Musselburgh Windsor Blues finished strongly at the top of the SERYFA League B, ending comfortably on 73 points, followed by runners-up Haddington Athletic on 60 points. We got the chance to catch up with Neil Laidlaw, the coach, to learn about what Musselburgh done right.
Winning the league is a great feeling for any team, and Musselburgh Windsor Blues are no exception. Neil said, "We are all delighted that the league has been won. It makes it easier to keep the boys enthusiastic for next year when we step up a league and expect it to be tough." The boys will be going into League A after being promoted this season, they are expecting a bigger challenge and after winning the league so comfortably they will be taking the challenge head on to prove themselves.
Neil has worked with the same team for a long time and his favourite memory of the season shows that he has been working for this moment. He said, "Our first 11-a-side match back in August 2016, we had been working five years to reach that point." A lot of dedication and hard-work went into building this team and to come out and win the league is a great achievement.
Despite ending the season with an astonishing record of 11 wins, one draw and suffering only one loss. Neil and his team still had challenges throughout the season. Neil said this about his biggest challenge, "Our away fixture against Leith Athletic Colts turned out to be a pivotal game, leading 1-0 at half time we had a player sent off for a harsh last man tackle about eight seconds into the second half. The team stuck in under a lot of pressure, eventually grabbing another goal for an important 2-0 victory." Winning an important game after being a man down shows how well the team worked together. They didn't buckle under the pressure, but they dug deep and earned themselves a victory.
The reasons for their success involved the hard work in training and the chemistry the boys had off the pitch. Neil commented, I think the boys being able to stick to their jobs on the park was a huge factor. Three out of four games we were outplayed but came away with the points due to the lads sticking to their lessons learnt in training over the years. Most of the squad have been together since the team formed in 2011 and the fact that they played together at 4s, 7s and onto 11s is a major factor. Many of the boys have forged strong friendships at the team when otherwise they may not have known each other." Building a strong team chemistry and atmosphere is a crucial factor in the success of any squad.
After a successful run, the boys are looking to continue their success in the A League next season after their promotion. Neil commented, "We are looking to continue our development in the higher league. We would love to get into a cup final next season and that will be one of our targets. Next year we would like to go to a tournament somewhere outside the UK." Neil has high hopes for the boys, and has no doubt that they can reach these goals after a spectacular season.
Neil had some final comments to add, he said, "The organisation that goes into the SERYFA is what makes this really good, without this, the guys would be having a much more inferior experience, so we would just like to thank them. I'd also like to thank my fellow coaches, Grant Hughes & Ronnie McKenzie."
We wish Musselburgh Windsor Blues good luck for their next season and hope they find the success that they are looking for.