When you think of sporting universities, I can’t imagine St Andrews is high up on your list. Stirling, yes, maybe Loughborough, and potentially even Dundee, but not St Andrews. St Andrews is, first and foremost, an academic university. People will tell you that we’re here to work hard and get a good degree – well, at least that’s what they think. It is all in spite of the fact that we have some unbelievably talented young athletes (I can assure you anyone who tells you otherwise have not seen the men play football), and last Wednesday’s football game was a shining example of that talent. Unless you play a sport that partakes in it, you probably won’t be aware that varsity exists outside the realm of rugby.
Last Wednesday saw many of the University’s sports teams going headto-head with their varsity rivals. One of such sports was football, where teams from all across the club took on their varsity counterparts. The men’s teams were up against Dundee University and the second team gave a masterclass in how to win varsity.
Despite missing out on the whole season last year due to a varsity-induced injury, newly elected captain Daniel Cohen led the team to a smashing 5-1 victory against their Dundonian counterparts and managed to escape injury-free.
Although they dominated the first quarter of the game, giving Dundee hardly any chances to break, much of play was done inside Dundee’s own half, so it was surprising when, on their first attempt on goal, Dundee managed to find the back of the net and the Saints found themselves 1-0 down inside the first 20 minutes. The Saints, despite winning a free kick and having multiple attempts on goal, couldn’t find the back of the net. However, Dundee’s early goal was clearly enough to kick St Andrews into gear, and within the next 20 minutes, St Andrews managed to equalise thanks to a fierce strike from Jimmy Thompson.
The remainder of the half followed along the same vein — more dominant play from the Saints with plenty of chances on goal, though unfortunately none of which could be converted to goals, and an unusually busy Dundee support, less unusual were the shouts from the Dundee support that lasted the duration of the first half. As the half was drawing to a close, it was clear the Dundee side were feeling uneasy, their tackles were becoming sloppier and they were allowing the St Andrews side more space than they should have.
An injury for a member of the Dundee side meant play was halted for an unnecessarily long amount of time, but once play restarted he was able to continue without issue. It seemed like Dundee were trying to waste as much time as possible so they could finish the half on a draw they probably knew they were lucky to be getting away with. As the referee blew his whistle, the first half finished with both teams level, even though St Andrews were clearly the stronger of the two sides. The start to the second half was almost indistinguishable from the first.
Not much needed to change for the Saints, it was Dundee who really needed to turn up for the next 45 minutes, something with which they struggled, and the Saints dominated play for the remainder of the half. The only difference between the second half and the first was that the Saints were managing to convert their chances into goals. The Saints’ second goal of the match came only a few minutes into the second half, and the Dundee support began to quiet down. Much like the first half, the majority of play took place in Dundee’s half of the pitch, so it wasn’t long before the Saints managed to put a third past the away side.
Although Dundee looked slightly stronger on the attack than they had in the first half, some superb goalkeeping from Daniel Ross — which included one save where it looked like he could have jumped beyond the crossbar had he needed to — prevented Dundee from putting any more past the St Andrews defence. A few changes for the Saints in the second half brought some fresh legs onto the pitch and an injection of pace along with it, which was exactly what the Saints needed to push them further in front of the visitors. Thanks to some good pressure from the Saints and a major error from the Dundee defense, St Andrews netted another and were 4-1 up, still with over twenty minutes to go before the ninety minutes.
The Dundee fans had firmly shut their mouths by that point, and across the pitch the Saints had drawn quite the crowd. The Saints’ teammates were making up for the drop in decibels on the other side of the pitch. It was obvious that there was no hope of a victory for Dundee. The only thing left was to try and close the gap and make their defeat less embarrassing, but even that was unachievable. Before the ninety minutes were up the Saints managed to put another one past Dundee, stretching their lead to four goals.
A last minute effort from the Saints saw them almost netting a wonder goal, but the ball went wide. By this point the Dundee support had nothing left to say, and neither did their players, and as the referee blew the final whistle, the game finished 5-1. As the Dundee boys sulked back to their bus, the St Andrews boys headed back home in triumph. Even though some members of their team had completed the strenuous cycle from St Andrews to Manchester in aid of Bloodwise UK only the week before preseason began, the boys looked ready to take on the rest of the season. Which, I can only imagine, will bring with it more goals, more wins, and more celebration.