Football Club interview with Stuart Milne

What makes the Football Club special?

“The Football Club offers players the opportunity to come in and play whatever experience or background they’ve got and do it to a very good level. Whether players want to come to a performance, competitive, or recreational tier, there’s something for everyone. There is the Sunday league, the BUCS programme or six-a-side to name a few, and the Club has the feeling of a one-club dimension where we have a number of different events with alumni or current players, whether it be training or socials; it’s a great opportunity to meet new people, learn the game, and have fun whilst doing it!”

What are the different ability levels at the club?

“Plenty will come in various experience levels: some will have played to a good level; some will have played academy football to club level in the US, UK, or other parts of Europe, and will want to continue that. Some will have had no experience at all and want to pick it up for the first time at university. There are programmes for development squads, and recreational players, who just want to have some fun and meet new friends. Some will play semi-competitively, whether that’s six-a-side leagues or Sunday eleven-a-side leagues, there will be an opportunity to play within that environment. Top players play in a BUCS squad, from our men and women’s second team down to the men’s sixth team or women’s third team.”

Six-a-side or eleven-a-side?

“The six-a-side league runs a few nights a week at the sports centre and the eleven-a-side league is on Sundays, plus there are of course BUCS programmes. The men’s fourth, fifth and sixth teams all compete in the same league on a regional basis, playing against teams from the East region including Dundee and Aberdeen. On the women’s side you’ve got a national league in the three tiers; for the first team you would have opposition such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling and Strathclyde. The lower tier has a lot of other institutions across the country and the latter half of the men’s side starts to tighten up into more of a national league format. The first team tier two oppositions are Napier, Stirling, Strathclyde, and Dundee for instance, and the Second’s will play similar.”

Promotion and relegation?

“Every league has one promotion and one relegation slot, the only exception is the men’s third tier in which underneath that it branches out, so the fourth tier is split into two, as it starts to open up on either side of the country. The women’s finished top of Tier One as they did last time, but their situation is different in getting to the Northern British League as there is a new system that will kick in next year. We will have to compete against teams finishing bottom of Premiership North in England to come through our semi- final and final system to get promotion.”

Cup competitions?

“If you take the first team, the women will play in the “She Can She Will” cup, which any team within Scotland can enter, and they will always play in the Women’s National Trophy, the British Cup, so anyone from tier one across England and Scotland are then entered into that. For the men, the first team will play in the Conference Cup, and will be trying to retain it this season. They also play in the Queens’ Park Shield, only for first teams across Scotland. We won it three years ago, the first time in a long time that we had managed to win it;, it is one of the oldest student cup competitions there is to play in! For everybody else, the men’s second and third teams will play in the Conference Cup; the fourth, fifth and sixth teams will play in the Conference Plate; the women’s second and third teams will both play in the “She Can She Will” cup and the Women’s Conference Cup.”

What about alumni events?

“This is another thing that makes the club special. Current and past club members get together every April, and we’ll go through a series of different events on the weekend, like: alumni tournaments, an alumni versus current squad match, an end of season dinner at the Old Course Hotel, and award ceremonies for all current players for the competitive season. We also do a number of different engagement events including careers events, life skills and employment skills sessions where alumni can pass across to current players. It is a special bond where they help guide the current St Andrews cohort through their time at university, giving advice about the employment world, applications, CVs, interview techniques, and jobs themselves.”

What do you enjoy about coaching?

“The main thing you take away from coaching is helping a player get better. And that starts the process., If they get a better experience, they are going to learn and develop, which in turn helps the group. And when you get that with one player you can add it in to more players on a week- to- week basis so that across the group if you see one of them kick on you’ve got a chance of being successful. The more players you do it with, the greater chance you have of creating a winning mentality, winning games and enjoying the positive atmosphere that comes with it. Lot of experiences that students will leave with will be with what they’ve done with extracurricular activities, some of the best memories, good people as well as good footballers. Individuals and groups develop with us —, we’ve done that well in the last few years., We have been successful across the club in terms of promotions and cups and players playing well, and all the coaches have worked hard to make a difference to the players year in, year out.”

Next semester?

“We play all academic year round, playing right through to early April. We cater for everyone, regardless of background or level of interest, so feel free to join!”

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