Following a promotion to the second division of the BUCS league last year, the men’s football team continues to grow and develop as one of the highlights of St Andrews’ sporting successes. In just short of three years here as Director of Football, Stuart Milne has been a busy man. He cuts a composed and confident figure as we discuss the progress that football has experienced at this University since his arrival in 2011.
“When I got here, there wasn’t much in the way of staff. The women’s team was just being run by a student,” admits Stuart.
“Now we have an accomplished team of team coaches, physios, a goalkeeper coach, strength and conditioning coaches and the aid of video analysts from the University of Abertay.
“Participation is at an all-time high,” he continues, “We’ve progressed from having three men’s teams and one women’s team to having five men’s teams and two women’s teams.”
It is hard to believe that participation has been so radically increased in such a short space of time. Clearly, a lot of work has gone on behind the scenes in order to drive this increase in numbers.
“Quality of facilities plays a big part in increasing numbers,” explains Stuart. “For the first time since I’ve been here, we’ve lost the core of the first team as they’ve graduated and moved on, but the increase in participation means that we can deal with that much more easily.
“The upside is that the current squad is young and has quality and we have them now for three or four years. “There is now a clear path from development squad through to the first team, which is making it much easier to cope with losing members of the first XI.”
It is difficult to imagine continued growth from a club which you might think has hit the height of its potential in St Andrews, but Milne was quick to disagree.
“You’re always looking to improve and develop the side,” I am quickly told.
“The aim at the moment is to get the second and third teams promoted; the third team in particular look like strong candidates for promotion this year.”
Success is far from limited to simply the men’s teams. In the last two years, the number of players in the women’s squad has risen from around fifteen to forty-seven.
Stuart was keen to attribute continued development to better facilities and staff. However, there is no doubt that he has played a big role in the recent successes of the football club. And it seems that he is not content to let this progress stagnate. It seems that we can expect great things from this club in the years to come.
Image courtesy of Saints Sport