University of Stirling student footballers will have the backing of an enormous away support when they take on Dundee United in their historic Scottish Cup encounter this weekend.
More than 1,000 supporters – comprising students, staff, alumni, and members of the local community – are expected to travel north for the highly-anticipated Fourth Round match on Saturday.
Due to the huge demand for tickets, supporter Professor Gordon Mackay – a world-renowned sports surgeon whose practice, The Mackay Clinic, sponsors the University strips – has hired a fleet of buses to ferry the mammoth support to and from Tannadice.
It comes as former Scotland boss Craig Brown – whose grandson and namesake played for the University for four years, captaining the side in the 2020/21 season – was among those to wish the players well ahead of the match.
In a short film sent to players and coaching staff, Brown – who managed the Scottish national team between 1993 and 2001 – said: “I wish you all the very best ahead of your cup tie at Tannadice on Saturday. I saw your team quite often in the last few years and I thought they were excellent.”
Acknowledging the team’s Scottish Cup run and impressive campaign in the Lowland League, he continued: “It’s a terrific achievement. I haven’t seen you play this season, but I look at your results regularly and I’m delighted to see you doing so well.”
He added: “You guys can create history, I’m certain, and everyone outwith the Dundee United fans will be hoping for a cup upset. They need look no further, I hope, than Tannadice on Saturday because, if you’re on form, and you get them on a dodgy day, there’s an opportunity for a shock result.
“Everyone loves a shock, and everyone loves the underdog – so, as the underdog, University of Stirling hope to win this match, and I dearly hope they do; it would be a terrific achievement. All the very best lads – and good luck on Saturday.”
The team – managed by head coach Chris Geddes – is the first university side to reach the last 32 of the Scottish Cup in more than 50 years. Made up of students on football scholarships, Geddes’ side beat Albion Rovers in the last round, with midfielder Euan McGill scoring the only goal of the game in extra time.
Progress in the national cup competition is just the latest success for the University – as they continue their charge in the Lowland League, in which they are currently just three points off top. They also travel to Durham University tomorrow [Wednesday 18 January] needing just one point to win the British Universities and Colleges (BUCS) Premier North Division for the third consecutive year.
Speaking today, Geddes – the Scottish Student Sport Coach of the Year – said: “This is a very exciting week for our players and coaching staff, with two huge games coming up.
“The players have put in exceptional performances all season and they are rightly being rewarded with two huge ties, including the trip to Tannadice on Saturday. We know that it’s going to be a really tough match, but we are relishing the opportunity to test ourselves against a Premiership side and will enjoy the occasion regardless whether we win, lose or draw.
“We have received so many messages of support over the last few weeks and the ticket sales have been phenomenal. To have the backing of so many supporters on the day will be a special moment for the players and staff.”
A day to remember
David Bond, Head of Performance Sport at the University of Stirling, said: “We are incredibly proud of everything that the players, Chris, and his coaching staff, have achieved this season and are looking forward to our trip to Dundee on Saturday afternoon.
“We are delighted that our students, staff, alumni and members of the local community are planning on turning out in huge numbers to show their support – and we’re hoping to give them a day to remember.”
Tickets are still available for the match and can be purchased up until kick-off, as they are issued electronically. Visit the Dundee United away tickets webpage for more information and to purchase.