By Peter Hampshire
The fractious relationship between football teams from the Universities of Leeds and Sheffield dominated a tournament in Manchester.
Steeped in German culture and traditions, the Sauerkraut Cup entered its 14th year as its prestige continues to grow.
The competition started out quite small over a decade ago with three teams competing for the now famous jar of pickled cabbage. In this year’s edition, beating off nationwide opposition, teams from Sheffield and Leeds met in both semi-finals to add fuel to a rivalry simmering since a 2009 horror tackle.
Following two close-fought semis, both Sheffield teams defeated their neighbours to set up a friendly of sorts in the final, ultimately won on penalties following a last-minute equaliser in extra time.
Growing annually, the event drew an astonishing 200 people in the rare Manchester sunshine. Eleven teams such as Liverpool, Schwein’s Tigers from Lancaster and seven times winners VFB SLOG from Sheffield met to contest in two groups leading to the all-Sheffield final.
Sauerkraut returned to Manchester for the first time since 2010, which also saw a hive of activity and the first viewing of Sheffield’s now infamous Sauerkraut song. This year, while Sheffield dominated on-field proceedings, fans travelling in coach loads from Leeds certainly dominated proceedings on the sidelines.
The tournament is run by the DAAD, who organise German academic exchange programmes, alongside a different host University each year.
This time, the University of Manchester took the reins with Eva Adelseck helping to organise proceedings. She said: “Sauerkraut is all about the team spirit and showing that there is still support for German throughout the country. Apart from that it’s just great fun and worth the effort.”
A spokesperson from the DAAD, who currently face an uncertain future with impending Brexit, said: “It’s great publicity for us and a means of getting information out there about German studies.”
Manchester University organised an after-party for the weary players and sun-stricken fans, conducting a ceremony with awards such as best female player and top goalscorer.