With phase three of lockdown restrictions well underway, grassroots football teams have been given the greenlight to get back into training in slightly larger groups.
Westerton United are one of many teams who did not hesitate in getting their players back out on the pitch to get the feel of a ball again.
WUFC is a grass roots football club, based in east Dunbartonshire. The 2003 squad - coached by Kenny McMahon, Paul Sweeney and Eddie McArthur – finished in the bottom half of the table in their first Division One campaign in the Paisley Johnstone District Youth Football League (PJDYFL) after gaining promotion alongside Port Glasgow the season before.
Despite not having many titles to their name, the side has significant history.
They got to the quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup in 2016 and, in the same year, made the West Region Cup final - where they were defeated by a strong Drumsagard side.
Last season also gave them a good cup run in the Scottish Cup, reaching the round of 16 before losing out to Kilmarnock-based side Bellfield.
Throughout last season United had a consistent line up, as head coach Kenny McMahon was satisfied with the squad he had, though early in the season, the team unfortunately suffered some serious player injuries.
However, with fourteen players consistently match fit, the squad battled hard throughout the season. Looking back at last season, Kenny told YFS: “I believe in the team I have, in my eyes we have a good quality side that can compete for titles no matter the numbers”.
For Kenny, his team is very important and always comes first. You can tell he has the backing of his side, which is all you can ask for from a coach.
Division One of the PJDYFL was voted the toughest league in Scotland, as every team was at a high standard.
Westerton United went in with a winning mentality and a positive attitude to give every opponent a tough challenge. However, they suffered from a common football disease called ‘inconsistency’ throughout the previous season, mainly as a result of cancelled games.
This disrupted their rhythm as they played only 12 games - winning four, losing six and drawing four. However, their form near the end of the season was starting to pick up as they went four games unbeaten.
Unfortunately as the season was made void there was no winner in the country’s toughest league and Westerton’s strong form didn’t get the chance to flourish as it they had wished.
Craig Sweeney, a key player in the side, told YFS how he felt about the previous season from a player’s perspective.
“We were unlucky at times last season, losing games we shouldn’t have, but that’s behind us now and I’m sure we can learn from our mistakes.”
He was frustrated with how events unfolded last season but is optimistic for the next campaign as he feels the squad can improve from their experiences.
Pre-season began positively in early July, with the majority of the squad returning to training at the public pitches of Colqoun Park in Bearsden where they also play their home games.
The team began their first session back with ten minutes of consistent running specifically to build up stamina, followed afterwards by a light possession game, for players to get a feel for the ball again, and eventually rounding things off with a small-sided game to introduce the competitive side of the game back into the game.
This regime will be ongoing until Westerton United and grassroots football teams are notified when they can return fully to competitive play with other teams.
United have proved to be a side that is hungry to bounce back as soon as possible and start competing for titles. It’s fantastic to see how teams at boys club level are coping considering the circumstances of the last few months, by responding positively, eager to get back into the swing of things.