Since his appointment in 2011 as the Director of Football, Stuart Milne has headed the University football programme, and transformed the clubs structure. He speaks with pride about this growth, stating: “When I was appointed, there were three mens teams and one womens team. Now we have 200 registered players across six mens teams and three womens teams”. This increase in the number of the teams has come with an improved coaching and training regime. Mr. Milne claims “the football club has the makings of a professional club sporting experience, with its 1st class facilities, experienced coaches and dynamic training programme. We now have one of the best university football organisations in the UK.” To have nine competitive teams across both genders is no mean feat and is a testament to the hard work put in by Mr. Milne and his colleagues in the past few years.
The statistics back up Mr. Milne’s bold claims, as the women’s 1st team have won two Scottish Conference Cups and five promotions have been achieved among the teams in the past five years. Mr. Milne proudly attributes this success to the commitment of the players; “they understand that football is an extracurricular activity, but few players ever miss training.” With six trainings a week, plus weekly matches, this means that players in the top men’s and women’s teams have to commit a lot of time to the programme, which Mr. Milne sees as a necessary payoff in the form of positive results.
This semester he is aiming for continued progress across the whole programme. “Our men’s 1sts and 2nds are targeting promotion, while the women’s 1sts want to do as well as possible in the two cup competitions they are still in. We want the rest of the teams to pick up as many points as possible and continue to improve.” The mens 1sts currently sit atop the Scottish 2A division, four points clear of nearest challengers Glasgow with the 2nds also top of their division, the Scottish 4B. However, their margin over the 2nd placed side is narrower, with Abertay just one point behind them going into the second half of the season. For the longer term, Mr. Milne seeks consolidation rather than expansion: “We are now at capacity in the number of teams we have. It will be our aim to improve the existing teams.”
This expansion has brought unexpected success, as demonstrated by the fact that the newest men’s team, the 6s, currently sit above the men’s 5th team in the league table. The 6s impressed last time out, beating the University of the Highlands and Islands 6-1 to move up to 4th. One of the ways he plans on improving the long term quality of the club is through “working with the admissions department to bring in top, global football talent to the programme, at home and abroad.” This ambitious plan (which includes a promotional trip to Vancouver) seeks to attract top footballers to the club, thus ensuring its long-term success. This international approach is certainly a new theme in University football but should provide a great opportunity to develop the football team.
Closer to home, Mr. Milne anticipates the building of an additional 3G pitch to cope with the “ever increasing demand for the use of the floodlit, all-weather 3G pitch.” Mr. Milne believes it is the “top-class facilities we are afforded at this university which gives us the tools for success.” What is certain is that the future is bright for the the football club with the lofty ambitions of Milne.