While most of St Andrews is in the library, or recovering from a messy Friday night, the St Andrews Men’s Saturday Amateur team are down at the Sports Centre, or out in the Kingdom of Fife playing in its amateur football association first division.
Featuring players from all over the St Andrews football club, the Fife team have been playing every Saturday since September — unbeknownst to most of the University. Currently sitting in fourth place in Division One the boys managed to secure a place in the League Cup Final after beating Eastvale 3-2, who are currently top of the league, in what was a fiercely contested encounter.
Just last weekend the boys took on fifth-placed Valleyfield. As a taster of what was to come in the final, the Saints stormed to a 4-1 victory.
Despite exam season beginning to get underway, this Thursday the team and a bus full of fans headed to Kelty for the final.
As the game kicked off it was clear St Andrews were the stronger and more skilled of the two sides. With a chance on goal after just four minutes from fresher Akira Bowler, it was clear the Saints weren’t going to make it easy for Valleyfield. Just 12 minutes gone of the first half saw another Saints chance, with a great save from the Valleyfield keeper to deny St Andrews the early lead. Another two Saint chances in the next ten minutes: the first came from a great ball from captain Sami Azam-Ali, who found Ben Laws on the right, but the winger couldn’t convert the pass. The second coming from Bowler once again who unluckily fired wide.
Thirty minutes played and not a single chance from Valleyfield, and they were clearly getting frustrated. An awful challenge on midfielder Isaac Bonisteel earned St Andrews a free kick, but there was no one on the end of it. A Valleyfield attack, their first real chance of the game, was defended well by the back four putting the ball out for a throw-in.
With just a minute left of the first half Valleyfield found themselves down to 10 men, thanks to a second yellow card for their number 7. Despite being riddled with St Andrews chances, the first half ended goalless in Kelty.
The second half started much like the first, with the Saints again looking like the stronger team. After 53 minutes of play, their strength finally came to fruition with a goal from Bowler to put the Saints 1-0 up. Shortly followed by a second chance from Valleyfield, which goalkeeper Joel McInally saved with ease.
An incredible save from McInally once again denied a Valleyfield equaliser. Not only a spectacular save, it also allowed a break from James Thompson who managed to slot one past the keeper to make it 2-0. No more than 6 minutes later and Thompson managed to put another one past Valleyfield’s keeper, making it 3-0 with just 25 minutes of the second half played.
If you can believe it a mere two minutes later, Tom Grant fired in a shot from 25 yards out to put the Saints four goals ahead. A second yellow card for Valleyfield’s number 10 saw him given his marching orders after several spats with the referee (much to the delight of the St Andrews fans in the stands), and Valleyfield were down to just nine men, still with 20 minutes to go.
With just over a minute left, Thompson tried his luck again but couldn’t quite complete his hat trick. The referee blew his whistle and the boys erupted in celebration. A triumphant 4-0 win for the Saints — and, much to his delight, first clean sheet of the season for McInally.
It was a win that was never in doubt, and a true testament to the amazing team spirit of the Men’s Football Club at St Andrews.
Sadly, just last week the club announced that first team player Charlie Andrews had been diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma and is currently undergoing treatment. In honour of Charlie, whilst warming up and to lift the cup, the boys wore t-shirts with Get Well Soon Charlie across the front. I’m sure everyone on and off the pitch are sending all their love and support to Charlie at the moment.
An undeniable win, and a lovely sentiment from the team, it was a performance Charlie and the rest of the boys can be proud of.