May 30 2012 by Donald Morton, Stirling Observer Wednesday
Stirling University 2 Spartans 1
STIRLING University’s footballers can look forward to a place in the Scottish Cup following a trophy-laden season.
Victory in the King Cup Final on Saturday capped Stirling University's most successful season since joining the East of Scotland Leagues in 2008.
The student side won three cups and were crowned Premier Division Champions, earning entry into the second round of the Scottish Cup in the process.
This form was replicated in University competition, winning the Queen's Park Shield - the prize for Scotland's best student side - and reaching the British Universities Cup Final at Selhurst Park.
Club captain Rob Pearson, in his second year of a Sports Studies degree, said: “It's a fantastic achievement. We set out to win the league, but never expected to win almost every available trophy. I feel we won in style and much of that owes to the fact we have lots of players with a good footballing background.
“The set-up at Stirling is brilliant and the coaches encourage us to get the ball down and pass as much as possible, which means we are quite an exciting team to watch.”
Said excitement was apparent as the University scored seven times in their final league match to pip Spartans to the championship on goal difference, the same side they then edged past 2-1 in the King Cup at the weekend with goals from Paul Sludden and Liam Corr..
Pearson, from Chester, spent seven years with the Liverpool FC Academy and three years full-time at Wrexham before moving to Stirling.
“We won the U19s league at Wrexham and I was offered a new deal, but then I heard about the opportunity to come to Stirling,” added the 21-year-old. “The quality of the set-up and the football was obvious when I came up to the trials. I'm really looking forward to the experience of playing in the Scottish Cup and who knows, if we get a kind draw then we could end up playing against an SPL side.”
Football is the fifth and most recent sport to be added to the University's International Sports Scholarship Programme, which enables students to combine study for a degree with high performance sport.
Sports Performance Manager Raleigh Gowrie said: “I would like to congratulate the players and the coaches on their achievements which is credit for the effort and commitment they have shown throughout the season. I always felt we would get to the position where we were winning trophies, but I expected it to take much longer, and the challenge now is to continue to progress.
“The chance to play in a national trophy provides a fantastic opportunity for our young players to showcase their talents and hopefully helps to profile everything we are doing around sport here at Scotland's University for Sporting Excellence.”