For a group of players to win four trophies over the course of their footballing careers is an impressive feat. For a group of players to win a trophy in their first season playing 11-a-side football is also a real achievement. But, to win four trophies without losing a game in your first season at 11-a-side, well, that is special.
But that is exactly what Forfar Boys 2004’s did, and YFS caught up with manager Mark Kelly to find about their super season.
“Our expectations last August were to qualify for the top league and finishing anywhere above mid table would be unbelievable!
"Like every other manager, I thought the league would be a two club race, contested between Fairmuir and Celtic Boys. They destroyed every team at seven-a-side.”
In a sense, Kelly was correct, just two points separated Celtic Boys and Fairmuir at the end of the season, however, Forfar were comfortably clear of both at the top of the table.
Two of the players that were instrumental to Forfar’s success were captain Rowan Waddell and striker Dominik Naglik. Both players tower over their teammates and the majority of the other players in the league.
Defensive midfielder Waddell found the net twice as Forfar lifted the Ross Ballantine Cup against St Andrews, while Naglik scored 69 goals in 29 games.
When asked about the secret behind their success, the response from the skipper was clear.
“Teamwork and not giving up when it gets hard. Also, our fitness levels. Training three times a week has kept us going.”
Top scorer Naglik also felt that the sides training regime was key to their success.
“We train three times a week so we’re fitter, so we can keep going in the last 20 minutes of games. Some other teams can’t do that.”
Forfar’s rigorous training sessions are something that Kelly feels were invaluable throughout the campaign.
“I believe strongly in discipline, fitness and preparation. I never leave anything to chance or take risks. The boys train extremely hard, but we also focus on touch, passing and attacking play every session, with lots of crossing and finishing.
"I did my SFA C-Licence last June to help bring new direction and to improve the training sessions which clearly benefited the boys.”
Forfar finished the season with 16 wins and two draws, finishing nine points clear of Celtic Boys in second place, and 11 ahead of third place Fairmuir. And it was the games against the second place side that Waddell felt were the toughest of the season.
“Celtic Boys definitely gave us good games; they have some really good players. They were two really tough games.”
Kelly echoed the comments from his captain when asked about the matches against their nearest rivals.
“Fortunately we beat both of them three times, home and away in the league, plus we were lucky to get home ties in both local cup semi-finals. We scored a total of 23 goals and conceded 10 in those six matches.
"Rest assured both teams will be up there again fighting us for silverware next season.”
Forfar’s appearances in three cup finals meant a backlog of league fixtures in the closing weeks of the season, something that Kelly was pleased to see the team come through unscathed.
“Following our Diamond Jubilee Cup final win, we played another four games over the next seven days including three midweek fixtures versus Kirrie, Celtic and Broughty.
"We had to come from behind in every game, which tells its own story.
"The draw against Kirrie immediately after the final was our poorest performance. Kirrie were by far the better team on the night and should have won easily. But the sign of a good team is not getting beat, even when you are not playing well.”
While Forfar’s achievements were very much a team effort, there were three players that Kelly singled out as the most important to their success.
“Much has been reported about Dominik’s scoring exploits, 69 goals in 29 games is not a bad return and he is now heading off for the next chapter in his career with Dundee United.
"Sean Munro is our smallest player, and is still at primary school. He has the heart (and mane) of a lion, with strength to match. He’s one of the fittest players in our league and is now respected by every striker.
"Our goalkeeper, Kyle Shand, has been simply outstanding.”
While Waddell and Naglik both put in several standout performances throughout the season, the Forfar captain was quick to praise the contribution made by the squad’s defenders and goalkeeper.
"Jake Fletcher and Kyle Shand, definitely kept us going, and Ben Wilson, he’s been solid at the back.”
Goalkeeper Shand conceded just 48 goals in 36 games, keeping 13 clean sheets throughout the campaign.
In a season of seemingly never-ending highpoints, clinching the league title was the standout moment of Kelly’s season.
“The game that will stick in my mind is our win over at St Andrews in the league to clinch our first ever league title.
“The best moment of the season was the following week when we played our very last home game against Ferry.
“Their players and supporters applauded our boys off the park following our league title win. It was tremendous sportsmanship, they are a real credit to themselves, their club and the DDYFA Region.”
Looking ahead to next season, Forfar’s top scorer Naglik will be plying his trade at Dundee United. He contributed over a third of the 188 goals Forfar scored this season, but captain Waddell is confident that his teammates can fill the gap left by the influential forward.
“It’ll be quite hard to replace him, but we’ve got other players that can score goals and do the same as Dominik, but we’ll miss him.”
With Naglik’s departure confirmed, Kelly revealed that a few more of the Forfar boys may follow in his footsteps.
“We have two or three players who have resisted the lure of pro-youth, as they just want to play with their pals and when the time comes and they are ready to move on, then they will go with our blessing.
“We are hoping to bring in two or three stronger players to fine tune our squad, but this means we will need to let a few go.
“It’s a tough lesson in football but sometimes you need to take one step back to move two steps forward. There are clubs very keen to take some of our fringe players and give them proper game time, which is very important for their own future development.”
While Forfar’s domination this season may have surprised more than a few, Kelly knows that next season they will be the scalp that every other club in a highly competitive league looks to claim.
“No-one will disagree, we surpassed every expectation on every level and the reality is, we may never ever repeat our four-trophy success.
“We have re-written the Forfar BC history books on several levels, but we will certainly give it another go and look forward to the challenge by making it very difficult for every opposing team.
“The time will come when we have to take defeats and some bad luck, but our discipline, preparation and work ethic will remain unchanged.
"Forfar has a very small catchment area, and will always find it hard to compete against the bigger Dundee teams like Fairmuir, Celtic Boys and newly promoted Dundee West. Not forgetting Broughty, who pushed all the top teams this season.
“The team I see as a real outside threat are our Angus neighbours, Kirrie Youths.
“They have some excellent players and it’s a real derby occasion when we meet, all the boys know of each other through school etc. Chris and Paul work extremely hard (as do all managers and coaches) but next year they will want their revenge!
“If we don’t retain our titles next season, then I would like to see Kirrie do well. It would be fantastic for the area.
“By winning everything this year, it has given hope to all the other local Angus teams making their transition from seven-a-sides to U13s next season.
“Following our recent cup final win v St Andrews to make it a ‘Quadruple Winning Season’ we held a small celebration back in Forfar. We talked about what we had achieved and what the future could hold for the boys, so they are well aware of our ambitions and expectations next season.
“Our boys must give 100% effort, learn to keep it simple and keep getting used to that winning feeling for as long as possible.”
No matter what the future holds for these Forfar players, they have accomplished something this season that only a few teams in the DDYFA can realistically match in the coming seasons. Whether an U13 team will have this level of success again in their debut season is something else that is unlikely.
Having seen all three of Forfar’s finals, the most remarkable thing about this group of players is that they are a team in every sense of the word. It’s clear that they enjoy playing football with each other, and when things go wrong they have the belief in one and other that they can put it right. I’ll also point out that three of their players are still in primary school, which makes this achievement even more remarkable.
In Dominik Naglik, they are losing a very hardworking and talented player, that has made a telling contribution to their season. Not only is this lad a gifted footballer, he’s an incredibly polite and well-spoken young man, that truly is a credit to his club. He moves on to Dundee United with the talent and attitude to go as far in the game as he wants, and moves with the best wishes of everyone at Forfar Boys, the DDYFA and YFS.
As for the rest of the Forfar Boys squad, the loss of their top scorer might not be as catastrophic as it sounds. Without Naglik, they still scored over 120 goals and averaged one goal a game against. If they can put up similar numbers to those next season, the double quadruple might just be possible.
So, while this squad will change over the coming seasons, more of these players will move into pro-youth setups and some will leave to start new journeys at new clubs, wherever they go, whatever they achieve, they will always be, Forfar boys.
Forfar Boys 2004s Quadruple winning squad: Kyle Shand, Blair Quinn, Jake Fletcher, Jackson Ross, Rowan Waddell (c), Dagan Bell, Jack Muir, Liam Baillie, Jack Soutar, Kieran Kelly, Ethan Murray, Jay Harkin, Sean Munro, Dominik Naglik, Sam Murray, Owen Edward, Ben Wilson