Tomorrow's Lowland League visitors to Shielfield are the University of Stirling. Not to be confused with Stirling University who play in the East of Scotland League and were just down the road at Coldstream last week (where they lost 4-0). The university actually has six teams competing in various leagues with the Lowland side managed by Chris Geddes effectively the first team. The first team also play in the British North University League.
Geddes is officially the High Performance Football coach and he also takes charge of the under 20's who are in the Lowland Development League and play on a Friday night allowing him to take both roles. After a peripatetic playing career in his early years and appearances for Scotland between ages 15 and 17 Geddes initially ended up at UOS as a player, non-students being able to play for the Saturday team. He had six seasons as a player scoring over 170 goals. It was here Geddes started getting his coaching badges and coached the fifth and fourth teams. In 2016 he became assistant coach to the under 20's with Shelley Kerr, now Scotland manager, as head coach. When Kerr moved on to her Scotland role in April 2017 on he became head coach and player manager of the team. Geddes rather modestly goes under the Twitter handle @journeyman09
It was Berwick's decision to withdraw our reserve team from the East Of Scotland League in 2008 that allowed the students to enter the league. They won the title in only their second season, also wining the Scottish Universities title and losing to Spartans in the King Cup final. The following season they finished second in the EOS Premier and again lost to Spartans in the King Cup final but had the consolation of winning the Alex Jack Cup beating Lothian Thistle in the final 7-0. They would go on to retain the Alex Jack in 2012 beating Gretna in the final, they would also go on to win the King Cup and the Premier league that season. In 2012/13 they played in the Scottish Cup for the first time and they joined the Lowland League for season 2013/14 making the landmark appointment of Shelley Kerr as head coach.
In the first season of the Lowland League they finished runners-up to their nemesis Spartans. Since then they have finished 6th, 3rd, 4th, 9th and 10th.
The Uni made a belated entrance to this season on Tuesday night at Civil Service Strollers, after last week's scheduled home game was washed out. Strollers who were coming into the game on the back of a good win at Gretna and a decent pre-season held on for a 1-0 win after scoring early.
The report on the CSS website describes the win as hard fought against a fast, direct and energetic Stirling side who would have felt they deserved at least a draw. They were a particular threat from set pieces so the Berwick defence will need to be on their game, it might be a good idea to avoid giving away needless free kicks in dangerous areas.
Vice-captain of the side is Craig Brown who does have a rather famous Grandfather who he just happens to share a name with. The team naturally features a lot of changes each season and it is no different this time with six players arriving from the under 20's and second teams.
It's easy to be dismissive of the fact that we are playing a bunch of students but we underestimate them at our peril. Many of the players will have played together in different teams and will have an understanding of each other and the style of play. This isn't a Sunday League team and they have competed well since we graciously stepped aside to let them into the league.
*may not be the playing Craig Brown