With only five weeks of the new football season behind us, it’s still a little soon for reading too much into early season results, but three sides have so far maintained their 100 per cent records. The trio of Lanarkshire sides, Burnbank BC, Dalziel BC and Cleland BC are all playing their first season of eleven a side football, but it hasn't phased them in the CLYFA 2003 league after moving up from sevens.
Burnbank sit proudly on top with Dalziel closely behind in second place, both sides having twelve points from their four starts and only two goals separating the teams for the time being. Cleland are following the top two in fourth place with two wins from two. Youth Football Scotland managed to grab a quick word with two of the coaches, James McAuley from Dalziel Boys Club and Willie Kelly of Cleland Boys Club.
Dalziel coach James McAuley believes in fostering a togetherness amongst his players, saying “The ethos from a coaching point of view is to encourage the players to make the right decision. From a player and team point of view we challenge the boys to work together, play together and through this they will win together.”
James has been delighted with the progress his side have shown since he started working with the players. “We were playing seven a side last season so never kept track of the results but we had a mixed bag of results over the year" he said. “The boy’s started playing eleven-a-sides in August but played a few games in the league’s summer cup in June.
“I’ve worked with some of these players for five years now, most of the others for two to three years. There has definitely been a development in the boys technically and they are getting a better understanding of the game. Their ability and application has always been there though.”
The boys have taken the move to elevens really well. They have always been encouraged to maintain possession of the ball and the extra space seems to suit this. The good start is down to them taking what they worked on at sevens and combining this with what they learnt during the summer cup.”
James is hoping that his team can improve as the season plays out “The aim for the rest of the season is to build on what we have started. “A good run in the cups and a strong league campaign would be fantastic but it’s important we finish the season a better team than we started.”
Cleland coach Willie Kelly said “The boys have been playing eleven a side football since June. We took part in the Blantyre football festival in which we were unbeaten, but lost out narrowly after drawing 0-0 with Hamilton Accies, the eventual winners. We then reached the summer cup final after going on a run of eight unbeaten games before narrowly losing to Yett Farm 2-1 after extra time.”
On his sides great start to the season Willie told us that it has been built on the back of last season graft. “The guys have taken to eleven a side football brilliantly with our 100 per cent start to the league last year" he said. "We were unbeaten at seven-a-side in which we had two teams competing in the Monklands soccer sevens. This is all down to attitude, discipline and commitment, with great support from the parents.”
Cleland have been able to add to their squad and Willie hopes that the boys will appreciate their football this season. “Yes, we have retained the majority of the boys from sevens and added a couple of players who have had experience playing football with other clubs" he said. "Our squad is now complete. Our aim for the season is to continue to work hard and enjoy the experience.”