The 2017/18 season was one to remember for Monifieth Athletic as they completed a league and cup double without losing a game.
In 2016/17 they lost the J Bolton Cup Final to St Murdochs, and manager Dougie MacKinnon admits his side only had one aim for the season.
“Our aim was to win the league and the league cup, which the lads duly delivered.
“The self-belief and confidence has grown with each game.
“Passing, communication, off the ball movement and discipline have all improved and developed and the awareness has also been worked on and improved.
“Team spirit is key and we`ve watched them gel and bond both on and off the pitch.”
The W Mills League title was very much a four-horse race, with Monifieth competing with Riverside, Dryburgh CC and Riverside to try and take the title. In the end, the title was shared with Riverside and MacKinnon believes that they were well worth their share of the title.
“They were very worthy opponents and all our games were hard fought, fair and, overall, good games.
“We edged it over them with two wins and a draw, but they were a very tough side to play against.”
One of Monifieth’s meetings with Riverside was the semi-final of the Chuck McGowan Cup. Oli Carmichael and Ross McDowell were both on target as Monifieth set up a cup final clash with Dryburgh CC.
Captain Cameron Dryden feels that Dryburgh were more than a match for Monifieth.
“Dryburgh CC were our toughest opponents as our three meetings produced 16 goals, nine to us and seven to them.
“We won two and drew the other, but the games were closely fought and could have gone either way.”
MacKinnon echoed his captain’s sentiments, saying, “Our toughest opponents were without a shadow of a doubt Dryburgh CC.
“They’re well drilled, well organised and well capable of beating anyone put in front of them. They, like us, play from the back and can split open any team with fast and accurate passing. They also have pace and good fitness levels.”
The cup final would prove to be a classic with Monifieth running out 4-3 winners thanks to a late goal from Ross McDowell.
Dryden netted from the penalty spot to tie the game at 3-3, and 12 months on after being on the wrong end of the result, he admits it was the perfect way to win the cup.
“My favourite moment of the season was winning the league cup final, as we had suffered defeat the year before and to get back to the final and win was the best feeling.
“It was one of my best moments as being captain, to win the trophy but to also score in the game and experience the exhilaration of Ross McDowell’s injury time winning goal.”
As for the manager, his highlight of the season was Monifieth’s trip to face Dundee Thistle, where they ensured a share of the title.
“My own son Sean MacKinnon scored a goal with each foot and each half to secure us the league title.
“The score line was enhanced by Oliver Carmichael later in the second half, but I was really proud and pleased for Sean as he had a few disappointments this season.”
The Queens’s Jubilee Cup brought Monifieth’s only domestic defeat of the season as they went down 1-0 to Fairmuir. While the result didn’t go their way, MacKinnon took heart from his side’s performance against the top-flight champions.
“It showed us and, indeed, everyone else that we`re more than capable of matching any team put in front of us.
“There was only one goal in the game but if we`d taken our chances we`d have won. Saying that, they beat us fair and square and therefore deserved the victory. We did, however give them a fright I think.”
While strikers McDowell and Carmichael grabbed the headlines with fine showings in front of goal, both MacKinnon and Dryden believe one player has played an important role in Monifieth’s success.
Dryden said, “Bryce Ness often goes under the radar but always has an important contribution in every game.”
MacKinnon added, “Bryce has a massive personality and sets himself very high standards. He’s dependable and fears no one.”
With top flight football secured for next season, Dryden is looking forward to “Being part of a team playing to their full potential to secure our place in the top league.”
After their invincible season, MacKinnon had this message for his players.
“I`m proud of them all. Each and every single one of them. Stay focused, stay committed and never ever give up.
“Most importantly, never try to be the best in the team but always strive to be the best for the team.”
Monifieth Athletic 2002 Double Winning Squad: Dylan Kelly, Jamie Lynch, Phillip Lowe, Lewis Lawson, Ross McDowell, Sean MacKinnon, Lewis Kelly, Josh Wanless, Oliver Carmichael, Adam Gray, Michael Galloway, Cameron Dryden, Liam Annan, Aedan Gillespie, Greg Kemp