Mens 3rd Team – Captain’s Season Review
Looking back on the 2019-2020 season for the St Andrews Men’s 3rd Team from my home here in North Vancouver, Canada, comes with a bittersweet taste for myself. This is due in equal parts to this being my last season with the club, along with the successes and experiences we had as team this year, not to mention the circumstances in which the entire world finds itself. This year I had the incredible honour and privilege of being the captain for the Men’s 3s. The squad this year looked drastically different to the one last year, after a number of departures of some key senior members. A key aspect of this was the influx of First Years in the team, 7 in total. In the make-up of the squad, this was almost half of the team. While this was always going to be a challenge, I feel as if this was a strength which the team came into as the season got started, as the squad bonded extremely quickly, and to great effect.
A BUCS season is always interesting due to its short time span. It burns bright in the first semester, with games week after week, one after the other, the team settling into a rhythm. In the second semester, it burns even brighter, but is extinguished all too soon, with all games finishing usually before the March Break. An interesting thing University Football is. However, this year for the Men’s 3s, the usually jam-packed first semester was not as intense as usual. After a season highlight victory in the Varsity Match against Dundee 3s, with a score line of 5-1, the 3s began the season with a mixed bag of results in the league. A 0-0 draw away to Aberdeen 4s, which should have been a victory, a 2-0 loss to the St Andrews Men’s 2s, a frustrating 4-0 loss to Dundee 2s after a lackluster showing, and another season highlight win of 3-1 over Abertay 2s, rounded off the first batch of league fixtures. However, this only took the squad to the middle of October. Due to the rescheduling of fixtures and inclement weather in November and December, the 3s would have to wait until the new year for their next league game. In this period however, the team would play their first-round fixture of the SSS Cup in November, away against Edinburgh Napier 1s on their turf pitch. While this fixture would end 3-0, and result in our exit from the cup, the score line does not reflect the quality of play of the 3s against a squad who, at that time, were sitting top of the league two divisions above.
Moving into the New Year, the 3s were presented with an interesting landscape of games ahead of them. With a rare, massive total of 6 games left in the league, which is unheard of for a team in second semester, the squad was raring to get started. The first match against Dundee 2s was an opportunity to get back not only 3 points from, but a bit of pride against the team who had admittedly drubbed us 4-0. The match at Riverside in Dundee would finish 2-1 for the away side, 3 points back to the Saints. The next week’s match against St Andrews 2s was an almost identical affair to the earlier fixture. After a strong start for the 2s in the first 25 minutes, capitalizing on two defensive errors on the part of the 3s, the 3rd team began to show its quality in the second half, with numerous chances placing the 2s on the back foot for the remainder of the match. However, a late goal from the 3s would not be enough to grasp a perhaps deserved draw, and it would finish 2-1. The next match against Aberdeen 3s, saw the 3s make the trip up to Aberdeen for the second time in the season. Due to a rather dodgy playing surface and a perhaps equally dodgy refereeing performance, the match would end in a 1-1 draw. The following week would however, see the 3s achieve perhaps their best win of the season. Against Aberdeen 4s, the 3s would dominate from start to finish at Cupar Sports Centre, resulting in a 6-2 victory. Certainly, a season highlight. The week after, playing away against Abertay 2s, the match abounded with frustration. After going 1-0 up in the first ten minutes, a decidedly lackluster performance for the rest of the half saw the 3s trailing 3-1. While the match would end 5-4 for Abertay, the squad showed resilience and character to pull two late goals back before the match ended all too soon. The final game of the season saw the 3s face-off against Aberdeen 3s at home. After a slow start to the match where Aberdeen pulled ahead 2 goals, the 3s battled back to pull it to 2-1 by the half. Unfortunately, even though the 3s were able to bring it level soon after the restart, a defensive error near the edge of the penalty area saw Aberdeen capitalize from the resulting free-kick and the squad deflate. The match would finish 6-2.
While this was perhaps not the way that anyone on the team had hoped, envisioned, or dreamed for out season to end, it is no use to dwell on the frustrations of the season. For a season is a season. A long time. And in the case of the 3s, in reflection, it was a very good time. Highlights such as Varsity, the 3-1 win against Abertay, the 2-1 scrap against rivals Dundee, and the 6-2 victory against Aberdeen 4s, take a bit of the sting out of the frustrations and tribulations. But this season was a good time not just on the field. The Men’s 3rd team also had a fantastic year off the field as well. Including being regular attendee’s at the club socials and enjoying other gatherings with each other outside of the usual football locales, a number of the members of the squad this year have also been voted to lead the club for the coming year next year in 2020-2021, including defender Luke Simboli, the incoming Club President, midfielder Euan McKnight, the incoming Vice-President, and midfielder Nick-Warren, the incoming club media convener.
As I mentioned, it has been an honour to be the captain of this simply fantastic team, and I have thoroughly enjoyed every single second of it. From the early morning trainings on Monday, to the memories made on away trips, to the victories and defeats along the way, I can truly say that this season for the St Andrews Men’s 3rd Team has been a resounding success, in many more ways than one.
Men’s 3rd Team Captain