My first year at uni

This is my own personal view on my first year at uni. This isn’t designed to be a guide to uni or anything, it’s simply my views on how the past few months have been.

Freshers

Moving to Liverpool in September was the most exciting day of my life. I couldn’t sleep at all and I just wanted to get going. As I travelled to Liverpool with my mum and my grandparents, the journey just felt like it was never going to end.

Once we reached Liverpool, the traffic was very tedious and it had taken us more than an hour as the entrance into the city was almost at a standstill.

Arriving at my uni accommodation, my family were all in tears as I hugged my mum and grandma to say goodbye, my Grandad stood in the background putting on a brave face but we all knew he was gutted I was leaving, he just didn’t want to show it!

As horrible as it was seeing them drive away, it was so exciting having an independent life for the first time. Knowing that if I had any problems I couldn’t just walk 10 minutes down the road to my grandparents to wait for things to blow over, I would have to deal with them myself. As everyone started arriving, I met my flatmates one by one and we started drinking in the flat at about 2, maybe 3 o’clock. It felt like we had known each other for years and the conversation was flowing. I could just tell these people were going to be great mates.

As the night time approached we headed upstairs to meet other flats, every conversation was the same, what’s your name? What course are you studying? Where are you from?

A bit of advice for anyone reading this who’s going to uni in September, think of something interesting to talk about instead of the above questions, there’s more chance of people remembering you.

As the nights flew by, I met more and more people, all so friendly and great company. Within a couple of weeks it felt great to be in the presence of new people who know nothing about you and you can just reinvent yourself as anyone you want. Just don’t lie about your achievements as you’ll just end up looking a fool, the amount of people who claim they could’ve been pro footballers if it hadn’t been for an injury is ridiculous.

By the end of freshers my liver had taken a massive hit but it was definitely worth it.

First term

The first term seemed to be a case of just easing people into uni life and there wasn’t much pressure on anyone to do too much work. I was supposed to be in for 11 hours a week, so around two hours a day on average. But most days we would be finished within an hour and we’d be free to go. I feel like the lectures and seminars should’ve run for the full two hours considering the money we were paying to be there.

The start of November I had no money left in my account due to the small student loan I received and I couldn’t afford to do a shop at the Lidl across the road. I sat in my room most days feeling depressed, staring at the same four walls not really enjoying myself as I had no money to do anything. I had so much free time to just have thoughts running round and round my head. I hit a personal rock bottom and didn’t really want to be at uni at that point. I missed seeing my family, making sure my mum and sister were alright and having my grandmas homemade chips every Sunday.

I started looking for a job and I was in luck as I received a phone call for an interview at William Hill. This was a great opportunity for me as I love my sport so this is a job I would actually enjoy and my degree fits in with my work. It was 16 hours a week which was about right as anything more would’ve been hard to handle during term time.

After a month of having to lend off my mates to get by, I finally got my first paycheque and I had never been so relieved. It felt great being able to buy nice things to eat instead of one pound pizzas from the go local next door.

Christmas

One of the worst things about having a job at uni was the fact I couldn’t return home for the full Christmas break. Instead, I was working the 23rd and the 28th of December so I only managed to squeeze in four days at home.

New year was ridiculously lonely as I didn’t see anyone in person apart from when I was working. It was driving me insane not being able to speak to anyone. I watched the new year celebrations lying in bed with a Chinese whilst everyone else was out getting drunk. It was worth it though as I love my job and the customers I see everyday.

Second term

February was probably my favourite month at uni as I met Michael Owen and other famous figures and started taking things a bit more seriously in life. I realised who my true mates are and who I would actually want by my side in tough situations and who would run at the first sign of trouble. I lost a lot of people around this time but it felt good knowing that I had made such good mates for life. I remember the night of paddy’s day we were all sat in someone’s flat just opening up to each other and it was amazing just feeling so valued. And we were all in the same boat of knowing that we were all boss mates and it felt like we could tell each other anything.

In terms of actual university, it was pretty much the same as the last term, there didn’t seem to be any real push and everything seemed half hearted. I think everyone, even some of the lecturers, just had the idea that if people fail, they can resit in the summer. My lecturers were happy enough to look at any work I produced in my own time and I couldn’t be anymore grateful for the feedback they gave me, but I felt like my work in my own time was getting me further than work I produced in seminars.

In April, me and others off my course got to go backstage at the darts and meet Dave Clark. I was invited to the Grand National Preview Night where I met Katie and Ruby Walsh.

End of term

As things started to wind down for the end of term, everyone was discussing if they were going to stay in Liverpool over summer, or go home. Since a few of my mates said they were staying, I decided to tell my work I’d stay in Liverpool and work full time over summer as I’d rather be working and earning money than being sat bored. Apart from family, I didn’t really have anything to go back to Hull for so it made sense just to stay put over summer. I’ll still get back every now and then but it’ll be weird not seeing my mum and grandparents all the time.

Verdict on the first year of uni?

The first year of uni was a disappointment in terms of the actual uni part of the uni life. I don’t feel like I got anywhere near nine grande worth of education. But in terms of me growing as a person, meeting new people it was one hundred percent worth it. I’ve made friends and memories for life and I’ve grown as a person. Uni revealed a lot of home truths about me and others and the difference between me at the start of the year compared to now is so pleasing.

In conclusion, uni was definitely worth it for the social side of things but the cost of the education is daylight robbery.

St Helens vs Hull F.C. preview

SQUAD NEWS

St Helens

St Helens have named an unchanged side ahead of their clash with Hull F.C. at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Justin Holbrook’s men have lost just once in their opening nine games so they will be hoping to carry on their fantastic start on Friday night.

Saints 19-man Squad: 1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Matty Smith, 9. James Roby, 10. Kyle Amor, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 18. Danny Richardson, 19. Regan Grace, 20. Matty Lees, 23. Ben Barba.

Hull F.C.

Hull F.C. are welcoming back a few big names for this game with Sika Manu, Carlos Tuimavave, Danny Houghton and Jamie Shaul all expected to return to the team.

The Black and Whites have turned around their fortune around in recent weeks and look to be getting back to their best; they’ve won their last three games and will be looking to make it four against the Saints.

Hull FC 19-man Squad: 1. Jamie Shaul, 3. Carlos Tuimavave, 4. Josh Griffin, 5. Fetuli Talanoa, 6. Albert Kelly, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Scott Taylor, 9. Danny Houghton, 12. Mark Minichiello, 13. Josh Bowden, 14. Jake Connor, 15. Chris Green, 17. Danny Washbrook, 20. Brad Fash, 21. Sika Manu, 22. Jez Litten, 23. Mickey Paea, 24. Jack Logan, 26. Jordan Lane.

HEAD TO HEAD

The last time these two sides met, a Marc Sneyd penalty was the only difference. The half back kicked a penalty from 50 yards to snatch the points for the Yorkshire-men.

Both of these sides have won their last three games which is a massive achievement over the tough Easter period.

Sometimes the week after Easter can see performance levels drop due to fatigue, but this game still promises to be a classic, given that both sides have class and depth all over the field.

KEY BATTLE- James Roby V Danny Houghton

Danny Houghton and James Roby are two of the best hookers in the English game. Hull F.C. are a different team when Houghton is playing compared to when he’s not, his efficiency in defence helps the forwards around him recover and it takes a bit of pressure off them.

On the other side, James Roby is a smart hooker and he will exploit any weakness in the defensive line and make teams pay. He makes shooting out of dummy half look easy and with Ben Barba supporting him, Hull F.C. need to make sure they slow down the play the ball as much as they can to not allow the number 9 any momentum.

THE IMPORTANT DETAILS

Date: 6th April 2017

Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium

Kick-off: 19:45pm

Referee: Robert Hicks

Wigan Warriors 44 – 6 Hull KR Review

Wigan Warriors bounced back from their Good Friday derby defeat with a hammering of struggling side Hull KR on Monday afternoon.

MATCH DETAILS

Wigan Warriors eased past Hull KR in a one sided Easter Monday affair as Liam Marshall ran riot at the DW Stadium, with the young winger racing in for four of his side’s eight tries.

From the first minute the hosts dominated proceedings, but they had to wait 25 minutes to break the deadlock with Sam Tomkins scooting over from close range.

The floodgates then opened as Liam Farrell hit a fantastic line to extend the home sides lead.

Things went from bad to worse for the Robins before half-time as George Williams managed to find Marshall with a cut-out ball before returning the ball to Williams on the inside who dove over.

The Warriors still had time for two more tries before the half time hooter, as Marshall grabbed another try through a perfectly weighted Tomkins kick.

Farrell then grabbed his second off a Williams grubber kick just to the left of the posts.

Rovers finally got themselves on the scoreboard through an individual play by Chris Atkin, as the England Knights man chased down his own kick and fought to get the ball down over the line.

That was as good as it got for the away team though, as slick hands on Wigan’s left edge and a Sam Tomkins chip into the in goal area saw Marshall pounce to collect his second.

The left edge struck again as a penalty restart saw Williams throw another brilliant cut-out ball for Marshall to score spectacularly in the corner to complete his hat-trick.

He had a fourth soon after, as Wigan kicked deep for the wide man to chase down and pile more misery on the visitors.

On the full-time whistle Tomkins knocked over a penalty goal to finish off the rout and end the Warriors’ Easter schedule with a victory, to stay within touching distance of league leaders St Helens.

Hull KR remain second bottom with just two wins from their opening nine games.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED

Gabe Hamlin debut

Gabe Hamlin left the field to a round of applause following his impressive debut. The former South Sydney Rabbitohs youngster didn’t look out of place down the middle of the pitch and proved he is definitely one for the future.

The 20 year old looks like he could be a fantastic find from down under if he can build on his debut performance, giving Shaun Wane a selection headache.

Field Position

Hull KR struggled to work their way into the final third of the half during the first 40, as the Wigan pack dominated proceedings. They struggled to complete and when they did the Rovers halves were forced finish their sets with a kick from inside their own half on a number of occasions.

Combine that with their lowly league position and their inability to get any points from Easter, Tim Sheens will be worried about the increasing probability of a bottom four finish.

Man Of The Match- Sam Tomkins Wigan Warriors

It may seem harsh to deny Marshall this award following a four-try display, however the all-round performance of Tomkins was one of the most important factors leading to Wigan’s win. The fullback was dangerous with the ball in hand and with the boot, as he shone in attack to edge closer to his best.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Wigan Warriors Head Coach Shaun Wane

“There was some really good performances, I’m really pleased with that today. I like what Romain (Navarrete) and Gabe (Hamlin) gave me. Easter Monday is a difficult game because the players are still a bit sore from Friday but I thought our attitude was outstanding.”

Hull KR Head Coach Tim Sheens

“We were too indisciplined and we kept piggy backing them out of their own half. With the little ball we did have, we lost possession early in the tackle count too often and we didn’t find touch with a penalty.

“Those are the things you just can’t do at this level and we are burning ourselves in terms of energy. You can’t keep tackling a team of Wigan’s quality and as the fatigue set in we made more errors. People were trying to solve things on their own rather than working as a unit and we need to sort that out.“

THE RESULT

Wigan Warriors 44

Tries: Tomkins (25), Farrell (30, 39), Williams (33), Marshall (36, 50, 68, 76)

Goals: Tomkins 6/9

Drop Goals: n/a

Hull KR 6

Tries: Atkin (45)

Goals: Shaw 1/1

Drop Goals: n/a

SQUADS

Wigan Warriors: 1. Sam Tomkins; 2. Tom Davies, 3. Dan Sarginson, 4, Oliver Gildart, 22, Liam Marshall; 6. George Williams, 34, Josh Woods; 10. Ben Flower, 9. Thomas Leuluai, 25. Romain Navarette; 19. Willie Isa, 12. Liam Farrell, 14. John Bateman. Subs: 11. Joel Tomkins, 15. Ryan Sutton, 23. Josh Ganson, 30. Gabe Hamlin.

Hull KR: 1. Adam Quinlan; 5. Ryan Shaw, 3. Thomas Minns, 22. Liam Salter, 36. Justin Carney; 24. Chris Atkin, 20. Matty Marsh; 14. Lee Jewitt, 19. Tommy Lee, 10. Mose Masoe; 11. Maurice Blair, 12. James Greenwood, 17. Chris Clarkson. Subs: 8. Nick Scruton, 15. James Donaldson, 23. Josh Johnson, 28. Will Dagger.

Referee: Ben Thaler

St Helens 21-18 Wigan

A late Joel Tomkins try wasn’t enough to inspire a Wigan Warriors comeback as St Helens grabbed their seventh win in eight games to stay on top of the Super League table with a 21-18 triumph at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

The Warriors were hit with a blow pre-game as Sam Tomkins was ruled out through illness, handing an opportunity to Morgan Escaré at full back.

The Frenchman opened Wigan’s scoring account through a penalty in the fourth minute but this was the only time the Warriors would score in the first half as Saints touched down through Ben Barba and Zeb Taia.

Jon Wilkin offloaded to Luke Thompson who gave the ball to Barba, before the full back ran round Escarè to put the Saints infront.

Five minutes before half time, the Merseysiders crossed again as James Roby scooted from dummy half and sent Zeb Taia crashing over the line with three Wigan defenders.

Wigan opened the scoring in the second half as Joel Tomkins scored after George Williams’ delightful inside ball.

The away team edged themselves in front as a loose Sean O’loughlin pass found Willie Isa who scooped it up to get his name on the scoreboard.

Danny Richardson levelled the scores with a penalty to leave an exciting finish to the game.

Regan Grace put the Saints back in front with five minutes to go as a play which started on their own fourty saw several sets of hands touch the ball as Ryan Morgan found a gap on the right edge. The next tackle saw the ball shipped across to the left hand side allowing the young Welshman to score in the corner.

Danny Richardson then extended the lead to seven points with a drop goal, before Joel Tomkins grabbed a late consolation try, albeit in vein.

WHAT WE’VE LEARNED

Ben Barba early favourite for Man of Steel?

Once again, Ben Barba shone to help Saints win. Saints fans should be extremely grateful that they’re able to witness such a talent pull on the red vee even if it is for just one year. If the full back isn’t the favourite for the Steve Prescott Man of Steel award then who is?

Tomkins loss a huge blow

The late withdrawal of Sam Tomkins must’ve had an effect on Wigan’s game plan. Escaré is extremely talented in his own right but Tomkins offers that something a little bit extra in a big game such as this.

Escaré concussion

Wigan can hold their heads up high considering how well they dealt with the disruption Escaré’s concussion caused.

Losing both full backs would’ve caused major readjustments and the Warriors did well to deal with them and go in front.

Game management cost Wigan

Going into the final minute, Wigan should’ve turned down the kick at goal. This was a major mistake as who knows what could’ve happened if Wigan were able to throw the ball around at the death instead of letting the clock run down.

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING

Wigan Warriors boss Shaun Wane “I can’t put into words how bad I feel at the moment. The players are devastated- this is a very important game in our calendar but we’re a tight group.

“We’ve played well this year and did some good things today. In the cold light of day, when I watch that back, with the disruption we had during the game, I’ll be ok with it.”

Saints coach Justin Holbrook: “For us to come through and win, it was great.

“Some people pointed out we hadn’t won one in eight years so to win today was great for the players, club, the fans and town. I was very proud to watch the boys win today.”

THE RESULT

ST HELENS 21

Tries: Barba, Taia, Grace

Goals: Richardson (4)

Drop Goals:  Richardson

WIGAN 18

Tries: Tomkins (2), Isa

Goals: Williams (3)

Drop Goals: n/a

SQUADS

ST HELENS: 23. Ben Barba; 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4. Mark Percival, 19. Regan Grace; 1. Jonny Lomax, 18. Danny Richardson; 10. Kyle Amor, 9. James Roby, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dom Peyroux, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin.

Subs: 6. Theo Fages, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14. Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles.

WIGAN: 20. Morgan Escare; 2. Tom Davies, 14. John Bateman, 4. Oliver Gildart, 5. Joe Burgess; 6. George Williams, 7. Sam Powell; 8. Tony Clubb, 9. Thomas Leuluai, 10. Ben Flower, 19. Willie Isa, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean OíLoughlin.

Subs: 11. Joel Tomkins, 15. Ryan Sutton, 17. Taulima Tautai, 34. Josh Woods.

St Helens vs Wigan Preview

Good Friday sees St Helens lock horns with Wigan Warriors at the Totally Wicked Stadium.

Squad News

The Saints have made one change to their squad with Ryan Morgan replacing the injured Adam Swift.

The table toppers come into the game full of confidence after defeating Hull KR 30-6 at Craven Park. Only Leeds Rhinos have been able to dethrone them this season so the home team will be looking to find another two points tomorrow.

St Helens Squad – 1. Jonny Lomax, 2. Tommy Makinson, 3. Ryan Morgan, 4 Mark Percival, 6. Theo Fages, 7. Matty Smith, 9. James Roby, 10, Kyle Amor, 11. Zeb Taia, 12. Jon Wilkin, 13. Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, 14, Luke Douglas, 15. Morgan Knowles, 16. Luke Thompson, 17. Dominic Peyroux, 18. Danny Richardson, 19. Regan Grace, 20. Matty Lees, 23. Ben Barba.

Wigan Warriors

Romain Navarette and Josh Woods come into the squad in the place of Morgan Escaré and Gabe Hamlin.

The Warriors eased past Huddersfield Giants 48-10 in their last outing. Shaun Wane’s men have just the one L on their record which came away from home against Warrington. They’ve beaten Salford, Hull FC, Widnes, Wakefield and Huddersfield to be positioned second in the league.

Wigan Warriors Squad

1. Sam Tomkins, 2. Tom Davies, 4. Oliver Gildart, 5. Joe Burgess, 6. George Williams, 7. Sam Powell, 8. Tony Clubb, 9. Thomas Leuluai, 10. Ben Flower, 11. Joel Tomkins, 12. Liam Farrell, 13. Sean O’Loughlin, 14. John Bateman, 15. Ryan Sutton, 17. Taulima Tautai, 19. Willie Isa, 22. Liam Marshall, 25. Romain Navarrete, 34. Josh Woods.

Head to Head

Wigan ran out 26 – 16 winners when these two sides last met in the Super 8s last year. Oliver Gildart scored a brace to help the away side to a win the week after their Challenge Cup Final loss.

The last five meetings have seen Wigan win three and saints win two games.

This fixture always has that something a little bit ‘extra’ about it so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a few handbags if the tensions rise and it could get very physical.

Key Battle – Ben Barba v Sam Tomkins

Two of the biggest names in the league will square off opposite each other as Saints Ben Barba and Wigan’s Sam Tomkins will both be playing at full back for their sides.

Barba has torn teams to pieces on many occasions this season and scored two tries at Hull KR last week. Currently leading the try scoring charts, Barba uses his lightning pace and power to breeze past defenders.

Sam Tomkins of old has returned as of late. The former New Zealand Warriors man has added a new dimension to the Wigan squad which has helped them score some fantastic tries this season through Tomkins assists.

The Important Details

Date: 30th March

Venue: Totally Wicked Stadium

Kick off: 3:15pm

Referee: Robert Hicks

Easter Holidays

I’ve got a fairly hectic Easter coming up. On Monday I’m heading back to Hull from Monday to Thursday to see the family for a bit.

I haven’t even told my mum I’m going to be home yet as she thinks I’m working so that will be nice when I’m home to see the surprise on her face.

I’m probably not going to do much whilst I’m in Hull, I’ll more than likely end up just sat at my grandmas watching daytime television. On Thursday I’ll be getting the train back to Liverpool as I’m working the Easter weekend from Good Friday to Easter Sunday, I’m so gutted that I’m missing the derby as I have never missed a derby game in Hull so it’s going to be weird getting the updates on my phone.

No one will be at my student accommodation since most of them are going home for Easter so I’ll probably just walk down to the docks after work just to relax and keep my head clear, there’s genuinely nowhere better to visit.

On Easter Monday, Rovers are playing Wigan at the DW Stadium so that should be good…oh and it’s my birthday!

I’ll finally be turning 19. I’m getting a lift back to Hull so it should be a late evening return, I’ll probably spend the full day with a hangover and I’ll just want to sleep when I get home, it certainly won’t be the most exciting birthday night.

Once again, I’ll probably spend the next couple of days chilling at my grandmas doing next to nothing. I might go out for a meal with family but apart from that it should be chilled.

I’m hoping to organise a few of the Hull Wyke lads to all meet up as we haven’t seen each other in over two years and it’s sad how we don’t really keep in touch so hopefully we should be able to have a laugh.

On the Thursday I’ll be returning to Liverpool as one of the lecturers, Tim, is sorting us media passes to the Premier League darts at the Echo Arena, what an experience that should be!

Friday morning will see me back on a train to Hull so I can spend as much time with family as possible, something I haven’t done as much as I could when I’ve previously been back for one reason or another. On the Saturday the Robins are playing Widnes at home, it’ll be my first time back at Craven Park since the opening night of the season, that seems like an age ago.

Finally, on the Sunday morning I’ll be on another train back to Liverpool to end the Easter holidays.

I imagine most students will save a bit of money not having to do anything whilst they’re home but all the train journeys are going to cost a fortune.

In a way I wish I could relax more whilst in Hull but I know that the busy schedule will be worth it in the long term and it’s just a sign of growing up and not having life easy anymore.

It should be fun!

Just a quick update

Just so people know, I’ve recently changed my phone number so don’t try calling on the number ending 909.

I changed my number because I felt as though too many people who I’m not longer in contact with had it and it was a bit uncomfortable. Excluding family, I’ve handed my number to ten people, even two of them are work. Now that I feel as though my life is heading in a different direction to a few months ago I’m trying to get a fresh start and only be in contact with people who I actually know on a personal level.

The other night I spent a good three hours unfollowing and unfriending people on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook and it actually was quite refreshing. I used to look down my news feed and think, ‘who the hell are they?’ but now it’s just the people I’m closest to.

If anyone wants my number if they message me I’ll more than likely give them it but I just didn’t want anyone and everyone having my number without me exactly knowing who, especially the cold calling companies, those people do my head in!