Scottish no-show allows English pub teams a moment of glory

Ladies Pub Cup champions from the Moline Cross in Stockton-on-Tees

BRITAIN’S pub team football champions have been crowned – and in a shock result, they aren’t Scottish.

Very much out of step with the current run of form of the Scottish national side, the TNT Sports Pub Cup was won by a ladies’ team from the Moline Cross in Stockton-on-Tees, and a mens’ team from the Mauretania in Tyneside.

While these doubtless deserving English winners celebrate, Scotland’s licensed trade will already – we hope – be hatching plans to make sure the celebrations happen north of the border in 2024.

Leaving aside old rivalries, at least for a moment, the fact is there actually weren’t any Scottish heats of the TNT Sports Pub Cup competition this year, as it was undergoing something of a reboot following the transition from BT Sport.

One Scottish team did take part, representing The Persevere Bar from Edinburgh, who travelled down the coast to compete in the Newcastle heat, but at time of publication, the Persy management had yet to respond to SLTN’s request for post-match comment on their performance.

Organisers at TNT Sports stressed that the competition is very much open to Scottish teams, and the hope is to return to holding Scottish heats in the future, particularly if enough Scottish pub teams show interest.

But as it was, hundreds of teams entered the 2023 Pub Cup, competing at regional heats in London, Cardiff, Manchester and Newcastle, to produce 16 finalists who met last month at the Football Association’s St George’s Park in Burton-on-Trent for the finals.

The teams on the day weren’t just playing for glory – the tournament’s winning pubs receive free TNT Sports for a year plus a £1000 voucher. The runners up received a £500 voucher each.

The Moline Cross captured the women’s trophy in a penalty shootout win against Suffolk’s The Three Tuns after the final finished scoreless.

Moline Cross pub manager, Kendra Bertram, said: “We are absolutely delighted and so proud of our amazing girls. They are regulars here so this is fantastic for us – as is having free TNT Sports for the year.”

Mens’ Pub Cup champions, from the Mauretania in Tyneside

The Mauretania made it a North-East double, storming to a 2-0 victory in the men’s final against Preston’s The Wishing Well, who were also runners-up in last season’s tournament.

Maureen Pearce, who has run the Trust Inns pub for 12 years, said: “We are so proud of the boys. They are like family to us and are in the pub supporting us all of the time. We have had the trophies on display on the bar and they’ve had a wonderful celebration.”

Finals day also featured a high-scoring charity match between a Pub Trade team and a side representing TNT Sports, which raised £2750 for England’s Licensed Trade Charity.

Director of commercial customers at TNT Sports, Alasdair Collis, said: “The TNT Sports Pub Cup is an exceptional way of celebrating the vital link between pubs and their communities. This year we were delighted to be able to use the world class facilities at St George’s Park for a charity game to raise funds and awareness for the Licensed Trade Charity at a time when many people need support more than ever before.

“Congratulations to all of those who took part in the charity game and the tournament itself, especially our champions for this year, The Mauretania and The Moline Cross.”

The charity match saw the TNT Sports team emerge victorious after a convincing 9-2 win over a Pub Trade Select team, which included representatives from Punch Pubs and Marston’s, alongside licensees, trade media and suppliers.

The Trade versus TNT charity match teams

Former England international goalkeepers David James and Siobhan Chamberlain, along with defender Phil Jagielka, helped to coach the two sides in the charity match. Crucially, £250 was to be donated to the Licensed Trade Charity for every goal scored, so the resulting glut of scoring was great news for the charity.

Launched earlier this month, TNT Sports presents the premium live sports rights previously carried by BT Sport, including the Premier League, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, UEFA Europa Conference League, Gallagher Premiership Rugby, Heineken Champions Cup, EPCR Challenge Cup, MotoGP, Cricket, UFC, Boxing and WWE.