Maryfield United’s Watson McInally League victory is testament to the hard work the players have put in, believes co-manager Jordan Davidson.
The ’05 squad didn’t have the numbers to field a starting eleven last summer, but thanks to some shrewd recruitment and a highly motivated team, Maryfield took the division by storm, winning 23 of their 24 league games and going undefeated all season.
They also won the Mac Brown Cup for the first time in ten years, marking a return to form for a club that has historically been successful but had been toiling in recent years.
And their double success is all down to the player’s efforts, says Davidson: “Last pre-season we had only eight or nine boys for our first training session, but nobody complained once.
“We’ve worked and we’ve worked; each session has been to a great standard and we’re seeing the benefits.
“We’ve got a good team spirit; a good core to the team; and they all work together, we don’t have any superstars – although we do have some really, really talented players.”
After initially looking like they might struggle to field a team, Maryfield ran away with the League, picking up 70 points and averaging over four goals a game – including dominant victories over the likes of Kirrie Thistle, Dundee Sporting Club and Newtyle United.
At the other end of the pitch, a rock-solid defence that conceded less than a goal a game helped grind out results on the rare occasions that the forwards weren’t firing:
“All areas of our team are really strong,” said Davidson. “We’ve got defenders who go and win headers and tackles; we’ve got midfielders who like to get on the ball and play, and who aren’t afraid of mixing it up a bit; and in the wide areas we’re devastating with Dilon [Gurung] and Arran [Duncan] who on their day are up there with the best players in the region.
“As a team, we like to play football in the final third. We like to knock the ball about and express ourselves, and get the ball wide and create lots of chances.”
After winning every game to the turn of the year, Davidson described the moment he realised that the title was in sight, and recalls his personal highlights from the season.
He said: “When it came to about Christmas time and we’d won every game I thought ‘we’ve got a really good chance of winning this league’, and from there we only went from strength to strength.
“Obviously, [a season highlight] would be winning the Cup for the first time in a decade – it was fantastic defeating Mearns.
“Also, we played last years champions and Scottish Cup quarter-finalists, Ferry Athletic, in the first round of the Scottish Cup. Nobody gave us a chance but we went and beat them 3-1 in one of our best performances of the season.”
With title success comes promotion and a host of new challenges for next season. For Davidson himself, he is making the step-up to senior football as assistant manager to new East of Scotland side Kinnoull FC.
He won’t be leaving Maryfield behind though, and there will even be the opportunity for members of the squad to gain experience training with Kinnoull, so Davidson is optimistic they’ll have another successful season:
“Our aim for the upcoming season is to see the boys improve and hopefully finish top half of the top league,” he said. “We’re under no illusions; we know going up a division will be tough, but as long as we keep progressing, we’ll be happy.”
It won't be easy, but if the last year is anything to go by then nobody will bet against Maryfield making their mark this season.