Welcome freshers! As you make your way nervously up to the Fife coast and into the Bubble to embark on your university career, you may be wondering what will come of your sporting ability.
When you are not in the library grafting away until the early hours or revising studiously for a class test, the chances are there are a fair few among you who will be wanting to make your mark on our esteemed sports teams. Even if not a seasoned campaigner, there are still plenty of opportunities to take up an array of new sports.
However, if a tequila-induced Wednesday night that invariably ends with you staggering home with Dervish pizza in hand isn’t your cup of tea, worry not. Non-university sport in St Andrews is certainly no small fry.
The Athletic Union is the hub of all university sport. Situated on St Leonard’s Road it is only a 10 minute walk from the town centre, although if you are lucky enough to be residing in University Hall for the next year then let’s just say you’ll have no excuse for missing Monday morning circuits.
The centre itself is fully equipped. A revamped, state-of-the-art gym is hugely popular, and the sports hall is home to the volleyball, badminton, netball, martial arts and even cricket clubs to name but a few.
Outside there is an astroturf pitch that is the home to the hockey team, our club of the year, and it also doubles up as three five-a-side football pitches that can be used by anyone who fancies themselves as the next Ryan Gauld. As you would expect the cricket pitch has nothing of the pace and bounce of the WACA, but it is still a wonderful facility that is home to the current BUCS champions.
The football team enjoy the privilege of playing on an ultra-modern 4G pitch that local team Dundee also use to train occasionally. Not mention Manchester City and Barcelona, who have also ventured up north in recent years to train here.
Sports such as shinty and lacrosse are also thriving in St Andrews.
Away from the sports centre there are still opportunities to take up what some may call more adventurous sports. On the water there is the Rowing Club, but for those seeking an adrenaline rush you can also take up kayaking in preparation for some white-water action.
For those who don’t like the water, rising above sea-level with the rock climbers may be more down your alley.
There are plenty of other sports that have not been given their due here but the Sports Fayre on Saturday 13 September is the best place to find the great and the good of University sport. That, or getting yourself down to University Park on a Wednesday afternoon to experience these sports first hand.
For those of you who are not destined to captain the 1st XI football team in your university career there is the opportunity to play real-life Football Manager. Gather yourself a team and there are plenty of bar-sponsored six-a-side leagues that run throughout the semester where you can fulfil your potential. With leagues of different standards in action almost every night, there is no reason why you cannot get your name up in lights to claim victory in Rascal’s intermediate league. Trust me; there is no greater feeling in life.
Finally, there is the small matter of the golf. Whether a member of the University golf society or not, all students can purchase a links ticket for £180 for unlimited access to all seven courses in the town. If you are a complete beginner there is the nine-hole Balgove or the Strathtyrum; the Eden is more difficult and provides a gentle reminder of the parkland golf you experience at home. The New and Jubilee courses provide a stern test of golf, while the Castle Course is only good for destroying any confidence you may have in your game. The majestic last two holes, however, are worth each and every lost golf ball and obscenity muttered as you hack your way around the course. Lastly, the Old Course is of course historic, and the first time you stand on that first-tee you’d be a liar to say there are no nerves. Once over Swilican Byrne, however, it is a thoroughly enjoyable experience on a not-too-difficult course.
Beware the wind though. Nothing can be done to prepare yourself for a gale that forces you to hit a six iron from 100 yards away.
If you fancy yourself a better golfer than is being insinuated here though, the chances are you are right. There are three University golf teams that compete in and around Fife and they are more than happy to accommodate the very best of the new crop of freshers. Their end of year BBQ and day out at Kingsbarns are also reason enough to join.
So there it is. Your fears should no doubt be put to bed. Whether you will break into a first XV or struggle to make two appearances for the 3rd team, I guarantee joining a sports club is one of the best decisions you’ll make. The camaraderie in all clubs is second to none, which is no doubt helped by the experience of a Wednesday night at Sinners.
Get involved. You won’t regret it.
Not sure how to go about joining a club? Click here.