Edinburgh South Athletico 2009s had a remarkable year winning the SERYFA – Division 2 and Stuart Brown League Cup double.
After the COVID-19 pandemic brought Scottish youth football to a halt for so long, the Edinburgh South coaches made the decision to make up for lost time and play through the usual summer break.
Coach JP Mason said: “We felt the squad had missed enough football due to the pandemic, so we worked hard during pre-season with training and friendlies most weeks to prepare the players for their first season of 11 a-side football.”
Edinburgh South had a terrific start to the season winning their opening five league games. This perfect start was almost brought to an end through a tough encounter with Gala Fairydean Rovers, but the borders side could not put an end to their winning streak.
“A trip to Gala late September certainly got the heart racing! After the opposition took the lead early doors we fought back to lead 2-1 after a brace from Jack Smith, but with five minutes remaining, Gala, fulled on by a cracking atmosphere at the Netherdale arena, pegged us back to 2-2. In the dying moments, a Sam Birse effort from the edge of the box just had enough power on it to trickle past the keeper into the bottom corner to take the 3 points back to Edinburgh. Probably one of our favourite games in the league campaign.”
Consistency and momentum are key to success over a long season. Edinburgh South’s league campaign was kicked on by a hard-fought win in the league cup.
“The turn of the year did see a hungrier South team who put in a string of quality performances. The 2-1 victory against KSQ Galaxy in the league cup semi-final seemed to act as a catalyst for the final run in of fixtures, winning every game in April and May.”
That incredible winning run included the Edinburgh sides best performance of the season which cemented their place as favourites for the title.
“Our standout performance in the league this season probably goes to the game at the end of April against Leith Athletic. Going into this match, the title race was well and truly heating up, and Leith on paper were arguably the favourites going into it. The boys more than turned up that night, put in a terrific shift defensively, raced to a 3-0 lead after a quarter of an hour and finishing the game 5-0 winners.”
Athletico got their just rewards for what was an outstanding season as they confirmed their place as champions against KSQ Galaxy.
“The league was eventually clinched in another nail-biter with KSQ. A goal apiece as the game drew to a close seemed to be dragging out the league title party for another week, but putting in a captain’s performance, Dec MacDonald’s thunderbolt with 2 minutes to go sealed the 3 points, and ultimately, the league championship.”
This league title completed the double after the team from the capital claimed their first piece of silverware in the Stuart John League Cup, marching to a 4-1 victory over Musselburgh Windsor.
The Edinburgh sides triumph cannot be understated, losing just one game out of 28 in the league, achieving the highest points total of any team across all age groups and divisions in the whole of SERYFA this season.
Any successful team has standout individuals who can make the marginal difference between clinching silverware or just missing out. Edinburgh South recognised the top performers at their end of year awards ceremony.
“The whole team had developed throughout the season, but there were players who were recognised by parents, coaches and their teammates with a number of different awards.”
Dan Barr picked up the players player of the year award whilst the parents’ player went to Dec MacDonald; special achievement (for an astonishing goal scoring record) – Aaron Moncrieff received the special achievement award for an astonishing goal record. The Bond of Unity Award (club award) went to Dean Watters. Nate Smith was presented with most improved and the coaches’ players of the season was jointly awarded to Sol Mitchell and Sam Birse.
Overall, it has been a remarkable season for Edinburgh South Athletico on the pitch, but the coaches are keen to emphasise the off-field experiences and brilliant fundraising efforts of their team.
JP Mason said of his teams outstanding determination to fund a defibrillator for the club and community: “We can talk about the actual football all we want, the wins, the losses, the league tables, the cups, but ultimately, me and Mikey are using football as a vehicle to create opportunities and experiences that don’t just develop these boys as players, but more importantly, as young people. There will undoubtedly have been times this season where I have challenged behaviour or attitudes and the players have perhaps hated me for it, but in the end, teaching the importance of social, emotional and life skills are just as important as the physical, technical and tactical requirements to play football at a decent level. We have led a number of community initiatives this year, our main one being a sponsored walk/run/cycle where the team covered over 700 miles during the Easter holidays and raised over £750 to fundraise for a club defibrillator to be placed outside the main clubhouse for it to be accessible for the local community 24/7. I am very proud of all the boys for what they have achieved this season.”
Mikey Inglis added by telling of the amazing trip away the team had to the North of England: “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching the boys play football this season, getting to see them create fantastic memories whilst developing as individuals and a team. We also ran an unforgettable weekend trip to Manchester at the beginning of March where we had a training session at the Bolton Wanderers Academy, received an amazing tour of Old Trafford and spectated the Manchester derby at the Etihad. Just another fantastic experience that our boys have been fortunate to have had this year.”
Everyone at YFS would like to congratulate the Edinburgh South Athletico players and coaches on their success and we wish them the best of luck next season in their new division.
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