Spartans aim to end Edinburgh University dreams

Dougie Samuel takes his Spartans side to Peffermill
Dougie Samuel takes his Spartans side to Peffermill
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Dougie Samuel cuts a familiar figure around the corridors of Peffermill Sports Complex, the home of Edinburgh University AFC.

The current Spartans head coach was the inspiration behind the students’ memorable Scottish Cup run in 2006 as he guided them to the second round, where they ultimately lost 5-1 to Cowdenbeath, then of the SFL Second 
Division, at Central Park.

Tomorrow, Samuel returns to Peffermill with his Spartans side intent on halting the University’s latest Scottish Cup dream at the first-round stage.

Since leaving the Students in June 2012 to take over the reins at Ainslie Park, Samuel has already been back with Spartans on both league and cup duty last term.

However, with so much at stake, tomorrow’s encounter represents an entirely different proposition.

Recalling the moments he helped thrust the footballers of Edinburgh University into the limelight, Samuel said: “We had a fantastic group of players at the club that year and what I remember about that particular side is it had goals in it.

“I had the best three forwards I ever coached at Edinburgh University – we had (Andy) Howat, (Michael) Hazeldine and George Nikolaidis, who were simply fantastic.

“It was a real sense of occasion and they even held the draw for the Scottish Cup up at the Pleasance, so the players had the chance to ride that publicity for a couple of weeks.

“They loved it and when it came to the Cowdenbeath game, they didn’t let themselves down.”

Spartans, of course, have a proud record in the Scottish Cup, having proving a hard nut to crack for several Scottish League sides.

Their most notable achievement came in 2006 when they held St Mirren, then leaders of the First Division, to a 0-0 draw at City Park in the fourth round before eventually losing in the replay at Love Street.

Samuel, who has several key players unavailable for tomorrow’s tie, was quick to compliment his predecessor for the success he achieved as manager.

“I think Mickey (Lawson) and Sam’s (Lynch) record in the Scottish Cup in the last decade is simply sensational,” he said. “But since the football club moved into its new home at the academy, we’ve not been as successful as we would have liked. We’re desperate to create some new memories and if we can, go on a good Scottish Cup run this year. But we know tomorrow is a really tough start for lots of different reasons.”

Edinburgh University manager Dorian Ogunro, a player Samuel took under his wing during his nine-year tenure with the club and also with the Scottish Universities side, is desperate to put one over his former mentor as the East of Scotland Premier Division look to claim a notable scalp and embark on another cup adventure.

“We’re looking forward to it,” Ogunro said. “We’ve got a lot of young players who have never experienced anything like this before. I’ve known Dougie since he first came to the club as I played under him for the Uni and also the Scottish Universities side. The younger guys know he has been successful here but that doesn’t really mean much to them.

“There are also a few guys from the Spartans side who used to play for the Uni so that should make it a bit more interesting as well. It will be a fantastic occasion and if we get through, then great, but the league is our bread and butter.

“For me, as long as the guys give their all, then I’ll be happy. They’ve got a very good team and I’ve had them watched a lot so we know what to expect. We must be at our best to have a chance.”