Insch and District 05’s league victory this season is reward for the teams hard work over the course of the campaign, says coach Kevin Danby.
His side won the ADJFA Division C-2 this year, beating Colony Colts 3-1 in their final match to clinch the title.
And Danby was full of admiration for the players’ efforts throughout: “We have four coaches and a good group of players – we can’t praise them highly enough.
“At the start of the season we knew we had some strong teams in our group and to achieve success we would need all of our players to give 110% in every game.
“We have all been impressed by how the team have bonded and applied themselves in games; week in and week out they’ve given maximum effort.
“They are teenagers though, and training sometimes requires a bit more focus. The good thing is that when we point this out, they take it on board.”
It was a fantastic effort to come out on top in an incredibly competitive division – there were four teams in with a chance at the title until late on in the season – that was made even more impressive by the fact that, last summer, they weren’t even sure they’d be able to field a team this season.
Danby explained: “The core of this team has been playing together for about eight years, but at the end of last season we were unsure if we’d continue as numbers were so low.
“Fortunately, during pre-season training we were lucky to gain several players, and this gave us good numbers and strengthened the team.”
From then they’ve hardly looked back; they put in impressive performances to win key games and dug in to grind out results at important times during the season. Danby mentioned two performances in particular:
“There are a couple of key games that spring to mind,” he said. “We played our closest rivals Deveronvale in a game played in atrocious conditions and the players really had to dig in to get the result. We won the game, but it took us a good while to thaw out.”
“Towards the end of the season it was tight at the top of the table and we knew we couldn’t afford to lose a game. We played Mintlaw away and were 4-1 up at half time, but at full time it finished 5-5. A point was ok, but had we lost it was unlikely we’d have been able to win the league. We played away to Mintlaw again the following week and we changed our game plan, which resulted in a win.”
The Mintlaw results meant they needed to win their remaining games to clinch the title and going into their final match they were on track, knowing a win would see them over the line. Danby recalls the match:
“To win the league we knew we needed to win our final game against Colony Colts,” he said. “All of the squad was at the game and a large number of parents and spectators turned up to watch.
“We knew it would be a tight game as the Colts had also been vying for promotion. The coaches tried to keep the players calm and focussed but we started the game nervously. We eventually settled and came out on top in a good game, winning 3-1.
“It seemed like an age for the whistle to go, but when it did there were loud cheers from our supporters and the team went crazy celebrating the league title win.”
After a long, hard-fought season, it’s no wonder they enjoyed their success. Same again next season?