The Early Years
The Club had its origins in 1877, losing the first match with Glasgow University at Corstorphine 1-0, but it was not until 1878 that the Club was formally constituted playing a return game with Glasgow at Hampden Park in January and drawing 2-2. EUAFC has been a member of the Scottish Football Association (formed 1873) since 1878.
The Club was one of the earliest University sports clubs and from the outset was part of Edinburgh University Athletic Club, formed in 1866 and the parent of the today’s Edinburgh University Sports Union (EUSU), which today has some 70 student sports clubs in its membership. The University had its own grounds at Corstorphine and these hosted Athletics, Cricket and Rugby football in addition to Association football. EUAFC’s team in its first season was drawn mainly from Ayr Academy, Perth Academy and from Winchester and Harrow public schools. Captain in seasons 1879-80 and 1880-81 was John Smith of Ayr, a founder member of the Club. He was representing EUAFC when he won his first full international cap for Scotland against England at Hampden Park on 13 March 1880 (a 5-4 win) and when (now titled Dr J Smith) he scored a hat trick for Scotland in a 3-2 victory against England at Sheffield on 10 March 1883. His third cap was earned against Wales at Wrexham on 12 March 1883 (a 4-1 victory).
Full international caps for Scotland were also gained by W Beveridge, a goalscorer in a 5-1 victory over Wales at Hampden Park in March 1880 and by J MacDonald in a 1-1 draw with England at Hampden Park in March 1886.
In the early years play was mainly within the Cup competitions of the SFA and the East of Scotland FA and saw EUAFC pitted against the leading clubs of that era. 1883 saw Heart of Midlothian defeated 5-2 in the final of the Edinburgh Shield played at Tynecastle Park. However the advent of the Scottish League in 1991 saw the emergence of professionalism and the amateur players of University Football had to find new competitive arenas with Scottish football.
The pattern of the 1890s continues in essence to be the story of EUAFC’s football. We see in the late 19th century the emergence of inter University football, ventures south of the border to play friendly fixtures with leading teams, all in addition to competitive matches against professional and amateur teams in the Edinburgh area. In 1900/01 season a strong University side was defeated in the final of the East of Scotland Association’s King Cup by the professionals of Cowdenbeath. In the Scottish (Challenge) Cup despite often receiving byes in the early rounds the University failed to make major impact in this competition. The only notable early success was a 3-2 home victory over Cowdenbeath in round 3 in October 1890.
1900 to 1940
The University students enjoyed their football and the Club generally thrived. There were disruptions, of course war was one: it depleted student numbers (and the ranks of every football club in the City) and it made matches more difficult to arrange. Then there was the Depression, which paradoxically may have had the effect of encouraging football, practised by young men with too much time on their hands. Over the early years of the 20th century inter-University football assumed new importance and prestige. There were matches with Aberdeen, Glasgow and St Andrews and also with Universities south of the border. In 1921 the Queen’s Park Football Club presented the magnificent Shield, which bears its name to the Scottish Amateur Football Association, for annual competition between the Scottish Universities. Edinburgh was to win this trophy for the first time in 1928/29. The captain of that season, W V (Bill) Stevens was prominent in later life in arranging a number of special Football Club re-union dinners, notably those to mark the years when former players, Dr Leonard Small (1967) and Dr James Matheson (1975) held office as Moderators of the Church of Scotland. The Club was strong and very active back in the 1930s fielding as many as 6 teams and happily settled at the University’s Craiglockhart playing fields (opened May 1896). There was a further boost with the start of the East of Scotland League in 1923/24 with strong representation from the Border communities. EUAFC did not join until 1926/27 season and left in 1930/31 to join the newly formed Edinburgh and District League. The demise of that League brought a return to the East of Scotland League in 1936/37. Since then, apart from the close down period for the 2nd World War (1939 to 1945), and the immediate post War years (1945/6 and 1946/7) EUAFC has been in continuous membership of the East of Scotland League and this has formed a major part of the Club’s annual programme.
The 1930s contained some vintage years for the Club with 4 consecutive Queen’s Park Shield successes (1930/31 to 1934/35) and an appearance in the Final of the Scottish Amateur Cup (first played for in 1909/10) in 1936/37.
1940s and 1950s
In the immediate post-War years 1947/48 stands out as a season of great success with victory in the Queen’s Park Shield and the capture of the East of Scotland Amateur Cup in the first year of this competition. An outstanding player within that team was the Captain Sandy Bruce, who scored 78 goals in the season. He was Scottish 100 yards champion, and while he later signed for Hibernian he was given few opportunities to perform at the professional level. A very important offshoot of the Club was the birth of the Spartans Football Club in 1951, a graduates’ club for many years, which welcomed many University footballers after completion of their studies. J.B. (Jimmy) Beaumont, its founder, was University Captain in 1948/49. The Spartans Football Club, while no longer exclusively for University graduates, continues to retain close links with the University and its football club. Ronnie Swan was EUAFC Captain in 1952/53 when the Queen’s Park Shield was regained. The Scottish Universities played English Universities at Westerlands, in Glasgow, on 20 December 1952, with Ronnie as Captain, in the first ever live televised football match in Scotland. It was to be 1957/58 before the Queen’s Park Shield was won again with Jimmy Dunnett in the side. Jimmy was to score 69 goals in the following season and to earn caps for British Universities. He was Captain of EUAFC in 1960/61. After graduating he embarked on a long period of playing and coaching success with Spartans before emigrating to Canada.
1960s and Scottish Qualifying Cup (South) success
The Scottish Qualifying Cup competition (introduced 1895/96) has always been a difficult one for the University, with the initial rounds coming at the start of September. In the modern era a place in the semi finals earned entry into the draw for the first and second rounds of the Scottish Cup, with potential for much needed revenue and publicity. The Qualifying Cup was restructured in 1930/31 into North and South divisions. EUAFC has won the Qualifying Cup (South) only once, in 1964/65 under the captaincy of S A (Stuart) Torode, when Peebles Rovers was defeated 4 -3 in the two leg final. The Scottish Cup draw presented EUAFC with a home 2nd round tie against Forfar Athletic. In a match played in difficult winter conditions on 27 January 1965 the University was defeated 4-1 with M D B Reed scoring the home side’s goal. The mid 60s saw a formidable striking partnership in the form of Dan Findlay and Ian Moffat, with both representing British as well as Scottish Universities and both holding office as Club Captain. There were successes in the Queen’s Park Shield in seasons 1961/62 and 1966/67 but at this time the first team found life hard going against the powerful University teams of Aberdeen and Glasgow and in a strong East of Scotland League.
Scottish Universities Representative Sides
EUAFC players have featured prominently in many of the Scottish Universities’ representative teams over the years. From 1965 to 1993 Scottish Universities competed annually against the other home nations in a group tournament format, involving (8) teams representing Scotland, N Ireland Wales, Oxford, Cambridge, London and England (2 teams), held during the Easter vacation. With 4 matches in 4 days for 18 man squads this was a demanding competition. Scotland had a strong record, winning the title on 12 occasions. Within a revised Home Nations format (Scotland, England, Wales and N Ireland) since 1994, with 3 games in 3 days, English Universities has been a powerful force, with players from over 100 institutions to call upon. However Scottish Universities continue to compete strongly and successfully.
Scottish International Amateur Caps
Scottish International Amateur teams were selected by the SFA and annual internationals commenced in season 1926/27 (with a match against England). Ireland and Wales entered the competitive arena in season 1928/29. With a break during the 2nd World War the series continued until season 1973/74. At this time England dispensed with the terms amateur and professional and all became players (either contract or non contract). Seven members of EUAFC earned a total of 17 Amateur International caps as follows: J R Russell (1) 1929 v England; T Sibbald (1) 1930 v Ireland; D Christie (4) 1936 v Ireland, 1937 v England, Ireland and Wales; R D G Gordon 1937 (3) v England, Ireland and Wales; A T Bruce (3) 1951 v England, Ireland and Wales; F R Larkin (3) 1961 v Ireland and Wales, 1963 v Wales; R Purvis (2) 1970 v Ireland and Holland.
Success in the 1970s
The 1970s brought a sustained period of success starting with the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup (first competed for in 1898) and won for the first time by EUAFC in 1972/73. Under the captaincy of Ian Smith Civil Service Strollers were defeated after extra time and on penalties in a final played at Tynecastle Park.
Ian Smith had invited Alan Chainey, a new member of staff within the University’s Physical Education Department, to coach the Club and he took on the task in September 1972 and continued in that role for ten seasons. The Queen’s Park Shield, played to a 14 game per team League format involving all 8 Scottish Universities, was won in 1973/74, starting a run of eight consecutive successes in this competition. Also in 1973/74 there was a rare appearance in the Scottish Cup as a result of reaching the last four in the Scottish Qualifying Cup (South). Queen’s Park FC were the opposition at Hampden Park in a first round Scottish Cup tie, which was rescheduled from the Saturday, (because of the Scottish League Cup Final between Dundee and Celtic), and played on Monday 17 December 1973 in the afternoon because of power restrictions in force at the time. The University came close to upsetting the odds before losing 1-0. In the following season the Club challenged strongly for a first East of Scotland League title, before losing out to Selkirk by a single point at the end of a 24 match programme. Season 1976/77 brought a second success in the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup with victory over Spartans in the final played at Canal Field and a first success in the King Cup (first competed for in 1888) with victory over Hawick Royal Albert FC in a final played at Galashiels. In late March 1977 there were 8 Edinburgh players in the Scottish Universities’ starting line-up for the final of the British Universities Group Tournament, against Wales at Cambridge (won 3-0). In a 50 match competitive programme the EUAFC first team had a season record of won 39, drawn 6 and lost 5, goals for 197 against 67. Selkirk once again headed the East of Scotland League by a single point from the EUAFC. David Arnott (who had been Club Captain in 1975/76) scored 38 goals and Colin Campbell 37 but they were surpassed by Stewart MacKinnon’s outstanding 61 goal tally. 1976/77 was to be the last season for the Football Club at Canal Field, with the Rugby Club moving there following the sale of Craiglockhart and EUAFC moving to East Peffermill for August 1977.
Colin Campbell on graduating in 1978 signed for Hibernian FC, where he soon became a first team regular under manager Eddie Turnbull. He played in the three Scottish Cup Finals (two replays) against Rangers in May 1979. Subsequently his career took him to Dundee United and to Airdrieonians. Derek Rodier was leading goalscorer for the University in season 1978/79 with 28 goals, and he too signed professional with Hibernian on graduating.
1980s and 1990s
With increased professional and family duties Alan Chainey stood down as Club Coach at the end of the 1981/82 season and was succeeded by recent graduate David Stewart for season 1982/83, before work took him away from Edinburgh. The Club was fortunate in being able to recruit Colin Hutchison to the post for the start of the 1984/85 season and to have the ongoing support of Dr Andrew Ross, graduate, athletics blue and Dean of Divinity, who had become an active supporter of the Club when oldest son Gavin came to the University in 1976. Andrew, who was to become the Club’s first Honorary President and Colin recognized the need to consolidate Club administration and the coaching structure across the three teams. Colin, an Aberdeen graduate and long time Spartans player, was teaching in Edinburgh and gave enormous service to the Club, as Head Coach from 1984 to 1996, as first Chairman of the Club’s Development Committee and also in representing EUAFC within the East of Scotland League and Association. Success was becoming harder to achieve within an enlarged East of Scotland League, which divided into a Premier and a First Division in 1987/88. The Coaching structure within the Club was extended with the addition of first Scott Fraser and then Colin Campbell at first team level and with the introduction of coaches at 2nd and Colts team levels. The Queen’s Park Shield was won in seasons 1989/90, 1991/92, 1993/4 and again in 1995/96. There was an increased focus upon University Football with the restructuring of British Universities Sport and entry from season 1992/93 (for the first time) for the leading 2 Scottish Universities into the final stages of the British Universities Cup. In season 1993/94, under the captaincy of Brian Scott, Edinburgh progressed from the last 16 stage to the Final where they defeated Cardiff 2-1 in a replay at York (following a 3-3 draw after extra time in the Final played at Walsall’s Bescot Stadium), to win the BUSA Cup and the title of British Universities’ Champions. The Final was again reached in 1995/96 but on this occasion, again at the Bescot Stadium, the Roehampton Institute emerged as winners, 2-1 after extra time. At this time in both the BUSA Cup and the British University Games (Home Nations Tournament) Scottish Universities punched above their weight, frequently competing against teams which included professional and semi professional players. In Scotland at this time the University Football clubs were restricted to fielding players holding Amateur status.
The EUAFC Development Committee
Colin Hutchison elected to step down from coaching duties in Summer 1996, but continued to assist the Club, most notably as chair of the newly formed Development Committee. A formal launch of the Development Committee and a Players Reunion Dinner was held on Saturday 29 November 1997 with over 100 attendees. As its name suggests the Committee seeks to assist the longer term development of the Club. While EUAFC is fortunate in receiving a fresh intake of student footballers each Autumn, has the energy and enthusiasm of its elected student officials plus outstanding training and playing facilities at Peffermill, the Club has suffered in comparison to other Senior clubs because of the lack of continuity in playing resources and administration along with a paucity of coaching resources to manage and develop players across the Club. The pre and early season period, July to September, is always critical in laying the foundations for the Senior team’s season, but all too often the Club has lacked a strong playing squad for this period. Over the past two decades major attempts have been made to address these weaknesses. The financial base of the Club remains fragile, with Sports Union grant funding meeting only roughly 20% of core footballing expenditures. The financial base has been extended through a range of fundraising initiatives, with efforts made to enlist the support of former players, while longer term strategies and objectives have been established. The 200 Club provides an important source of income, as does local sponsorship and player membership subscriptions. Bob Dryburgh (player 1972-75 and Secretary 1974/75) has been an immense supporter of the Club with major sponsorship each season for two decades. Dr Ian Smith chaired the Development Committee from its formal launch in 1997 until he stepped down in Spring 2010. The other initial non-student members were Colin Hutchison, the late Dr Andrew Ross and Alan Chainey. The Development Committee make up has the Club’s student officers holding a majority of membership. After Colin Hutchison stepped down his place was taken by Stewart Fowlie (Club Captain 1998/99, 1999/2000 and 2000/01).
With a measure of support for Youth development from the Scottish Football Association and a major commitment from the Club, professional coaching expertise was recruited in Summer 1997 in the form of Head Coach Neil Orr. Neil had enjoyed a long and successful playing career with Morton, West Ham and Hibernian before turning his attention to coaching. He was engaged to work part-time (25 hours per week for 10 months per season) as Head Coach and first team Manager. After 5 successful seasons, during which time EUAFC won the Queen’s Park Shield on 3 occasions (1998/99, 1999/2000 and 2000/01) earned promotion to the East of Scotland Premier Division (2000/01), were runners up in the King Cup and twice losing semi-finalists in the BUSA Cup, Neil moved on to take up a post as an SFA Youth Development Officer within Midlothian in Summer 2002. In 2011 he moved with his family to Canberra, Australia and continues to work in Football development.
In June 2002 the Club was able to obtain the coaching services of Kenny Black, former player with Rangers, Motherwell, Hearts, Portsmouth, Airdrieonians and Raith Rovers. Kenny, like coaches Colin Campbell and Neil Orr before him, with the approval of the Club and the Sports Union, was eligible to represent the Club in the non-University programme. All three clearly demonstrated their high playing standards and experience of the Senior game, benefiting both team performance and player development. Kenny Black had a very successful seven month spell with EUAFC before his playing and coaching talents were recruited back to Airdrie United in January 2003. By this time the Club had reached the final of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup and was well placed to earn promotion from the First Division back to the Premier Division of the East of Scotland League. Stewart Fowlie, Sports Union President in 2002/03 and a key first team player at the time, took over Kenny’s coaching duties until the end of the season. Despite the disappointments of losing in the Final of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup to Edinburgh City at the Pennypit, Prestonpans, and at the quarter final stage of the BUSA Cup to Northumbria (after having ousted holders Loughborough in the last 16 stage), promotion was duly earned and the Club went up as First Division champions.
New Coaching team and a new era of success
The Club was in buoyant mood for the challenges ahead as Douglas Samuel took charge as Head Coach in Summer 2003, after a successful playing career as an attacking midfielder with Meadowbank Thistle, Whitehill Welfare and latterly with Spartans. He was undoubtedly a Scottish Qualifying Cup (South) specialist with 8 winners’ medals on his sideboard, a record 6 of these with Whitehill. There was no doubting his commitment to the EUAFC cause as he put on hold a career with Standard Life in order to take on the challenge of coaching EUAFC on a part-time basis! He brought with him a team comprising Assistants Neil Irvine and John Bird and Goalkeeping Coach Gary Donaldson. Their first task was to secure the Club’s place within the Premier Division in season 2003/04 (promotion in 2001 having been followed by immediate relegation in 2002). Notable performances included a 2-1 victory over Whitehill Welfare at home in the League on the afternoon preceding the Club’s 125th anniversary dinner, attended by over 200 players in the University’s Playfair Library, on the evening of Saturday 20 September 2003. Also outstanding was a hard fought 2-2 draw at home with Spartans in the League later in the season. Season 2004/05 saw further progress with a hard working and talented squad achieving 3rd place in the Premier League and victory over Spartans (2-1, after extra time) in the Final of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup played at Riccarton. That season also saw 8 Edinburgh players in the Scottish Universities squad of 18, which won the Home Nations Tournament played at Peffermill in early April. In addition first team Captain Daniel Gerrard was selected by the SFA for their non-League side to play in the annual Home Nations Tournament held in Cork. This followed outstanding performances for EUAFC, Scottish Universities and for the East of Scotland Select.
Season 2004/05 was a difficult one to follow, with 8 experienced players graduating including Gerrard (who moved to Spartans), Tommy Lennox (to Albion Rovers) and John Mackay (to Nairn County). So it proved and it was not until after another (against the odds) 1-0 League triumph, in early February, over all conquering Spartans (winners of the Qualifying Cup South and outstanding performers in the Scottish Cup) that retention of EUAFC’s place in the East of Scotland Premier League was assured. The young team eventually finished 8th in the 12 team Premier League, but much valuable experience had been gained and the coaching team had unearthed and blooded a considerable amount of new talent. In looking back at his first 3 seasons at the helm Douglas Samuel reflected on the continued failure to make impact in the Scottish Qualifying Cup (South) and also in the Queen’s Park Shield. The players shared the coaching team’s hunger for success and it was a very determined, talented and good-sized squad which commenced pre-season in early July. The signs were promising in a testing run of pre-season matches. A first round Scottish Qualifying Cup (South) tie at home against Glasgow University was successfully negotiated (2-0), before an epic test at home against Whitehill Welfare, where a last minute decisive header home from a corner by Scott Munro earned a 2-1 win and a place in round 3. Vale of Leithen was comfortably defeated (3-0) away and the rewards of a place in the Scottish Cup proper and a semi final berth in the Qualifying Cup (South) were eagerly grasped.
The draw for the Tennent’s Scottish Cup 1st and 2nd rounds was held (for the first time) at the University, in the Societies Centre in the Pleasance, at lunchtime on Thursday 19 October 2006, with a considerable presence from the SFA, the sponsors, the participating clubs and the media. The draw gave EUAFC a home first round tie with Highland League Keith FC, to be played on the afternoon of Saturday 18 November. Hosting a major Highland League Club was a new challenge to the Club but with considerable support from the University the game was well staged at East Peffermill, before a record crowd of over 800. The team produced an outstanding performance and a result to remember, a 2-1 victory with a first half double from Michael Hazeldine. The second round draw took EUAFC to Central Park, Cowdenbeath to face the Blue Brazil of the Scottish Second Division, with the University Principal Tim O’Shea attending a major soccer game for the first time. Despite another fine performance the University was defeated 5-1, but not disgraced, and substitute Jack Beesley scored arguably the goal of the tie (and round). The season brought success with the winning of the King Cup for only the second time and a 4th place/12 finish in the East of Scotland Premier League.
Season 2007/08 brought further Scottish Cup success with entry now automatic to first round stage for Non-League SFA member clubs. The draw gave EUAFC a bye in round one and another home tie in round two. This time against Highland League Deveronvale and once again with a good crowd the University produced a great performance and a 3-1 victory. The third round draw took EUAFC to Aberdeen for a tie with Highland League front runners Cove Rangers. After a tense and fairly even contest it took a goal in the final minute to secure a 1-0 victory for the home side. That level of performance was sustained over the season and brought the University very close to a first East of Scotland Premier League title with a record of P22, Won 15, D4 and Lost 3, Goals for 41 and against 14, for 49 points, only one less than title winners Whitehill Welfare.
Sadly Summer 2008 saw the loss of the Club’s Honorary President Dr Andrew Ross. EUAFC was strongly represented at Andrew’s funeral service, with son Gavin and Club Chairman Dr Ian Smith making powerful tributes to a great man. A pre-season fixture with Hibernian Under 19s was held in his honour and in November with his wife Joyce and the family present the Club room at East Peffermill was dedicated in his name. For over 30 years the Doc had been a tireless supporter of the Club.
Season 2008/09 brought 4th place in the League, and a place in the final of the South of Scotland Challenge Cup (which had been introduced in 2007/08 to take the place of the SFA Qualifying Cup (South). Unfortunately injuries severely weakened the team for that final and Spartans emerged as comfortable winners in a game played at Meadowbank stadium. After the exciting Scottish Cup exploits of 2006/7 and 07/8, the first round home defeats in 2008/09 to Civil Service (1-2), and in 2009/10 to Vale of Leithen (0-3) were disappointing. In 2010/11 another home draw brought Highland League Brora Rangers to Peffermill. The visitors escaped with a last minute equaliser for a 2-2 draw and proved a better side in the replay, winning 2-1. The 2010/11 season saw long awaited success at inter-University level in the winning of the Queen’s Park Shield and outstanding performances in the BUSA Cup when entering at the last 64 stage. EUAFC progressed to the Final with victories over St John, York 2-0 away, Sheffield Hallam 4-1 at home, Leeds 2-1 away, Birmingham 2-1 at home and Bournemouth on penalties, after a 2-2 draw after extra time, in the semi final, played at Warwick. Holders Hartpury provided the opposition in the final played at Bramall Lane, Sheffield on the evening of Wednesday 11 May 2011. With financial backing and much encouragement from the Principal there was good support from the University and the crowd saw a very entertaining game with Hartpury emerging as 4-2 winners. Edinburgh’s James Craigen was voted man of the match and he was selected for the Great Britain and Ireland squad of 18 to compete in the Summer Universiade to be held in Shenzhen, China. He was joined by former player and post-graduate student Andrew Cook (now playing with Brechin City, after an earlier spell with Raith Rovers). EUAFC and Spartans stalwart Stewart Fowlie was Programme Manager for the Men’s and Women’s teams. The Men earned medals for the very first time after a 6 match programme which brought a semi final victory over Brazil, before losing 2-0 to Japan in the Final.
Season 2011/12 saw no change in recent fortune in the Scottish Cup, losing 0-3 at home to Whitehill Welfare in round one, but 5th place in the East of Scotland Premier League in season 2010/11 was followed with 4th place in 2011/12 and another success in the Scottish Conference Merit 1A, but this time no Queen’s Park Shield. The format for the QPS was altered to knockout, taking account of Stirling University now playing in the BUCS Premier Leagues on a Wednesday, and EUAFC lost away to Stirling on penalties at semi final stage of the QPS.
At the end of the season James Craigen elected to sign for Partick Thistle and most dramatically for the Club, Douglas Samuel moved to Spartans as Team Manager, taking with him the coaching and back room staff of Neil Irvine, Mark Cairns and Craig Samuel. Douglas and his team had served EUAFC nobly since Summer of 2003. Their knowledge of the game had enabled them to recruit a good number of experienced student footballers to the Club, to develop strong squads and to perform consistently well across both University and Senior Football. Their dedicated work brought great success to the Club, set high standards for a decade of talented players to follow, challenging them to achieve excellence in both the academic and sporting spheres of their lives.
In August 2012 the University Principal hosted a special ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London at which the Brazilian international footballer, three times World Cup winner, Pele, received an Honorary degree. The degree celebrates Pele’s significant contribution to humanitarian and environmental causes as well as his sporting achievements. EUAFC First team Captain Daniel Main and experienced first team goalkeeper Mark Tait were in attendance and presented Pele with a University first team jersey.
Dorian Ogunro, graduate and former player, who had been working successfully with the Club’s Under 21 side, was recruited to the post of Head Coach for the start of the 2012/13 season. Once again the early season first round Scottish Cup tie brought disappointment, losing 2-1 at home to St Cuthbert Wanderers (who had surprisingly defeated Highland League Keith 1-0 away in a preliminary round tie). The departure of a number of senior players and a long catalogue of injuries severely disrupted the head coach’s team building and contributed to a large number of narrow defeats in the Cups, the Premier League and also in the inter University programme. With a final placing of 11th/12, relegation from the Premier League was in prospect until the launch of the SPFL Lowland League (with Whitehill Welfare, Spartans, Stirling University, Gretna 2008, Edinburgh City and Preston Athletic from the Premier League joining). Spartans and Stirling University chose to retain teams in the East of Scotland, so there was a reprieve from relegation for both Tynecastle and the University, with Craigroyston, Coldstream and Leith Athletic coming up from Division One.
Dr. Ian Smith (Club Captain 1972-73) had served as Club Chairman since 1997, when the Development Committee had been formally launched. He played a major part in the very successful 125th anniversary reunion dinner held on 20 September 2003 and attended by 200. Ian represented the Club strongly within the East of Scotland FA and worked effectively with the Players’ Committee and the Coaching staff. He did a great deal to help raise the Club’s profile within and beyond the University. The Doc and Ian were a great team, their passion for the Club was clear for all to see. Following a move to the Borders in Summer 2009 Ian stepped down as Club Chairman in Summer 2010.
He continues to serve the Club as a Vice President (along with Bob Dryburgh and Gavin Ross). Stewart MacKinnon took over as Club Chairman with Professor Billy Whyte coming on board as Vice Chairman. In 2011 Cameron MacKinnon came onto the Development Committee as Senior Treasurer, taking the place of Stewart Fowlie.
Ian Smith had battled long and hard to manage the difficulties created by the presence of the main University Cricket square alongside the main Football pitch. The loss of the first team football pitch at mid April each year put the Club at odds with the East of Scotland League authorities and the first team at a disadvantage. The introduction of Club Licensing by the SFA and the proposals for a ‘pyramid structure’ across Senior Football in Scotland, required EUAFC to develop its vision for the future. To retain membership of the SFA and annual entry to the Scottish Cup, EUAFC would be required to meet Club Licensing (at Entry level) by 2015. Working with the University (Estates, Centre for Sport and Exercise (CSE) and the Sports Union), EUAFC sought to agree a strategy which would take the Club forward by meeting the Ground Licensing criteria by the due date.
There have been a series of major developments to sporting facilities at the University’s 27 acre Peffermill site since the mid 1980s. In summer 2012 Scotland largest 3G pitch, with floodlighting, was constructed at West Peffermill, in close proximity to the two artificial grass Hockey academy pitches. In addition the tennis court area was converted into three 3G 5-a-Side pitches and cricket practice nets were also incorporated within the overall development. The 3 G pitch provides an excellent training facility for EUAFC, with all 4 Club sides able to train together on Monday and Thursday evenings on the one site. The pitch also hosted a considerable number of the Club’s fixtures during 2012/13, including some end of season first team matches. A high level of University and non University usage has been generated in the 3G pitch’s first year of operation .
The 3G pitch can also be used for Rugby Football.
With great support from the University EUAFC has been able to move forward with a ground development strategy geared to meeting SFA Club Licensing criteria at Entry level. This involves significant upgrading to the East Peffermill pavilion (Summer 2013), the relocation of the first team pitch to a north/south orientation in front of the pavilion, the enclosing of the ground, the addition of a small stand facility for 250 persons and pitch floodlighting (Summer 2014). The main cricket square will be relocated further west on the East Peffermill field. The University is giving full financial support to the project and the development of a stadium facility should provide a massive boost to the Club and to the sport of football at the University. During 2012/13 season the Club engaged in discussions with the Women’s Football Club with the aim of bringing the Clubs into a stronger working partnership.
The requirements of Club Licensing will challenge the Club to strengthen its Administration, its Football programme, its finances and relevant support services. Over the past 135 year EUAFC has been forced to adapt as the game of football has evolved. That process will surely continue.
It is difficult to do justice to the multitude of players and officials who have been involved with the Edinburgh University Association Football Club. For all those who are, or have been members of the Club there will be rich memories of triumphs and of failures, of travels near and far. But most especially there will be memories of the friendship and camaraderie which characterize training sessions, match day ventures, social events and leave such lasting impressions on all those fortunate enough to be involved with the Club. An outline history attempts to document some of the most significant events, players and personalities–but will inevitably fail to recall the complete story. One of the great features of the University side is the ever-changing pool of talent, with the need to replace those who graduate and move on an annual challenge.
The last century and more has witnessed a sea change in University sport and in Scottish football. Today there is a vibrant and busy programme of cup and league football for all four of EUAFC’s teams. University facilities have been greatly enhanced for training and for competitive play across a wide range of sports. When East Peffermill emerges from its major upgrade, Edinburgh University football will be able to hold its head high among its Scottish peers and far beyond.
What is important for the Club now is to seize the momentum of recent times and to build upon the past success, so that each successive year has the chance to benefit from the past and to build for the future. For this Edinburgh University football has some pressing needs. There has to be a continuation of the great tradition of leaders and administrators giving up time to ensure that the Club operates efficiently. There has to be a strong spirit among the student members to commit to the demands which participation in high-level football undoubtedly involves. And there has to be the hard-headed realisation that this effort must be backed up by professionalism and far sighted planning behind the scenes. The Club has to work strongly with its key partners within the University, notably the Centre for Sport and Exercise and the Sports Union, within Student Sport (Scottish Student Sport and British Universities and Colleges Sport) and within the governing bodies of Scottish Football. Edinburgh University has a great football tradition because many have given their time, energy, resources and commitment. If this can be sustained then the future of football at the University will be a bright one.
Alan Chainey, Honorary President.