By Ewan Mowat
Strathclyde University Football Club (SUFC) two first teams have had excellent seasons this year: SUFC 1s compete in BUCS 3A, and SUFC 2s in BUCS 5A
The 2012-13 season, which SUFC approached with much confidence, ended up as a disappointment overall. BUCS teams SUFC 1s and SUFC 2s both missed out on promotion by one position in BUCS 3A and 5A.
With the previous season’s shortcomings fresh in their mind, the 2013-14 SUFC Committee set high, but achievable targets for their sides; they were to win their BUCS leagues.
The Committee were confident that the goals could be achieved, especially with the introduction of a new manager through the Sports Union’s PCIS scheme. Andy Thomson, an ex-pro who boasts scoring 195 career goals as well as being the last Scot to score at the old Wembley, was appointed as manager.
BUCS leagues began in early October, one week after the SUFC 1st years had won the Inter-Varsity Freshers Tournament for the third consecutive year. Andy Thomson’s new charges, SUFC 1s, began with a derby against Glasgow 2s, winning 5-0 and setting a tone for what was to be an excellent season. SUFC 1s won every game in the first semester – 3 in the Cup, 5 in the league – which ended with a hard fought 4-3 victory over Glasgow Caledonian 1s, who had emerged as SUFC’s main title rivals. The Andy Thomson factor was clearly evident on a Wednesday and a Saturday!
SUFC 2s got their campaign off to a poor start, losing at home to Napier 2s. Player/manager Robbie Paterson managed to turn this around and although SUFC 2s went out of the Cup at the group stage, they won 3 out of the 4 remaining league games of the semester, drawing the other. This series of results put SUFC 2s top of a tight BUCS 5A at Christmas; a position they wouldn’t relinquish lightly.
February brought about the return of BUCS fixtures, with all three teams having some huge games as they strived to achieve their goals. SUFC 1s started uncharacteristically poorly; drawing with Dundee 1s in the league, before losing to the same team in the Cup quarter final a week later. It was the second consecutive year that Dundee had put SUFC out at that stage, the only saving grace being that the defeat wasn’t in the league. With fixtures being postponed and other results going their way, SUFC approached their two remaining league fixtures knowing that one win would secure the BUCS 3A title. The decisive match against Stirling was postponed, meaning that a home derby against title challengers Glasgow Caledonian presented an opportunity to wrap up the league. Showing tremendous attitude for 90 minutes, SUFC 1s routed their city rivals 4-0 in one of their best performances of the season .Two weeks later, Andy Thomson took a team full of new faces to Stirling 3s to finish off the season, as he surveyed talent for next year in BUCS 2A. The inexperienced side won 5-1, finishing off a fantastic, unbeaten league season in style.
SUFC 2s faced Napier in their first fixture of 2014, anxious for a win that would keep them top of the table and give them revenge for the opening day defeat. A comfortable 6-2 victory left Paterson’s side knowing that a win against promotion rivals Aberdeen 2s would secure the BUCS 5A title. As with SUFC 1s, this pivotal match was postponed, meaning that it had been 4 weeks without a fixture before they eventual made the long trip to Aberdeen. In a tense game, SUFC 2s emerged victorious with a slender 1-0, giving the Club their first of what was to be 3 titles in 3 weeks. The following week, SUFC 2s lost 2-0 at home to Stirling 4s, ending the season on a slightly sour note. Paterson, however, conceded that with the game having little meaning, the team didn’t perform to their best, and many of the players were still basking in the glory of the previous week.
SUFC took part in the Glasgow Taxis Cup in March, looking to win back the title they relinquished to Glasgow University the previous year. The GTC fell the week after SUFC 1s had beaten Glasgow Caledonian to win the league, so the Strathclyders were confident of picking up their third title in as many weeks. The first fixture was a tense match against Glasgow. The match lacked a creative spark, but was also missing an element of aggression, which had come to define this fixture in previous Cups. Despite having the upper hand, SUFC had to settle for a 0-0 draw and a penalty shoot-out. Despite SUFC missing their second kick, they emerged victorious; winning 5-4 in sudden death. Caledonian then sprung a surprise to beat a lacklustre Glasgow side, and leave the final match as the decider. SUFC had no intention of letting Caledonian get revenge for the BUCS 3A title match in the previous week, and promptly went about dismantling their rivals once more. SUFC ran out very comfortable 5-0 winners and continued a very successful March for the Club.
Looking to next season
With two BUCS promotions, there will be some very tough games awaiting SUFC 1s and 2s in the 2014-15 season, but they have reason to approach next year with confidence after some stellar performances throughout the year. The first aim must be survival, but there’s no reason that both sides cannot endeavour to finish higher up the table and -why not? – Back-to-back promotions.
To keep up to date with SUFC visit our website (www.strathclydeunifc.weebly.com) which has information on the club as well as match reports and player and team statistics. Alternatively, add us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/strathfootball), or follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/StrathFootball).