With 28 league fixtures alone, the East of Scotland 21s set-up represents one of the more demanding schedules in the youth football calendar. Add a further seven cup competitions into the mix and it soon becomes apparent just how congested the season can become.
Nevertheless, Bonnyrigg Rose Athletic ‘A’ appeared to embrace their time together, delivering a treble for the Midlothian outfit with the league championship, William Johnston Cup and John Murphy Trophy – the latter a particular humbling success for long serving club secretary Ian Richardson.
“My father-in-law ran the team over 30 years ago but when he passed away, the John Murphy Trophy started out in his name,” Richardson said. “We’ve reached semi-finals in the past but never got beyond that stage so it was great to get to the final this year.
“We had Tranent, but they had beaten us 3-1 the previous Wednesday night in the Stuart Brown Cup, but we managed to beat them 5-2 and finally win it after 31 years so this was the one we all wanted.
“The players and the coaches have worked so hard all season and they deserve it. We kept fighting in the league but we would get phone calls from other teams saying they were unable to put a side out so it’s sad when this happens.”
With at least 13 players expected to move on to pastures new, the majority advancing to next season’s junior leagues, Bonnyrigg face a mammoth task in retaining their league crown for a fifth consecutive year.
However, Richardson has revealed that the process of rebuilding a team for next season is already in motion as the club bid to build on their accomplishments.
He said: “Winning it four years in a row is itself a great feat. Two years ago we won it undefeated so it’s a great feeling to get it for a fourth time.
“All the rest of the youth age groups may have three or four divisions but this is a hard, hard league with some very good teams I can assure you.
“We’ve spoken to players for next season and we’ve got four or five coming from the under-19 side so we’ll do enough to mount a challenge. It’s been my life and 45 years with the club is a long time.
“I’ve seen so many players develop where people come along and then they go just like that.”