As 2013 arrived, it brought with it exciting times for the University football club as a whole. The death of promising young footballer Craig Gowans, itself a tragedy, has created a scholarship system which has allowed this club to flourish. No longer are players forced to relocate to the USA to continue a footballing and academic dream. Redemption can now be achieved on Scottish soil, a fitting tribute to the memory of a young man lost.
Quality sweeps throughout the six teams available to students of the University with the teams from 1st to 5th being the highest ranked in the country. The system has created strength throughout culminating in the 1st team’s appearance in the William Hill Scottish Cup this season; a vindication for the University’s faith in the system.
Fresh from last season’s incredible haul of five trophies, the first eleven have continued their fine form under the tutelage of ex-Falkirk manager Eddie May. As the cold snap enforced a winter break the team lie in second place in the East of Scotland League, five points behind rivals Spartans but with three games in hand. Defending their title will not be an easy task but they have began valiantly losing only once, 4-0 away to third placed Whitehill Welfare, and beating top of the table Spartans 2-1
away from home to have 22 points after 9 games.
Alongside the Saturday league they play in the BUCS Mars Football Premier North and sit mid-table after eight games, with nine points collected via two wins and three draws. A 5-0 win at home to Sheffield-Hallam a notable success in what has been a somewhat disappointing Wednesday campaign. They do however remain in the quarter finals of the Queens Park Shield as the 2013 season still offers plenty of incentives for the first eleven.
The ‘People’s 1’s’ as they have been come known have performed superbly in the first half of the season under the management of former 1st XI manager Alan Taylor, ex-Hibernian player Guillaume Beuzelin and Michael McPake. Playing in the BUCS Scottish 1A against four 1st XI teams, the squad finished the year atop the table needing just two points from their final two games to clinch the title. Winning four, drawing one and losing one is an incredible achievement and they will look to finish the job which has been started so well.
The team also remain in the BUCS Football Trophy with a quarter-final tie away to Edinburgh University next up. A memorable 2-1 victory over Leeds University a highlight of the season so far as they recovered from a goal down to proceed in yet another competition.
On a Saturday the team are continuing their form from a Wednesday, currently sitting mid table despite having only managed six games due to inclement weather. Historically slow starters due to the league starting before the students return from the academic break, they have given themselves a great chance of achieving the promotion that has eluded them over previous seasons.
The ‘Polar Bears’ have excelled under the stewardship of Tommy Craig in recent seasons and achieved the double last year; winning their Wednesday league and being promoted to the top division on a Saturday.
They have continued their success remaining unbeaten on a Saturday with 4 wins and a draw meaning they are exceeding even their own expectations.
Having been considered relegation candidates by their opponents at the start of the season, a 4-1 win away to Bonnybridge certainly caused ructions in what will be a closely fought league this season. On a Wednesday they have consolidated their position in Division 3A, gaining eight points from six games to lie third as the season climax approaches. Wins home and away over Dundee University 1st XI gives further evidence how far this team has improved.
Having achieved three promotions in the last four seasons, the 4th team have shown how far the level of quality extends throughout the club. Under Creag Robertson’s leadership, the Falkirk development manager has succeeded in establishing a flowing football style that the team has never wavered from in moving through the leagues.
This season they have struggled to find top form in Division 4A and lie at the bottom although they have only played four of their eight games so all is by no means lost. Positive early season results against Edinburgh’s 4th XI and Glasgow’s 2nd XI gave a successful base but they reach the break in need of results in the second half of the season.
Stirling introduced a 5th team two seasons ago as a means of giving as many members as possible a chance to play. Under the student management of Ryan Mahoney and Jono Cooper the team finished third in their first season and losing out on promotion on head-to-head record last year. A testament to the standard throughout the club, the 5th team lost out to Edinburgh Napier’s 3rd XI with only one team promoted from a league of 10 teams.
This season they have remained at the top end of the table, winning two, drawing one and losing one; lagging behind only Abertay and St Andrews 2nd XI’s in their quest for promotion. First team player Chris Geddes has taken over coaching duties and he will be looking to maintain the team’s success for the rest of the season.
The 6th XI was created in the same vein as the 5th team and they currently play against colleges from the Glasgow area. Success has been limited in this set-up as the club uses the squad to give players game time. Results are not recorded and the team is run by students each week.
Women’s 1st XI
Stirling Women’s team, coached by Sports Studies lecturer Emma Lyons, remain undefeated this season and currently sit in 2nd place with four wins and a draw from their five games this season. With two games in hand on St Andrew’s atop the table, victory will see them eclipse their rivals. Two wins over Dundee University 1st XI provided highlights for the league season as well as scoring 17 goals and conceding just eight. They remain in the Scottish Conference Cup, a home tie with Glasgow Caledonian 1st XI for a place in the semi final providing another aim for the second half of the season.
Every team has something to play for as the second half of the season approaches. With success now ingrained in Stirling University Football Club across all levels, the trophy haul at the season’s close should represent yet another victorious season for the club as a whole.
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