The University of Stirling men’s football team kick-off their 2019/20 league campaign this weekend – and coach Chris Geddes believes his squad can improve on last season’s impressive showing.
The first team hit the headlines last season as a number of impressive performances saw them reach the third round of the Scottish Cup. The student footballers also competed in two semi-finals and finished 10th in the highly competitive, 15-team Lowland League – the fifth tier of Scottish football.
Following a summer break and a successful pre-season, Geddes’ team will return to competitive action on Saturday (July 27) with their opening league match against Edinburgh side Spartans.
Looking ahead to the new season, Geddes believes his side have the ability to build on last year’s performance, which saw them record seven wins, 10 draws and 11 losses in the league.
“Our pre-season work has went well,” explained Geddes, Men’s Football Head Coach at the University. “There have been a few changes over the summer, with a number of players departing and a few coming in too. The new players have all settled in and are adjusting well.
“Over the course of the season, the first team will compete in a total of eight competitions, so we have trained hard to ensure that our fitness is at the best possible level going into the campaign.
“We are really looking forward to the league getting underway this weekend and the season ahead.”
With player development central to the ethos of the University’s football programme, three of last season’s stars have stepped up to senior level – with current student Blair Lyons joining Montrose and former students Lewis Hunter and Rory MacEwan signing for East Fife and Elgin, respectively.
Defender Angus Mailer takes over the captaincy of the University team from Hunter, while Craig Brown – the grandson of the former Scotland manager of the same name – is now vice-captain.
Defenders Ben Quigley and Giannis Kotzageorgis and midfielders James Jarvis, Aaron Chia and James Berry have signed for the club, while six others arrive from the University’s second and 20s teams.
Asked about the current squad, Geddes said: “I am really pleased with the team – and the additions we have made to last season’s side.
“Goalkeeper Kevin Walker brings bags of experience, having been a professional and also a Stirling graduate, and we have appointed Angus as our new captain and I know he will be looking to improve on last season. Craig Brown will also have lots to offer, while Euan Baird and Kieran Hall are both capable of scoring goals for us – so hopefully it’s a good season for them.”
He added: “We can definitely improve on last season – and we are looking at turning last season’s 10 league draws into wins this time around. In terms of the Scottish Cup, it’s is all about the draw – but we will certainly be doing our best to go on another run and, hopefully, move through the early rounds.”
Pre-season cup win
The team have prepared for the new season with friendlies against St Andrews United (4-0 win) and Blackburn United (2-2), before winning a pre-season competition, the Westfield Tournament, with wins over Scone Thistle (3-2) and Camelon (3-2).
Over the course of the season, the first team will play in the Lowland League and the British Universities & College Sport (BUCS) Premier North League. They will also compete in the Scottish Cup, the Lowland League Cup, South Challenge Cup, the Football Nation Qualifying Cup, BUCS British Championships, and the Queen’s Park Shield.
The first Lowland League match of the season versus Spartans takes place on Saturday (July 27) at Forthbank Stadium, Stirling, with a 3pm kick-off. Tickets are £6 for adults and £3 for students.