Scintillating start helps Stables banish past woes

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Languishing around the depths of the Sunday morning league table became something of the norm for Stables FC of the Lothian and Edinburgh Amateur FA.

However, this season has so far borne a complete transformation for the club, with the Dark Blues currently sitting top of the Sunday Morning league with ten wins from as many played – already doubling their tally of victories from last season. With a nine-point gap over second-placed Edinburgh Caledonian, Stables are now in control of their own destiny, a situation even their own group of players and management could not have foreseen.

However, despite his side’s early season dominance, player/assistant manager Anthony Ward is keen to stress a cautious approach will continue to apply within the ranks as he believes the competitiveness between the eight league sides can lead to some eye-catching results on any given occasion.

Ward said: “As much as we have achieved already, they don’t hand out trophies at this stage of the season. We’re not going to go around saying we’ve won the league because every side within this section is very competitive and there’s still plenty of fixtures to be played. But it’s certainly a new position we find ourselves in and one we’re enjoying.”

The final hurdle of last season involved a cup final appearance which was perhaps an indication that the club’s fortunes were finally about to change. They battled through to reach the League Cup final, only to lose 4-0 to Partizan, a side they have comfortably disposed of twice already this year. Ward was, therefore, enthused by the prospect of maintaining a strong nucleus of last season’s squad, with the acquisition of some fresh talent to fuel hopes of finding success.

“Getting to a cup final and beating some good teams on the way, we knew we weren’t far away if we could find some consistency. But we only appeared to want to perform in the cup competitions last year.

“We had a lot of interest with new additions coming along to the first training session so it was great to see that we’d have a bit of competition to choose from.

“We had a plan to better our performances from last season but I don’t think anyone could have predicted we would win all of our opening ten league games. But we are just taking one game at a time and that will continue to be the trend for the rest of the season.” With the club already surpassing the accumulation of nine victories attained over the course of the two previous league championships, Stables’ recent 3-0 win over Polwarth Tavern not only established their supremacy within this particular division, it underlined the strength within the squad, with this particular fixture, according to Ward, reflecting a below-par performance.

“I think the new guys that have come into the side have been brilliant and have settled in really well,” Ward said.

“But I also believe that a lot of the players who were with us last season have raised their game and lifted their performances so we’ve found that right balance. We didn’t play well against Polwarth where the players demonstrated their frustrations at half-time with the score at 0-0. But the attitude has improved enormously where there is a real desire to win each game – it just feels more like a team.”

With manager George Letham hinting at the end of last season that the current campaign will be his last at the helm, Ward was quick to offer a strong appraisal for his boss.

He added: “George has put his heart and soul into the team over the last ten years or so and deserves a lot better than what we have been able to give him in previous years.

“Everyone in the squad has a huge amount of respect for the manager and hopefully we can reward him with some silverware come the end of the season.”