HERIOT-WATT WINS THE DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP!

It seems almost unbelievable to say it, but Heriot-Watt University has won the Lowland and East of Scotland Under-20 Development League.

It had been almost certain before the last round of games on Friday, with the Watt three points ahead of the only other side able to reach 51 points, Cumbernauld Colts, and holding a sizeable advantage on goal difference, but the championship success is now official.

Unfortunately, Watt could not finish on a winning note, losing an away match for only the second time this season as Whitehill Welfare maintained a 2 – 1 half-time advantage. Meanwhile, Cumbernauld came back from a three-goal deficit to beat Bonnyton Thistle 5 – 4 and confine the Watt’s winning margin to goal difference, although that was a comfortable sixteen-goal margin. The Watt side finished with a ‘goals for’ total of 79, twelve higher than the next best record, and a ‘goals against’ tally of 33, which had been the best in the League prior to Friday’s game and in the end was just one goal more than the lowest number of goals conceded by any team.

Recognition must go to the Colts for their very strong finish to the season, winning six of the last seven games and drawing the other. Cumbernauld will surely be an even stronger side next season and although the Development League may be structured differently due to the number of new entrants, the Colts will surely be a strong contender for the championship.

For now, however, heartiest congratulations must go to the Heriot-Watt squad which has brought to Riccarton the championship trophy from a league of very high quality. All five of the teams which finished immediately below the Watt showed excellent form during the season and seemed to be in with a chance of the title at some stage: Cumbernauld Colts, Spartans, Whitehill Welfare, University of Stirling and Edinburgh City – all fine sides, with talented players. The teams which finished below them, although less consistent in results, also showed good play during the season and BSC Glasgow, Bonnyton Thistle, Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale, Edinburgh University, Tynecastle and Mid-Annandale can all take credit for their contributions to an immensely entertaining and stimulating competition. All the teams in the League concentrated on playing good football and those who watched were well rewarded by the standard of entertainment.

Looking back over the season, there were several close matches in which victory was achieved to make it all possible. We think in particular of the 2 – 1 away win against Edinburgh City in October, with goals from Robert Wilson and Mark McGovern; a 1 – 0 victory over Spartans at Ainslie Park in December, where Ronan Dowds was the scorer; a gritty 2 – 1 win away to Cumbernauld Colts in January, the goals coming from Mark McGovern and Cammie Ross; a rather fortunate 4 – 3 result against Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale at Meggetland in March, with the goals supplied by Anton Dowds (2), Jackson Barker and Mark McGovern; a 3 – 2 victory in a frantic contest against University of Stirling at Airthrey Campus in early May, where the goals were scored by Chris Lane, Matthew Law and Cammie Ross; and the nerve-shredding 3 – 1 win at Kilmarnock two weeks ago when Cammie Ross and Mark McGovern (2) brought the Watt back from a half-time deficit to beat Bonnyton Thistle.

There were also some superb clear-cut victories during the season, including those over Tynecastle, Edinburgh University, Edusport Academy and the very capable BSC Glasgow.

The players who secured the title for the Watt were:

Reece Craig – the player with the greatest amount of time on the pitch during the season, Reece defended soundly and was always keen to get forward when he could; strong runner with the ball at his feet.

Jackson Barker – powerhouse in midfield and contributed fifteen goals from that area of the park.

Chris Macher – calm and dependable in midfield, with a good range of passes at his disposal.

Harry Barclay – inspirational captain of the side. Skilful and creative left back who was always ready to get down the wing and deliver dangerous crosses.

Ion Athanassios Diamantopoulos – centre back equally effective at ball-winning and playing the ball out of defence. Legendary commitment to the cause; changed flights home to Greece on two occasions to play in rearranged matches.

Cammie Ross – mercurial striker with the quickest feet around. Scored nineteen goals and contributed to many others.

Justin Hogg – excellent contribution in his first year with the Club. Inventive in wide areas and weighed in with ten goals.

Alexander McMahon – the team’s regular goalkeeper; made a number of important saves to preserve points for the team; five shutouts during the season and let in only one on another six occasions.

Mark McGovern – capable of turning a game with his powerful running and rocket shot. His two goals which gave the Watt victory against Bonnyton Thistle gained the points which secured the title. Top scorer with 25 goals.

Matthew Law – pace and unorthodox running in wide areas gave the side a touch of unpredictability; super strike against University of Stirling was crucial.

Aidan Quinn – dominant in defence and powerful in midfield, his forward surges always inspired his team-mates. Played nineteen times for the Under-20s as well as captaining the First Team. A massive figure for the Watt in every sense.

Cameron Burt – ideal replacement when Liam Hutchison was injured. Tackles well, with good timing and determination and links well out of defence.

Liam Hutchison – automatic choice before his injury in February. Fine reader of the game and passes the ball with great accuracy.

Chris Lane – with the First Team for most of the season, but came in towards the end of the season when the pool was getting thin and made a valuable contribution in midfield.

Robert Wilson – stopped playing in February but did well in midfield during the first half of the season.

Greig Boulstridge – skilful and tricky wide player. Mainly used as a substitute during the season but showed how useful he can be with a fine display against Whitehill in the final match. Unfortunately, won’t be with us in future due to a change of course taking him to the University of Edinburgh.

Ronan Dowds – another who was used mainly from the bench, but still managed to score eight times. One for the future.

Ewan McDuff – capable defender who would have had more opportunities but for the good form of others.

Thomas Rietvelt – made a significant contribution to the midfield area in the early part of the season.

Matt Mills, Gregor MacDonald, Ciaran Fox-Gibb, Blair McGilvray, James Yearn, Elliott Logan and Leonardo Bet were the other Under-20s who appeared at one time or another during the season; Callum Reid, Anton Dowds, Jack Spence, Scott Munro, Niko Giovanovits, James Donaldson, Alex Snoddy and Aubin Balastrier played under the ‘overage player’ rule.