Ferry Athletic’s first season at 11-a-side football was one to remember as they completed a league and cup double and reached the quarter finals of the Scottish Cup.
YFS caught up with manager Paul Riley, captain Euan Reekie and Player of the Year Blaike Kyles to find out about their super season.
Ahead of their inaugural season at 11-a-side football, manager Paul Riley admits that his Ferry side had lofty ambitions.
“Our aims at the start of the season were clearly defined in that we wanted to continue our progress from seven-a-side football into competitive football and compete on all fronts. Obviously winning a cup would be amazing but the aim was to win the title and also do well in the Scottish Cup.
“The players have adapted amazingly well with some developing faster than others. Initially, the physical aspect of 11-a-side competitive football was a big challenge but that lads have overcome all the challenges put in their way amazingly well.”
Ferry’s journey started in the group stage of the Diamond Jubilee Cup, a competition that would see them face off against eventual title rivals Fairmuir, Riverside and Pitfour en-route to the final.
In the end, just six points separated the top four in the Café Royale League, with Pitfour and Riverside the only two sides to beat Ferry domestically.
“We only lost two games all season, one against Pitfour away, 2-1, and one against Riverside away, 4-3. Both were the weeks after good Scottish Cup wins and I genuinely believe the lads took the eye off the ball a little in these games, without detracting from our opponent’s performances in any way.
“Games against Fairmuir and Riverside were always tight affairs with the game against Riverside at Dawson just about winning us the league, in an incredible 3-2 win.
“The games against Fairmuir were also good with us edging them and drawing one also, whilst in the reverse fixture against Pitfour we won 7-1.”
As well as establishing themselves as one of the teams to beat in the Café Royale League, Ferry were the last DDYFA side standing in the Scottish Cup, eventually bowing out at the quarter final stage.
While their run didn’t end with the biggest prize, the cup run brought about Captain Euan Reekie’s highlight of the season.
“My favourite moment was winning the Round of 16 in the Scottish Cup away to Deveronvale in Banff. The night before the team had travelled north and it was really good to be together in the hotel.
“We knew it was going to be hard, but we went into it with the right attitude and we won 3-1. It was a brilliant experience and there was a big crowd, the noise when we scored was amazing.”
Ferry needed extra time to advance past Lewis United, and striker Blaike Kyles believes the Aberdeen outfit were the strongest side he and his teammates faced.
“Our toughest opponents in my opinion were Lewis United, who we played in the Scottish Cup. They were a skilful, physical side who liked to play football the correct way. I thought we matched them all over the pitch but was a really tough match which we just edged after extra time.”
Manager Riley believes that Ferry’s Scottish Cup exploits will prove to benefit his players in the coming years.
“The Scottish Cup was a great experience for the group and we did amazingly well beating good sides like Fairmuir and Deveronvale and also overcame an excellent Lewis Utd team from Aberdeen, albeit in my opinion we rode our luck defensively that day.
“We eventually fell at the quarters to the Celtic Boys Club and genuinely think we let ourselves down that day, possibly the occasion got the better of the lads but too many just didn’t turn up.
“I didn’t believe that they were any better than Lewis but the whole experience will make the group stronger.”
With so many Scottish Cup matches under their belt, Ferry had fallen behind in the title race, but had managed to book their place in the final of the Jubilee Cup with a 6-1 win over Pitfour.
Aiden Lockhart was the hero against Carnoustie, as Ferry came from behind to triumph 2-1 in their first ever cup final, and Riley was quick to praise the midfielder.
He said, “I would have to say our three main performers were Aiden Lockhart, Blaike Kyles and McKenzie Martin who showed outstanding levels of consistency and performance throughout the season.
“Aiden’s creativity and goals from set pieces makes him always a threat whilst Blaike’s finishing is as good as anyone you will see in Scotland at that age.
“McKenzie proved what I have always thought, that he is going to be a top-class ball playing centre half that reads the game amazingly well.”
Ferry hosted Riverside in early May in a match that would decide the Café Royale League title. A win for Riverside would see them crowned champions, while only a win would do for Ferry as they worked their way through a backlog of fixtures.
After their two previous encounters, captain Reekie was expecting a difficult tie.
“Our toughest opponents were probably Riverside as every game against them was really tight. The first time they were 3-0 up at half time but we turned it around and won 4-3 with a brilliant second half performance, having been slow to start the match.
“The last time we played them, if we won we would go one point behind them with two games in hand, in the title race.
“Riverside went 1-0 up early on but we scored two quick goals with about five minutes left. As we approached the last couple of minutes they equalised, only for Aiden Lockhart to score an amazing free kick with the last kick of the game! It was absolutely brilliant.”
While their cup success and Scottish Cup run were highlights for the manager, the Riverside match was also his highlight of the season.
“A personal highlight for me, was the home league match versus Riverside. If they won, they won the league. If we won, we had five games left against the bottom five sides, meaning we could catch them and win the league. It was set up for a classic first versus second title decider and didn’t disappoint.
“We were 1-0 at half time in a pretty even game, but really turned it on in the second half, which ultimately paid off when we scored two goals in two mins with five mins to go! In the last-minute Riverside then equalised, only for Aidan Lockhart to curl in a sublime 25-yard free kick into the top corner with the last kick of the game.
“The noise when all the goals went in from Riverside and our fans will live long in the memory and what a game it was!!
“We then went on to score in excess of 30 goals in five games to seal the league title.”
Kyles netted twice in the Riverside match, and unsurprisingly, it was also the high point of his season.
He said, “Beating Riverside in the title decider is definitely my highlight of the season. The way I celebrated my two goals and the full-time whistle felt great.
“I can’t wait for more of the same next season.”
While Kyles and Lockhart grabbed the headlines throughout the campaign, manager Riley felt that one of his Ferry originals was the team’s unsung hero.
“My unsung hero at Ferry Athletic is Cormac McCarthy. Cormac is a lad that has been with us since day one, and now we are at 11-a-side he doesn’t get as much game time as others, but never misses training, works as hard as he possibly can and plays with a massive smile on his face.
“He typifies that football is for everyone, has an amazing attitude and just loves being part of the group. Hats off to you Cormac!!!”
Both Reekie and Kyles had their unsung heroes in the side.
Kyles said, “Cammy Coll, week in week out he battles through games doing the dirty work that most players hate to do and does it really well.”
Reekie added, “Personally, I think our unsung hero is Blair Milne as he is not the player to score all the goals but as a centre midfielder he will sit back and cover the defenders and likes to get stuck in and is always all over the pitch, and a brilliant help to the team.”
After a remarkable first season at 11-a-side football, both Reekie and Kyles have high hopes for the 2018/19 season.
Reekie is hoping to, “win as many trophies as possible and hopefully go further in the Scottish Cup.”
As for Kyles, “I want to stay injury free, keep scoring goals and win as much silverware as possible.”
Riley had this message for his players.
“I would like to thank the lads for their incredible effort and work today which ultimately was suitably rewarded. Please don’t rest on this as this is the beginning, push yourselves to the limit and work hard and practice.
“Enjoy football, enjoy everything about it and realise how fortunate you are to have such good team mates and always remember if you do your best that’s all I, or anyone can ask but just make sure it is your best. Thanks lads.”
While Ferry’s successes domestically and nationally have been very impressive, the style of football they have played is truly a sight to see. For players so young to have the confidence to pass the ball in the manner they do says a lot about them as a team.
Their team spirit was epitomised by their Jubilee Cup run, that saw them come from behind to win their quarter, semi and final matches.
For a team that have a habit of starting matches slowly, they haven’t done too badly and while Pitfour, Fairmuir and Riverside will fancy themselves to lift silverware next season, Ferry’s big game experience and their team mentality make them the team to beat in the 2005 age group.
Ferry Athletic 2005s Double Winning Squad: Finlay Lyttle, Haydn Farmingham, Gene Taylor, Euan Reekie, McKenzie Martin, Blaike Kyles, Stevie Grogan, Will Hanbury, Dylan Gill, Cameron Coll, Cormac McCarthy, Blair Milne, Luke Conway, Jamie Doig, Josh Reekie, Adam Snedden, Aiden Lockheart, Aiden Cobb