Goalkeeper Mark Tait says he couldn’t have fulfilled his ambition to become a doctor without the support of Edinburgh University Football Club.
The shot-stopper marked his 300th appearance for the students during a 3-1 victory over Whitehill Welfare last weekend where he was also made captain for the day by manager Dorian Ogunro.
The 26-year-old has been a mainstay at East Peffermill for the last nine years with the club’s 2014 King Cup triumph a personal highlight. However, having graduated later that year, Tait now juggles pulling on a Uni jersey with his medical career at the city’s Royal Infirmary.
“When you play for Edinburgh University, it’s not just the club, you’re playing for an extended family really,” Tait smiled. “The club helped me get through a very challenging degree in medicine and is continuing to help me through my career as a doctor.
“I like to act as a role model for some of the younger boys because I’ve been there and done that. I know some boys are trying to juggle football and exams which can be difficult, but I’m here to help in any way I can.
“The club is extremely special and very close to my heart. If it wasn’t for the football team, I wouldn’t have made the close friends that I do now.
“I’m always looking back at my footballing achievements and memorable times I’ve spent with the boys both on and off the pitch. I probably look back most fondly on the friends I’ve made – I was usher at one of our former player’s wedding. If it wasn’t for the club moments like that would never have happened.”
Tait doesn’t believe Uni have done themselves justice in the Lowland League this season. They could, however, break into the top half should they pick up maximum points from their remaining fixtures against Saturday’s opponents Vale of Leithen and Preston Athletic.
“The overall feeling of our season is one of frustration,” Tait explained. “On our day, we’re able to give any team in the league a right go, but due to the inconsistency that you get with having a younger team we’ve maybe drawn or lost games we could’ve got three points from.
“The league is so bunched together in the middle even just a few wins can boost you right up the table. Dorian does a fantastic job – both he and Dave McMillan are fantastic mentors for the younger boys. He’s been an excellent influence on me and has been very understanding of my situation – obviously with my shift pattern at the hospital I will often miss the occasional training session or match, but he’s still happy to accommodate me around the team. It’s always a challenge each year. You can lose some of your most experienced players and replace them with younger, fresher, less-experienced guys.”