David Andrews, coach of Eastend Colts U16s, has hailed his ‘unplayable’ side after they were crowned CSFA B League Champions.
The Colts won 16 of 18 games en route to the title, losing only once in a hugely successful year.
And Andrews could not praise his players highly enough for the way they’ve performed this season:
“I’ve never seen this many players with such strong character,” he said. “They never know when they’re beaten.
“They’re so mentally strong and, obviously, have quite a lot of talent as well. To play the way they do as a team is incredible; the way they use the ball and shift it around is fantastic.
“When we’re on form we’re almost unplayable.”
It’s been a rapid rise for a team completing only its fourth season at this level. The Colts are no strangers to silverware; they’ve won four trophies in the last three years – including the League Cup in January – but 2018 marks the first time they’ve claimed a league title.
Andrews discussed the building process that has been going on at the club since their formation.
He said: “We started with basically nothing.
“We’ve recruited players’ year-on-year, but this season it became apparent three or four weeks into the season that we were in with a real shout of competing, but we never knew we’d have done as well as we did.”
The Colts finished on 49 points, only three ahead of their nearest challenger, Craigpark Colts, but Andrews felt that – once his side reached the top of the table – they would always have too much for the chasing pack.
“I could see from the way we were playing that teams couldn’t get close to us,” he said. “We used the ball so well.
“Craigpark were the team giving us the nearest challenge. But you could tell from the games against them that there was a difference in the quality of both teams.”
The Colts lost 2-0 to Craigpark in a League Cup group at the start of the year, but bounced back to beat them 4-0, 3-1, and 4-0 in their subsequent meetings.
And it was the final game against Craigpark that Andrews felt was a decisive moment in the title race.
“We played Third Lanark a couple of weeks ago and they beat us 3-2, which meant that we had to beat Craigpark to ensure we could win the title on the last day of the season against Lenzie.
“We expected to turn up and get into a real fight [in the 4-0 victory against Craigpark], but after about 15-20 minutes of the game we’d basically put it out of sight. For me, that was the League sown up in that game.”
With title success comes promotion, and the Colts will now make the step-up to the A League.
But it’s not a challenge that Andrews feels daunted by, as he begins looking ahead to what he hopes will be another successful league campaign.
“I don’t see there’s any reason why we can’t go up there and handle ourselves in the A league,” he said. “There’s a lot of good teams up there but I don’t think we’ll be going just to make the numbers up.
“If we can keep the nucleus of players that we’ve got just now then I don’t see why we couldn’t go up and mount a serious challenge for that title as well.”