Author: Graham Swann
For players, coaches and supporters alike the wait is almost over until Dundee Utd U14s will step out at the Excelsior Stadium in Airdrie to face Hutchison Vale in the Scottish Youth Football Association Challenge Cup Final.
This season has been a very successful one and everyone concerned with the club will be sure to give it their all in order to become Scottish Cup winners.
Ahead of the final coach George Fyfe admits that it has been a waiting game for his team but can’t wait for the big day in Airdrie. He said, “It has been a long time coming what with there being two months between the semi-final and final. We had our third annual spring training camp to Portugal along with a few difficult friendly matches and the lads have put in a lot of hard work on quality surfaces.”
“I have always known how good the boys are and I knew that as long as we worked hard, did the right things during games, and also carried our bit of luck we were capable of reaching the Final.”
Dundee Utd booked their place at the Airdrie showpiece after overcoming Cardonald Thistle 1-0 in a tight semi-final. Fyfe believes that his side however were worthy finalists. “It was a really good game. Cardonald are a decent side and from the start we were up for it but our lads remained calm and worked hard to get on top in the game and in the end I thought we did enough to deserve our place in the final.”
One aspect key to the side’s cup run has been their ability to score goals – and there have been lots. In the league alone so far this season they have a goal difference of 101 having scored a startling 111 goals and conceded only 10. Fyfe explains that this is down to the depth of the squad. “We have a lot of attack minded players with great technique who all have an eye for goal. Last season every single player in our 22 man squad scored and that included our 2 standby goalkeepers, something I am really proud of.”
He knows that Hutchison Vale will prove stiff opposition but hopes that his team will have the edge on the day. “They are a top side and we will give them our full respect. I expect a game where the ball is moved well and like us they are an attacking side who like to go forward at pace. I am very proud of my players and I know that as long as they work hard, try their best and carry our wee bit of luck on the day they are in with a very decent shout. In cup finals anything can happen, but we must be at our best.”
For the players this is an exciting time as well. Captain Callum Walls explained his thoughts ahead of the final and said, “I am very proud to be in the final. I was disappointed on our overall performance in the semi-final but credit to Cardonald for having a go at us early on. Personally I think I’ll be a bit excited but not too nervous for the final. I know some of the lads will be though. We have good players and we try to play football on the ground. It was good to play better teams in the Scottish Cup and to be tested more.”
Vice captain Lewis Fyfe added, “I am very excited and proud because it’s a massive achievement for the club in reaching the national final. This is the biggest game of our lives but we have to be up for it and give 100% on the day. We have a great team spirit and in big games it’s that same team spirit that pulls us through. We all work hard for each other.”
Calum King, who scored the goal that sent his side to Airdrie (pictured, above right), explained his joy. “It was a very tense and nerve racking semi-final against a good Cardonald Thistle side. I was delighted at scoring the goal which took my team to the Scottish Cup Final. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when the whistle went for full time and we then realised what we had accomplished. Of course we will be nervous as we have not been in this position before. We have played in and won other cup finals and will prepare ourselves for this game as we have for all the others.”