Fairmuir 2000s had a dream season, as they completed a domestic treble, at the expense of Ferry Athletic. Fairmuir beat Ferry in both cup finals, and won the league title by three points. We caught up with manager Scott McMurchie to find out about their super season.
After a difficult 2015/16 season, McMurchie explains that at the beginning of the 2016/17 campaign, Fairmuir were just aiming to progress on the previous season’s achievements.
“Our aims this season were to build the squad as we struggled for numbers throughout the 15/16 season and equal or improve on our league finish, which was third in 15/16.
“We brought in five players from Monifieth Athletic and one from Montrose which gave us a strong squad and competition for places all over the park as many of the boys are versatile and are comfortable all over the park.”
Monifieth Athletic had been one of Fairmuir’s main title rivals over the previous seasons, but following their departure from the league, McMurchie moved quickly to snap up some of their top talent.
“We brought in defender Gary Ellis very early in the close season. As the 16/17 season drew closer we brought in Ryan Scobie, Ryan McLaren, Robbie Gallacher and Cavin Tosh all from Monifieth.
“Gary gave us a solid option at right back and this allowed us flexibility in other areas. Ryan Scobie has a wicked left foot and provided some fantastic goals and assists.
“Robbie Gallacher is a warrior and has a fantastic engine in the middle of the park.
“Cavin compliments Ryan McLaren well up top with his physical and direct approach.”
Tosh and McLaren are the classic “big man/little man” strike partnership, with the latter of the two bagging 40 goals over the season.
McLaren believes that his partnership with Tosh is responsible for his goal scoring exploits.
“I've known Cavin for a couple years now and been playing for around three years. It helps to know where he is, what runs he makes and vice versa.”
McMurchie was full of praise for his top goal scorer.
“Ryan links up brilliantly with his strike partners and runners from midfield. He’s had a great year, scoring 40 goals, and is an asset that would significantly change the dynamic of our team if we didn't have him.”
With 40 goals to his name, McLaren had a clear favourite when asked which was his best goal of the season.
“It had to be the overhead kick against Douglas. Even though it was very poor, I still have the rights to say I've scored one, it's surreal.”
Despite 2016/17 being the first season that most of the squad’s first season at Fairmuir, it was one of McMurchie’s “Fairmuir Originals”, Arran McFadyen, that scored the decisive goal against Ferry in the Ellwood Trophy final.
“Arran has been with the club from day one and has been a fantastic ambassador for the younger boys and girls at the club. He works incredibly hard in training and is a pleasure to work with.
“Loyalty is becoming a rare commodity in football and Arran’s loyalty was rewarded with such an important goal.
“It was an important goal for the team on the day and his hard work throughout the years paid off.
“To see Arran’s face and the photos after he scored the goal were the highlight of the season for me as he rarely scores from left back.
“We encourage him to get forward and he took this on board so it was fantastic to see him get the goal.”
The Ellwood Trophy final was the second time in as many weeks that Fairmuir lifted silverware at Ferry’s expense, but McMurchie was full of praise for the side than ran Fairmuir close throughout the campaign.
“Ferry are a strong side and have a couple of systems they can play so coming up against them is always a tough football and tactical test for us.
“Fergie and the two John’s have assembled a good squad and give them the tools to be a competent squad of players.
“They should be proud of their efforts this season and I’m sure they will be strong again next season if they hold on to their players.”
While McLaren was Fairmuir’s most dangerous player offensively, McMurchie believes that their success was also down to the efforts of goalkeeper Rory McInally and defender Cammy Cruickshanks.
“Rory conceded 22 goals in 22 league games and won MOTM in the Steven Ellwood Memorial Trophy final. He has regularly performed well in important games under pressure.
“Cammy moved in to centre half from full back to cover for a suspension and he made the position his own.
“He made the game look simple all season. He has been brilliant and made the transition so easily. Along with that, he is a fine young man.”
McLaren was also full of praise for defender Cruickshanks.
“Cammy’s a very quiet player but he’s an absolutely solid player that’s kept the back four together throughout the season.
It was the first of Fairmuir’s finals against Ferry that McLaren felt was the toughest match of the season.
“It was a very well fought final in which we didn't play to our full potential as a team and to win on penalties from two brilliant saves from Rory was great. It also gave us confidence to win another one only a few weeks later.”
Fairmuir lost just twice in the league, and scored 125 league goals as they wrapped up the title and despite Ferry being their closest challengers this season, McMurchie believes that Fairmuir’s match against Pitfour midway through the season was the biggest test of their character.
“We lost Ryan Scobie to a red card early in the first half and were 3-2 down at the break. We then lost a quick goal after half time and we were in a challenging situation.
“The boys worked incredibly hard to get the game level, especially as Pitfour changed their system to stop us as they knew we were coming at them to get back in the game. Thankfully we got the 5-4 win that day but Garry and Andy of Pitfour gave us a real scare.
“Looking back, that game was a defining moment in our season as we knew we could grind out results when our backs were against the wall.”
Despite their rampant success domestically, Fairmuir were beaten by Ferry in the semi-final of the East Region Cup, a competition that McMurchie hopes to see Fairmuir push on in next season.
“We have good relationships with Glenrothes Strollers and Lochgelly Albert Colts from Fife, who were this seasons winner’s, so we know the level we need to get to, to win that trophy which is tough to do. If we retain the bulk of our squad then we may be able to reach the latter stages.”
Next season, Fairmuir well step up to the U19s, a big step up, but one that McMurchie believes his players can make.
“We are not around to make up the numbers and will be looking to be challenging on all fronts.
“I would expect Ferry to be around again, moving to U19s and playing against older players will be a challenge but I have every faith in the boys to perform well again next season.
“I’ve not seen much of the current U19 league but we will be doing our homework over the summer to make sure our boys have all the tools to maintain the standards we have set this season.”
As for 40-goal McLaren, he knows that he and his teammates will embrace the challenges that U19s football will bring.
“Most of us are staying together which makes it better, but we do understand it's not going to be as easy as last season as it's a massive jump from U17s to U19s, although we will give it our best shot.”
With his first season at Fairmuir being so successful, McLaren had this to say to his teammates and coaches.
“I want to thank and congratulate Little G and Murch on the thrilling and enjoying moments of our season, also for giving up their time out of their day to come coach us, with a very big thanks to Gus for always being there and keeping the team’s mentality strong.
“Thanks to all the boys for all the hard work they have put in to ensure we had the best possible season we could hope for.”
While McMurchie was also full of praise for his treble winners.
“The boys have been incredible this year, if we maintain the standards from this season we can hopefully have another successful year. We have big plans in the pipeline for you and will support each player in any way we can.
“The supporters, parents and families have been wonderful to work with and made our jobs as a coaching team easy.
“We appreciate everything you do, from fundraising to car sharing and being there week in week out for the boys. You have raised fine young men and have every reason to be proud of their achievements. Well done to everyone involved with the team this year!”
Fairmuir’s success has come because of the simplicity of their play. Watching them, it is clear that the players understand their roles in the team, and enjoy playing together.
Next year, winning another treble may be a step to far for them, given that there are already established teams in the U19 league that will be eyeing the titles for themselves. However, this is a hardworking, talented group of players that nobody should be taking lightly.
Fairmuir BC 2000s Treble Winners: Rory McInally, Gary Ellis, Arran McFadyen, Ryan Scobie, Ryan Bannon, Kane Alison (c), Robbie Gallacher, Finlay Scott, Ryan McLaren, Cavin Tosh, Bryce Murray, Ross Bell, Cammy Cruickshanks, Jack Taylor