It takes a lot of qualities and characteristics to get through the entire league season without losing a single match; determination, consistency, team spirit and a never-say-die attitude, and those traits are something AC Irvine Under 14s have displayed in abundance throughout the 2015/16 season.
Seeing off their nearest challengers Vaspar FC by 11 points and Larg Colts by 14 points, Irvine stormed their way to the Central Ayrshire League title, scoring 161 goals along the way, with 25 of those strikes coming from main man Blair Craig.
However, halfway through the season and cruising, Irvine faced a huge dilemma. When Kilmarnock FC offered Craig the chance to go pro youth it was an opportunity he was never going to turn down. Losing their top scorer could have proved to be such a large bow in their title hopes. However, they had Jonny Irvine to step in and fill his boots.
Half a season and 30 goals later, Irvine finished as the team’s top scorer after missing the opening few matches of the season.
One characteristic which defines an unbeaten team is the willingness to fight to the end and refusal to accept defeat. This is perhaps the reason behind Irvine’s successes, with late goals coming against both Largs and Rosebank to keep the run going being particular highlights.
One moment in the season which defined this team of warriors was in late February, 2-0 down against Galston YFC, many teams would have given up and accepted that it wasn’t to be their day. Irvine are not one of those teams. They fought back, and hit Galston with four goals to run out 4-2 winners, preserving their unbeaten record from an unlikely position. This result highlighted the ability that Irvine possess, with other high points such as their convincing wins against Galston and Glenburn, displaying the ruthlessness and goals within the side. Ultimately, their tendency to find the back of the net with almost ease was the key component in their fantastic invincible season.
One of the main reasons that Irvine have been so successful is their results against fellow title challengers, picking up all 12 points available against Vaspar and Larg Colts, who finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Despite the points gap, manager Chris Carruthers told Youth Football Scotland that the title race was a lot tougher than people may have thought. He said: “The league was a lot closer than it looked in my opinion as our boys were starting to feel the pressure of clinging on to our unbeaten record. With that in mind, we knew our last two games were against Valspar, who finished 2nd and Largs Colts, who finished 3rd.”
He added: “I said earlier in the season that it looked like everyone in CAYFA league could take points off one another and it certainly proved to be the case.”
Congratulations to AC Irvine Under 14s, unbeaten Central Ayrshire league champions for 2015/16!