Cup win, por favor

The Sheffield Stags and Porcos Bravos after a game. David Thompson is the one holding the cup on the left

The Sheffield Stags and Porcos Bravos after a game. David Thompson is the one holding the cup on the left

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IT is the football tournament which started life as a hung-over kick-about between Sheffielders on a stag trip to Spain and a team of local lads.

Now… well, strictly speaking, The Anglo-Galician Cup is still a hung-over kick about between those Steel City boys and the Iberian mates they made that weekend in 2007.

Ray Ellis, of the Sheffield Stags, holds the Anglo-Galician Cup.

Ray Ellis, of the Sheffield Stags, holds the Anglo-Galician Cup.

But this Saturday, as the Stags (that’s our lot) prepare to take on the Porcos Bravos (that’s them, and it means Brave Boars) for the eighth time, it seems the bi-annual one-match tournament is taking on far wider cultural connotations.

For when the Spanish lads arrive this weekend, they will not only be hoping to win the cup – a specially-made monster two-pint vase – they will also be bearing gifts from the civic leaders of hometown Pontevedra for our very own Lord Mayor Sylvia Dunkley. She, in turn, has agreed to watch the match and present the winners trophy before taking the two teams for tea at Sheffield Town Hall.

After that, the eight-a-side game will be toasted with a special Anglo-Galician Cup ale brewed at Kelham Island Brewery and a tour of Sheffield’s famed Valley of Beer.

On Sunday, they will enjoy complimentary seats at the Steel City derby – there’s a mix of Blades and Owls among both sides – before a special gig featuring several local bands is hosted at the iconic Yellow Arch Studios, in Neepsend, to round the weekend off.

Porcos Bravos 2010

Porcos Bravos 2010

The conclusion? This is no longer just a booze-born run-around. It’s a fully-fledged cultural exchange created, not from above by big business or civic ties, but rather through fondly forged cross-European friendship.

Not that there isn’t more than a little national rivalry when these lawyers, graphic designers, barmen and steel workers pull on their boots.

“They’re staying at The Harley in the city centre,” says David Thompson, the man whose stag do started the whole thing. “As far as I’m concerned that’s a great location. On one hand, it’s city central and a top pub, on the other it stays open until about 4am, so they won’t be too fresh for the morning kick-off.

“We went over there in May and lost, which makes it 4-3 to us in the series so we’re looking for revenge.”

The 38-year-old civil servant of Station Road, Woodhouse, thinks for a second.

“It’s all good natured, though, of course.”

Another second.

“Although, we’re getting a referee for the first time this year – there’s usually a few contentious challenges flying in.”

That first game back in 2007 had no such officials.

David chose to go to the medieval Spanish town because his dad had lived there some years before. He already knew one or two of the lads and they arranged the match which the Stags won 4-3.

“After that they came over here for a stag do,” says David. “We were sat in The Fat Cat pub after that second game and someone said we should make a trophy and do it every year – so we have.”

The Anglo-Galician Cup kicks off 11am at Gym Plus, Crookes.

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