NEIL McGLADE reviews the first half of the local amateur season
THE AMATEUR football scene is in the midst of a well-earned festive break after a thrilling four months of season 2012/2013.
The Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur FA (LEAFA) has certainly served up a treat with some terrific encounters across all ten divisions.
Saturday Premier Division 1 outfit Edinburgh South Vics currently sit third top, but with the advantage of having four games in hand over current league leaders and champions Sandys, the Saughton-based side are sure to be league championship contenders come May.
With the club still in the running in both domestic and national cup competitions, Vics secretary John Love is optimistic heading into the new year.
Love said: “We are disappointed to have dropped so many points in the league to be honest. We’re looking to equal last year’s performance, if not better it after finishing runners-up. Our fitness has been a lot better this year as we’ve been going to a spinning class once a month at Boroughmuir Rugby Club, so that has really helped.
“We’re looking to win silverware but we’d love to win the league and if we play to our potential then I think we are capable of beating most teams. But the level of competition this year is extremely tight and there isn’t a lot between the sides. We have to make sure we return in the new year ready to go where we left off.”
Edinburgh Rose, also of Premier Division 1, deserve enormous credit for their performances in their first season in the top tier after promotion from Premier Division 2 in the summer. With five league victories from six played, the Duddingston-based side will hope to continue their good run of form when the fixtures get underway again on January 12.
Premier Division 2 and Lothian West, currently led by Fernieside and Whitburn Bluebell respectively, have seen some intriguing encounters with both divisions shaping up to be close contests in the race for the titles.
Premier Division 1’s Musselburgh Amateurs, who enjoyed a marvellous venture in last season’s Scottish Amateur Cup, reaching the quarter-finals stage, are still involved in the competition at the fourth round where they await the winners of Symington Tinto AFC and Cumbernauld Athletic.
In Sunday Premier Division 1, Bilston United have underlined their supremacy, opening a 17-point gap over nearest challengers The Standard at the top.
Fountainbridge have also stormed to the summit of the Sunday Morning League in convincing fashion, yet to drop any points this season and recording some impressive results in the process. The disappointment of finishing third last year was eased by victory in the division’s League Cup final. However, captain and central midfielder Paul Robertson stresses the league title is the pinnacle of any football season.
Robertson said: “We spoke about winning the league in pre-season and that was our main aim. Now that we are at the top we want to stay there but also try and retain the League Cup as it would be great to do the double.
“I think the main difference this season is we have guys who are turning up. In amateur football when things aren’t going your way, you are often struggling for numbers. I think we’ve got good ability in the side and we try to play football. Manager John Gray has really brought the side on and he’s been through a lot with the club.”
Both Sunday Premier Divsion 2 and Division 1 are shaping up nicely heading into 2013, the smallest of margins separating a number of clubs where there is little room for error.
The Edinburgh and Districts Sunday Amateur Fair Play League has also delivered in the way of entertainment value. Redhall Star and Edinburgh Thistle lead the way at the top of the Premier and First Divisions respectively. However, with a host of other sides involved in the chasing-pack, there are sure to be a few twists and turns along the way.