East Region (302)
The 2016/17 Maryfield League was all about one team this season, East Craigie Swifts. The Scottish Cup quarter finalists went through the entire domestic season unbeaten, as they added three trophies to the Craigie Park trophy cabinet. YFS caught up with manager Steven Fallon to find out about their super season.
In previous seasons, Broughty United had dominated the 2001 age group, but over the course of the summer, Broughty United became East Craigie Swifts. As Alan Partridge once said, “They’ve rebadged it you fool!”. Fallon explains the move.
“I just wanted to give the boys a pathway into the junior game.
“I know Craig and Sean well (East Craigie managers) and trust them that if my boys are playing well then, they will get a chance with the junior team.
“We work close together, train on same nights and on occasion together, so my boys get exposure to a better standard of player.
“We also have better facilities to train on and a home ground.
“Hopefully it will benefit the whole club in the future.”
Despite their success in previous seasons, Fallon’s aims for his squad were simple.
“We aim to play attacking football on the ground and improve all the boys that play for us.
“Also, to enjoy it. If boys at our age don’t enjoy it they will stop playing.”
Clearly the manager’s message was well received by the players, as they won all 16 of their league games and picked up both local cups.
No Dundee club at any age group went further in the Scottish Cup than East Craigie Swifts, and it was one of their Scottish Cup ties that was Fallon’s highlight of the season.
“The best moment was without a doubt beating East Kilbride away from home in the Scottish Cup in extra time.
“They have just won a tough league in Glasgow, have amazing facilities and we managed to beat them 2-1 in with Reece Lornie scoring with the last kick of the ball to clinch victory.
“I have never seen us battle and work so hard to get a victory.”
East Craigie finished 19 points clear of joint second Ferry Athletic and Fairmuir, but it was their cup final against Fairmuir, or lack of due to Fairmuir having insufficient players, that was Fallon’s most disappointing moment of the campaign.
"We had done well to reach the final and were looking forward to playing against our closest rivals so to get that taken away from us was hard to take.
“It was very disappointing as we had reached two finals so my intention was to start every player in at least one final.
“Obviously, it was the same for both teams but it was not our decision to not play or reschedule the game so for that I really feel for our players.”
East Craigie eventually got their cup final in what was the final game of the DDYFA season. They fired eight goals past Forfar Boys, with striker Keir Gardiner finding the net five times.
Gardiner is the solo striker in East Craigie’s set up, and while many teams would look for a target man in that position, Gardiner’s pace and work rate cause defenders more problems than a target man ever could. Fallon was full of praise for the striker, who has 35 goals to his name this season.
“He’s had a really good season.
“If you added all his goals up they’d probably be about 20 yards out.
“The amount of goals he scores in and about the box is quite incredible.
“He’s always in and around there looking to finish things off.”
Despite finding the net 35 times in 27 games, Gardiner couldn’t think of a favourite goal.
“Probably the couple against Fairmuir. It was a big game, so probably them because they were important.
“Or the one’s against Ferry, I’ve not really got a standout one.”
Despite Gardiner’s goal scoring exploits, Fallon insists that East Craigie’s success is very much a team effort.
“We have a good balance about the squad with a lot of boys who can play various positions.
“They are all important and have all contributed so much at different times this season.
“We have good defenders, good passers, hard workers, players who create chances and players who finish them.”
One player that received praise from both his manager and his teammates was goalkeeper Charlie Kennedy.
Captain Aidan Mcirvine had this to say about East Craigie’s number one.
“He’s played every game, stopped a lot of goals and made a lot of good saves.”
Fallon was also full of praise for the keeper who conceded just 13 goals in the league this season.
“He had a difficult season last season Charlie and he’s come back this season, made himself number one and secured his spot.
“He’s done really well, he’s been really consistent and had a good season.
“He doesn’t get a lot of praise because we attack a lot, but everything we ask him to do he does well.”
While Fallon was full of praise for his players, captain Mcirvine was full of praise for his manager, citing him as one of the key reasons for East Craigie’s success.
“When I came here I wasn’t that good at football, but coming here every Sunday and winning 5-0, 7-0, it’s down to the manager really.
As for Gardiner, he put the team’s success down to their belief in one and other.
“Everyone’s full of confidence and we’re all behind each other. We’ve got good chemistry and I think that’s contributed to it.”
East Craigie were beaten just twice this season, by Blue Brazil in the East Region Cup, and on penalties in a Scottish Cup classic by eventual winners Tynecastle. And these were two matches that Fallon felt he and the squad learned from.
“I don’t class the Tynecastle game as a defeat as it was on penalties!
“We learned that two things really, that we can compete with the best teams in Scotland on our day and that we can bounce back from it and not let it affect us.”
Looking ahead to next season, Gardiner knows that maintaining this season’s high standards will be crucial if East Craigie are to keep lifting silverware.
“We’ve just got to go out next season and do the same as we’ve done next season and keep working hard.”
And Fallon believes that this group of players is well equipped to go and challenge at the highest level in the coming years.
“The boys have been absolutely tremendous every time we train, they are always available on a Sunday, they’re always up for it.
“If we keep going, keep together and keep improving, I think we’ve shown we can mix with the best boys clubs in Scotland.
“It’s just whether we can take it to that next level and be a wee bit better than them, that’s what we’re aiming to be.
“I think the boys are the same as me, they’re always looking to be better, always looking to achieve more.
“We will just keep trying to get better as a team and individually and keep taking friendlies against the likes of Blue Brazil.”
Fallon had one final message for the East Craigie players and parents.
“I hope you remember going a whole domestic season with a 100% record for a long time to come and you all enjoyed it, as a treble at any level is brilliant.
“You deserve everything for all your hard work and consistency throughout the season.
“The boys are fantastically supported and I would like to thank the parents, grandparents, family and friends for all the transporting, cleaning of kits, fundraising and backing me as a coach in my decisions throughout the season.”
Having seen East Craigie Swifts on several occasions this season, against teams from Dundee and sides from further afield, I can say that they are the best team in Dundee at any age group. Some of the football they have played this season has been magnificent and against Tynecastle, they showed that they can cut it with the very best Scotland has to offer.
East Craigie’s success comes from the simplicity of their play. The defenders defend, the midfielders are excellent with the ball, the wingers are direct and the strikers are clinical.
Next season, it will take a monumental effort from the other sides to dethrone East Craigie domestically, while the current champions will be setting their sights on the East Region and Scottish Cups. If they can get a bit of luck with the cup draws, then there’s no reason they can’t reach the latter rounds of these competitions, and potentially add even more trophies to the Craigie Park trophy cabinet.
East Craigie Swifts 2001s Invincible Squad: Charlie Kennedy, Aidan Mcirvine (c), Reece Lornie, Rhys Beattie, Leon Gibson, Finlay Baird, Ethan Bannon, Max Flucker, Jordan Conway, Euan Fallon, Ewan Faulkner, Josh McLaughlin, Callum McCleary, Cameron Christie, Keir Gardiner, Hayden Burr, Brandon Donnelly
Following a season of ups and downs, Dundee West 2003s picked up three trophies and secured their place in next season’s top flight. YFS spoke with manager Eoin Boylan to find out about their super season.
Despite a seventh-place finish in the 2015/16 season, Dundee West saw themselves relegated, but Boylan explains how he and his coaches used this disappointment to create a siege mentality within the squad.
“The boys were disappointed to be relegated and we challenged them to prove to everyone that we should be in the top league.
“We went on a good run near the end of the season to take us away from ninth and tenth. If we won two points more we would have stayed in top league as we would have finished sixth.
“Our main aim was to gain promotion and we would have been delighted to reach a cup final.”
After a strong start to the season, Dundee West suffered a major blow midway through the campaign.
“We made several forced changes to the squad as we lost five players around November time.
“We were delighted to see captain Kyle Geekie sign for Dundee and then four other players decided to leave the club around the same time.
“We brought in forward Luke Miller and defenders Ritchie Grubb and Morgan Harrow.”
It was this period that Boylan felt tested his players the most.
“We faced league leaders Monifieth in early December with only 11 players and lost 4-3.
“A win would have put us a point ahead at the top of the league. The boys gave everything in that game and we were very unfortunate not to take anything out of it.
“The result saw us drop four points behind Monifieth with the same amount of games played. The league was then out of our hands.”
While many players may have buckled under the pressure, the Dundee West boys bounced back in spectacular fashion.
“The following week we faced Riverside with only 10 players, the boys could again could easily have given up but they played the game like we had 12 men winning 5-1 against a tricky side.
“It was probably one of the best performances of the season. They fought for every ball and played some great football.
“We felt this was a huge turning point in the season.
“The new players slowly arrived shortly after that game and the boys went on a fantastic run losing only once in the remaining 18 games of the season.”
Dundee West’s cup runs saw them face fellow treble winners Pitfour, and title contenders Fairmuir, and it was the games against these sides that many of the players found most challenging this season.
Striker Cammy Wilson said: “Fairmuir have been the best team we have faced, they are strong and determined.”
While 40 goal forward Cavan McLaren believed that Pitfour were West’s biggest test.
“Pitfour have good players and they gave us a good fight.”
Pitfour lost just one game in the DS Rennie league this season, but the Wellgate Cup saw Dundee West pick up two victories against them. However, Pitfour were victorious when the sides first clashed early in the season, as Boylan explains.
“We faced Pitfour in the J Duffy Cup quarter finals losing 3-1.
“We had two key players suspended for the game and played one or two boys out of position. We lost the game 3-1 but there was not much between the teams and on the day and Pitfour slightly edged the game by taking their chances.
“When we saw the draw for the Wellgate Cup, the boys were confident they could get a result against Pitfour.
“Both games were great to watch and from a Dundee West perspective the boys again showed how well they can play against the better sides in the league.
“The first game was two weeks prior to the Mac Brown Cup final and the result gave the boys a huge lift going into their first ever final.
“Again, in the second game the boys knew they could win the tie and progress to the final, again they played some great stuff and again deserved the win.”
Against Fairmuir, the matches were even tighter, with both ties going to penalties. The first saw Dundee West edge the shootout 3-2, and the second tie was won 5-3.
“Both games against Fairmuir were fairly even with us just shading the first game in the J Duffy Cup. We felt we should have won the first game in 70 minutes but Fairmuir are a tough side to beat.
“In the first penalty shootout, the boys showed great confidence missing only one penalty from five.
“Our keeper David Boylan was the hero, saving three from five faced.
“In the second game, there was nothing between the two teams on the day as it was a pretty nervous game from both teams.
“Again, in the second shootout the penalty takers were excellent again scoring all five pens. Once again David saved one penalty and was unlucky not to save a second.
“The boys know that there is a good chance that David will save at least one pen in a shootout and as long as they score their pens we have a great chance of winning.”
While much has been made of Dundee West's attacking prowess this season, the players agree that David Boylan was very much the unsung hero of the season.
Forward McLaren said: “David Boylan our keeper has really helped us this season and been one of our best players.”
While one of the squad’s midseason signings Morgan Harrow was especially pleased to have such a reliable keeper behind him.
“If I made any defensive mistakes David was always there to help and stop the goals going in, not just for me but the whole team.”
As well as performing his penalty heroics, Boylan kept 12 clean sheets throughout the season and even played a hand in six goals, assisting five and scoring once. And who said that goalkeepers can’t play football?
As for Eoin Boylan, he emphasised that all of Dundee West’s players have played their part in such a successful season.
“We always say to the boys that we win and lose as a team and there have been a high number of strong individual performances all season.
“Every player in the squad has played a huge part in our success this season.”
Following such a trophy filled campaign, some of the players told us their favourite moments of the season.
For David Boylan, the best moment was: “When we beat Ferry Athletic because we won the treble.”
Morgan Harrow also pinpointed the Wellgate Cup triumph as his moment of the season.
“When we beat Ferry 7-1 and won the Wellgate Cup because it was the first cup final I had played in and we won.”
Midfielder Ryley Duncan bagged a brace that day, and unsurprisingly, it was also his moment of the season.
“My favourite moment was winning the treble and scoring two goals in the final against Ferry.”
Next season, Dundee West will be plying their trade in the top flight. Whether that is an eight-team league or a 15-team league is currently unknown. But whatever the setup is, these players certainly won’t be content with a mid-table finish.
As David Boylan makes clear: “Our aims for next season are to try our best and to win as many matches as we can.”
While for cup final hero Duncan, his sights are set on one of the biggest prizes.
“My aim is to win the regional cup next season and to continue playing together well and enjoy our football.”
Midfielder Keir Skinner clearly doesn’t lack confidence in his teammates.
“We’re aiming to go undefeated and win another treble.”
And as for captain Callum Rae, his message to his teammates was clear.
“Win more trophies.”
With the season finally finished, manager Boylan had a final message for his players and their parents.
“The players have really matured and worked hard this year and fully deserve the success they have had. It has been a magnificent effort from them and we are really proud of them.
“We would like to thank all players, family and supporters for their continued support this year.
“The parents have been a huge help giving the boys their backing and support when it’s needed, turning up week in week out and helping out the team behind the scenes.
“We could not manage without them.”
This Dundee West team will certainly not be taken lightly by any of the top clubs next season. The speed at which they counterattack teams is frightening and their forwards are some of the most clinical at this age group. Add into that a strong defensive unit and a hard-working midfield, it’s clear that all the tools are there for them to continue being successful in the coming years.
Next season, they will be without one of their key players Jamie McCann, who is moving into pro-youth. Numerous managers have described him as the best player in either of the U14 leagues, and having seen him play, it’s easy to understand why. His goals and assists have been crucial to Dundee West’s success this season, and will be difficult to replace in the future, but players moving to pro-youth is the sign of good setup, something that Dundee West clearly have.
As for the rest of this Dundee West squad, many of them have spent all their careers at the club, and have progressed from seven-a-side, into treble winners. There is something nice about seeing their loyalty rewarded and their hard work pay off in such a spectacular fashion. Considering that before this season, they hadn’t played in a cup final, they looked comfortable in a setting where many players freeze and struggle to perform.
Whether or not they will ever repeat this feat is hard to say. They will likely be involved in a four-club race with Pitfour, Arbroath and Fairmuir for the league title, while all the clubs at the 2003 age group are capable of being successful in the cup competitions. But, whatever the coming seasons hold, they have achieved something special this year, and have done it playing the Dundee West way.
Dundee West 2003 treble winning squad: David Boylan, Callum Rae (c), Lee Clark, Jude McIntosh, Cavan McLaren, Ryley Duncan, Logan Smith, Luke Miller, Logan Piggott, Cameron Wilson, Jamie McCann, Joel Grant, Morgan Harrow, Glenn Scott, Keir Skinner, Godswill Oke, Ritchie Grubb
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
The SPFL Trusts “Trusted Trophy Tour” stopped off at Dens Park to showcase some of the work that Dundee FC do in the local community.
This comes as the SPFL Trust (Scottish Professional Football League Trust) sets an ambitious target for clubs to engage one million people through community engagement every year, to be achieved over the next five years.
Currently, the SPFL Trust and all 42 member clubs engage with an estimated 710,000 individuals every year. This reflects around 13% of Scotland’s population, according to research conducted by the SPFL (Scottish Professional Football League) in 2016.
Director Steve Martin explained just how the club has gone about improving its programmes in the community: “We totally refurbished DFC in the Community, which is our slogan, in the summer.
“The first thing we did was with Active Schools cause we wanted to get in with the school kids again, that was very, very important.
“We’re doing 12 sessions in nine different schools during the week, with roughly 160 to 180 kids a week, which is fantastic.
“They all have Dundee kits on which is fantastic.”
Some of the children involved in Dundee’s after school programmes were invited to Dens to take part in a training session on the pitch, and get a chance to have their photos taken with the SPFL Premiership Trophy, and the League Cup.
Lewis Melee is the community manager at Dundee FC, and he spoke about the clubs after school programmes: “We have classes on every day of the week, up to three a day some days. Our coaches work very closely with the club to create a package of class sessions.
“Ultimately the fun element shines through in terms of the games.
“It’s a brilliant opportunity to have the kids down here today, and get them on the pitch. Their heroes play on it on a Saturday and they get to see it and be part of it today.
“They’re part of our projects and we look forward to having them as part of that for a long time to come.
While the club currently works with nine primary schools in Dundee, Lewis added that plans are in place to expand the programme in the coming months.
“We’re looking to expand the programme in the next academic year and add variety to what we do in the classes.
“At the moment it’s only football, but we’d like to expand to Futsal and girls only football.
“An uptake in girls and woman’s football is the long-term ambition for our classes.”
The list of schools currently working with DFC in the community can be found at http://dundeefc.co.uk/club/dfc-in-the-community/ and Lewis spoke about how parents with children at these schools can get their kids involved.
“The schools will send out letters and leaflets, a block is £25 and at the end of the block the kids get a free match ticket and a DFC in the community tee-shirt.
“We have a constant link with the schools to allow parents the easiest way possible to get in touch, because we want to have as many kids as possible playing football.”
It is not just children that DFC in the community has programmes for, as Steve explained that the club is looking to take a universal approach.
“One of the things we wanted to do was connected with Alzheimer’s Scotland.
“I was invited down to Tannadice to see what Alzheimer’s Scotland have done with Football Memories, which is a programme sponsored by the SFA.
“The work they do is fantastic and rather than us competing with them, they invited us to join them and hold the sessions once a month here at Dundee. So, May 3rd we are kicking off our sessions at Dundee.
“As well as this, we’ve been approved to do walking football which will kick off at the end of the football season.”
Another programme being run at Dens Park is Football Fans in Training. Dundee Football Club and DFC in the Community partnered up with the SPFL Trust’s Football Fans in Training – which allows fans to get involved with the club and lose weight along the way.
Scott Anderson is a member of Football Fans in Training, and he believe that the environment of the classes is key to their success.
“You can come here and it is people like yourself. If you go to a gym it’s full of people posing, so it’s a comfortable environment.
“I’ve been a Dundee supporter for 40 years so to be where the players are it’s a bonus.
“When I started, I was 91 kilos and I’m now down to 89 kilos which I’m happy with, my main aim is to get down to 85 so if I achieve that I know I’ll have achieved something.”
John Coleman is one of the coaches that runs the Football Fans in Training sessions, and he believes that using Dens Park as the base for the programme is one of the reasons for its success.
“The classes take place here in the gym, we do stuff in the lounges at Dens, we get on and around the pitch and do work in the stands as well.
“We help the fans be a bit more active, make sure that they’ve got a better life style and then losing weight is the long-term goal.”
The Fans in Training programme is one used by numerous clubs throughout Scotland, and borrowing ideas from other clubs is something that Steve and his team are trying to do more of, in order to reach all corners of the community.
“Myself and Lewis are speaking to other clubs and getting their ideas on what they do.
“In the next 12 to 18 months we’re looking to have 10 or 11 projects on the go, and this will lead into us going for charitable status, which will allow us to help people out in the community.
“Not just kids, but encompass everyone in the community, we want to be able to give everybody a good time.”
There are nine teams in the Perth & Kinross Under 14’s Youth League. This season there is one team that stands out above the rest, Jeanfield. They have played 11 games and won 11 games remaining undefeated at the top of the table. I spoke with the team manager – Steve Antoniewicz – to find out the secrets to their success.
The team finished third in the league in their previous season with a record of 14 wins, 2 draws and 8 losses. This season, with an unbeaten 11 game win streak, their success has been attributed to team spirit and fresh players recruited over the summer. Steve said “The success has been down to a few factors. New additions have helped to improve the squad and our old players have matured and have been able to find their form. Also, as a group we have been able to focus on what we want to achieve.”
This maturity and growth has been made clear to the rest of the league, especially the previous cup champions. Steve commented “Our most exciting game was against Breadalbane, the team that had defeated us in a cup final at the end of last season. We took the lead early but then conceded an equaliser. Desire, determination and teamwork won us the match 2-1 and gave us the confidence to continue our run.” Both sides no doubt look forward to the next meeting in April, which should be another close run game.
Although confident and determined, the team also realise that maintaining this undefeated record will require hard work and dedication and they are taking each game in their stride. Steve said “We will certainly be approaching every game with confidence and going for the win but there are tough fixtures ahead and we expect teams to improve in the second half of the season.” A realistic and intelligent approach to the upcoming fixtures.
The team effort for Jeanfield is an obvious factor in their wins but Steve has pointed out players that have given standout efforts. He gives credit to these players to his team-mates as they couldn’t be performing this well without the help of the whole squad. “Our goalkeeper Connor Rosewell is a very consistent performer and backbone of our team. Lewis, a new addition during the summer plays central defence and is calm and composed. Ronan in centre midfield has made a great improvement and is having a big impact on matches. The real standout performer has been Daniel playing upfront. He has natural pace and has really improved his finishing.” Of course, none of these players would be standout without the rest of the team. This includes the coaches and the players who have made a collective effort to remain undefeated and stay at the top of the table.
Jeanfield have made their presence known early in the season and they are the team to beat in the Perth & Kinross Youth League.