their side, the Bluebirds exhibited all the characteristics of a well-oiled machine. Then, like the winner of a hard fought by-election, this author managed to score a notorious 'lamb shank' – also known as a glorious long range shot into the bottom corner. The Bluebirds were on the board. Sadly this was the only successful long range effort of the evening with many other speculative attempts going to waste. Nonetheless, the Bluebirds battled on and went through a beautiful passing stage.

Continue reading "AFC Bluebirds soar in double victory" »

15 Jul 2013 07:27:28

Demon Eyes singe Bluebirds amidst the fires of hell

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Hudson Roe is the captain of AFC Bluebirds, a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

Demon Eyes 4 – 1 Bluebirds

Screen shot 2013-07-15 at 07.26.48Temperatures exceeded 30 degrees on Saturday.  It was in these conditions that a team that had not played 11-a-side football for twelve moths aimed took on their sworn political opponents (and regular 11-a-side team).  One member of our number remarked that they had not expected to be playing Demon Eyes in the fires of Hell – it certainly felt like that.

Set out in a 4-1-3-2 formation, Bluebirds were playing an unfamiliar version of the game, in unfamiliar and mind-bogglingly hot conditions.  The formation, (according to Wikipedia) called for a “strong and talented defensive centre midfielder”.  This was the position that the Bluebirds captain, your correspondent and rapporteur, was playing in.  It appears that self-confidence may not have been justified.

Continue reading "Demon Eyes singe Bluebirds amidst the fires of hell" »

11 Jul 2013 06:21:22

Andy Johnson: Bluebirds maintain unbeaten streak

AFC Bluebirds is a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-07-10 at 20.39.23After two wins last week, the Conservative Home-sponsored Bluebirds and Twobirds teams were looking to continue their fine form into this week. Twobirds won against decent opposition in the first, fiery game, whilst Bluebirds managed to sneak a late goal to guarantee a draw before the grudge match with Labour on Saturday.

The team quickly took the lead, 3-1 up after a few minutes following well worked Will McCann and Andy Johnson goals. Sadly, Twobirds let success go to their heads and conceded four cheap goals. Despite the heroics of stand in goalkeeper, Kevin Evans, and a brief rally late in the half, Twobirds trailed 6-7 at half time.

A half time team talk which drew upon memories of The Lions, Andy Murray and the '92 election campaign followed by plenty of badge kissing, "we can do this, lads" speeches and chest thumping pushed the team towards victory.  Duly impassioned, Twobirds, and particularly Alex Lancaster, stepped up a gear, chasing lost causes, challenging for every ball and tracking every man.

Unfortunately, with only five minutes to go they were still 8-7 down, suffering from a harsh sin bin against captain, and fulcrum, Hudson Roe.  It was late in the game by the time Joe Cawley, usually a goalkeeper, thumped a questionable equaliser and Andy 'raging bull' Johnson galloped through and in an emotional winner.

There was even time for some show-boating, with the final score reading 11-8 to Twobirds with man of the match going to Andy Johnson, the people’s choice.

Continue reading "Andy Johnson: Bluebirds maintain unbeaten streak" »

19 Jun 2013 07:10:57

AFC Bluebirds soar in double demolition

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Hudson Roe is the captain of AFC Bluebirds, a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

On the 17 June 1987, the Dusky Seaside Sparrow officially became extinct. 26 years later, the ConHome-sponsored, avian-named, Bluebirds were playing to ensure their own survival and avoid relegation.  Knowing that the Big Name Sponsor was disappointed in the results last week, the team worked to right this and clock up some victories. 

Lining up for the early kick off, any chance of the first team staying in the second division was dependent upon not just winning, but winning by a strong margin and results in other games going our way. The team, fired up by an inspirational speech from the Captain and free Lucozade at Powerleague ultimately did not avoid the drop. However, the match was a one sided affair with the boys in blue dominating the match and scoring ten goals.

Straight from the kick off Bluebirds were all over the opposition with secure defending and overwhelming firepower up front. Holding the defence was the captain, with Dan Hooper and Ed Winfield spending all of the game running; supporting the defence, facilitating the attack, using all the energy a motivational speech and a free power drink can bring.

With the keeper barely being called upon there was nothing to stop a forward rampage. Jimmy McLoughlin, with his partner-in-crime the Roberto Carlos-like Adam Brown in support, led the charge bagging an excellent hat-trick. With quick passing, competitive play and repeated use of their weaker foot, this first class group of players worked to create a symphony of champagne football. Victory was guaranteed with goals subsequently going to every member of the team - a resounding victory.  The team may have been relegated but with performances like that one, the Division Three title beckons.


The second game of the evening saw the second of the two Bluebirds teams. playing in the Premier Division (safe in the knowledge that they were safe from relegation). enter into a full-blooded contest against a team of angry young men.

A core of players having played the earlier game, the team were well prepared for one of the most physical encounters the intrepid bluebirds had ever faced.  Owing to the experience of the team and despite constant provocation, all of the team remained on the pitch for the whole game.  This was not the case for the over-exuberant ‘Goalscoppers’ who had players removed from the field at several points in the game.  Bluebirds are used to finding themselves playing against physically intimidating opponents; never before has it been a batch of hormonal students. 

Despite the antagonism, Bluebirds continued the evening’s tradition of fine, flowing football - Luke Webster and Alex Lancaster providing width and Jack Withrington again performing the role of foundation upon which successful attacks could be built.   Constant buzzing around and running led the team to overwhelm the youthful opponents; displaying passing that would not look out of place in a Guardiola team.  Despite superior possession the match was, in terms of goals scored, a tight affair, never exceeding a two-goal margin.

The Captain pitched in with his first hat trick of the season, including an expertly dispatched left-foot half volley to take the lead in the final few minutes.  This was sadly undone by some awful defending, but the striker, Will McCann, restored the lead with seconds on the clock.

The season may be over, but there is no let-up for the Bluebirds.  Next week is the beginning of the new season (no summer tour, trips to Dubai or pre-season training sessions for us), with only three weeks before the grudge match against Labour's Demon Eyes on July 13.  

Twobirds 10 – 3 Buzzers
Bluebirds 8 – 7 Goalscoppers

12 Jun 2013 07:35:57

Sponsor agony as BlueBirds have wings clipped

Hudson Roe is the captain of AFC Bluebirds, a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home. Follow them on Twitter.

Screen shot 2013-06-11 at 22.32.21The ConservativeHome-sponsored Bluebirds teams played their penultimate matches of the season knowing that for one team their position in the first division was secure, but that the team languishing towards the bottom of the second tier had to win at least one of their next two games to stand a chance of remaining in the division.  Sadly, without the big money sponsor in attendance, Bluebirds did not perform as well as they can – perhaps feeling his absence in the corporate box side of the cage.

A strong team lined up for the first match, including debutant Will Tanner.  The team needed a victory against their fellow relegation candidates to put them within touching distance of guaranteed safety and away from the lowest division.
It was clear from the start that the opposition were going to harry Bluebirds as much as possible, allowing for very little time on the ball.  Some great goalkeeping from Joe Cawley and a couple of dazzling runs and confident finishes from Kevin Evans (pictured) saw the team go a couple of goals up.  This provoked a response from the opposition who came back strongly.  Bluebirds went into half time in good spirits and ahead by one goal.

Our over-confidence nearly proved our downfall as Bluebirds conceded a couple of quick fire goals from the opposition early in the second half.  After this brief setback, our neat, sharp passing game returned and Evans found space again slotted the ball past the keeper, taking his tally to a personal best of five.  Despite more attacking pressure (and a few more goals) from FC Coping Badly, a much-needed goal from Ed Winfield pulled Bluebirds level before a last minute goal saw the opposition's lead returned.

As the clock ticked down, barely seconds remaining, a back-heeled free kick from Hooper saw the captain control and unleash a fizzing long-range effort into the bottom corner sealing a deserved draw. The result was fair in the context of the game with notable performances from Joe Cawley and the man of the match and leading goal scorer, Kevin Evans (pictured) aided and abetted by defence splitting passes from the debutant Tanner and Ed Winfield on the wing.

In the second game, a team took their chances to snatch a victory that maintained their title push.  Sadly, it was not Bluebirds.  Joseph Cawley, again brilliant in goal, was the only bright star, again showing a level of performance that did not warrant being on the losing team.  Will McCann (read: star striker) returned to the starting line-up following a month long injury and faced a herculean battle against the Intergreat’s goalkeeper.  The keeper only saw three pass him; another long-range strike from the captain, a nicely taken goal by McCann and a comedic own-goal that hit an opposition player's head, the ceiling and then the back of the net.  Sadly, the team's Wigan-style defending saw us lose by five goals

There were some brief flashes of brilliance, but for the most part, an opposition desperate to win the title (they sit in second place) out-ran and out-gunned the Bluebirds. The players are now looking forward to the final games of the season knowing performances need to improve drastically for us to put in a good show against Labour’s Demon Eyes in four weeks.

Twobirds 8 - 8 FC Coping Badly
Bluebirds 3 - 8 Intergreats

27 Nov 2011 13:55:12

Welsh Conservative Leader Andrew RT Davies pays tribute to Wales football manager Gary Speed

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Assembly Andrew RT Davies AM, has issued a statement on the death of Wales football manager Gary Speed:

“My deepest sympathies and condolences go out to the family and friends of Gary Speed at what must be an incredibly difficult time. 

Today’s news is extremely upsetting and comes as a great shock. It is almost inconceivable to think that we have lost such a great talent at such an early age. 

Gary Speed was tremendously gifted and I – along with millions of others - will always remember him as a legend in the game of football.”

David Cameron has also offered his condolences to Gary Speed's family. A statement from Downing Street said:

"The Prime Minister's thoughts are with Gary Speed’s family and friends on this very sad day for fans everywhere, especially in Wales."

3 Nov 2008 12:56:25

Lord Glentoran on sports funding

Lord_glentoranLast Thursday the House of Lords held a debate on the funding of sport, secured by Lord Glentoran. A Conservative peer, he won a gold medal at the 1964 Winter Olympics in bobsledding. He is now a shadow minister for both Northern Ireland and the Olympics.

The Government has sought to bask in the success of British athletes, but as Lord Glentoran made clear, it was Sir John Major who started the Lottery (which Labour opposed) and this Government does not have the proud record it claims:

"In 1994 the National Lottery was started by John Major and the last Conservative Government. Four funding bodies were set up: the Millennium Commission, and bodies for sport, for charities and for arts. Let us look at what Her Majesty’s Government have done with this legacy and how it has affected the funding of sport over their 10 years in office.

Looking first at the recent Olympic successes, I point out that grass-roots and elite cycling has received £49.8 million in lottery funds and £18.6 million from the Exchequer since 1997; that is 73 per cent lottery. Since 1997, swimming has received £332.8 million in lottery funds and £14.2 million from the Exchequer; that is 96 per cent lottery. For the Paralympics, lottery funding of disabled sports, NGBs and competitors has been more than six times the Exchequer funding since 1997—£72.7 million versus £11.6 million.


Funding of sport is down since 1997. Raids on the lottery for government pet projects have seen total spending on sport decline by £135 million—that is 25 per cent since 1997. More than 80 per cent of grass-roots and elite sports grants have come from the National Lottery. Poor budgeting is costing us our sporting legacy. The Government’s budget miscalculations and further lottery raids will cost sports distributors £70 million. Fifty-eight per cent of UK Sport grants and 83 per cent of Sport England grants come from lottery funds.

Some 800,000 children still do not get two hours of sport per week and 2.1 million children do no competitive sport.


Eighty-three per cent of grants going into grass-roots sport have come from the lottery this year. The total going into grass-roots sport now is £135 million less than it was in 1997. As a direct result of Gordon Brown’s raid on lottery cash, lottery funding going into grass-roots sport has fallen by nearly 50 per cent, from £397 million in 1997 to £209 million in 2006. Due to the Olympic raids, sport now gets only 13.5 per cent of lottery funding. About £70 million has been diverted from grass-roots sport to pay for the Olympic overspend."

There's nothing like cold hard facts when you want to make a point.