THERE may be a chill in the air and little sign of spring on the horizon, but cup final season is already upon Edinburgh’s youth and amateur footballers.
Currie Star 13s were the first club to lift silverware in front of a well-attended Tom Welsh Cup final as they defeated opponents North Merchiston 6-4 after extra-time to complete a memorable comeback at Saughton Enclosure last Friday.
With approximately 50 youth finals to be contested over the next three months, South East Region Youth Football Association’s (SERYFA) secretary Allan Archibald is relishing the imminent drama that is expected to unfold.
Archibald said: “Last Friday was a wonderful example of football and I had a phone call from somebody saying it was the best £2 they had spent in a long time. The quality of the goals was something to be seen and it was a shame there had to be a loser. Both teams were magnificent and they were a credit to their clubs and their parents, so it was a fantastic evening. I hope this is just the start of some cracking finals.”
With the majority of cup competitions now reaching the latter stages, Archibald concedes the logistics surrounding arranging suitable venues for finals remains dependent on the clubs who progress to the final itself.
“If you look at the final we had last week at Saughton involving Currie Star and North Merchiston 13s, two local teams, you wouldn’t take that to Olivebank in Musselburgh or Dalkeith or Bonnyrigg for that matter.
“Not every final has to be Saughton, so you have to look at the wider spectrum and look who’s playing who. On the other side, Saughton is ideal because we can put on double-headers with having the floodlights there.
“What we do is the teams or clubs from a local area where there is a junior club and that club is quite prepared to host the final, then that’s where it will be played if we can agree on a date. The rules are that all junior grounds are deemed neutral and there are no youth clubs that play on those parks anyway.”
Archibald added: “All we are looking to do is to give teams an opportunity at something they may never get to do and that is play in a cup final.
“By having individual league cups, we want to give teams in the lower divisions a chance to play teams at their own level within a cup final environment. You’re catering for more than 100 teams so it’s a lot of work, but everyone within the association enjoys it.”
With more than 20 cup finals to be contested within the city’s amateur scene over a similar period, it would be fair to suggest those concerned are hoping for something of a reprieve from the recent cold snap.