THE past seven years have seen only two clubs put their names on the Sarah Beaney Cup – Murrayfield Wanderers and Hillhead/Jordanhill. Having beaten Wanderers 46-43 in an epic semi-final, Watsonians now hope to put paid to the other half of the duopoly in today’s final.
The Myreside club know it will not be easy, but they can look back on a season which has already seen massive improvement. They took a while to get used to the Premier League on their first season back after promotion, and failed to get into the top half before the split. But they won all six of their post-split games to finish top of Premier B, and a hard-fought cup win over Edinburgh University as well as that semi-final has set them up nicely for what they hope will be a triumphant conclusion to the campaign.
“We’ve got better over the season,” was coach Dave Flynn’s understated verdict. “A lot of people have said the games we had on the run to the final were a shock, but to be honest not that much to me, because I could see they’d put all the hard work in on a Tuesday, a Thursday and a Sunday from the start of the season and it’s just taken a while to bear fruit. The players have just taken a challenge and run with it.
“We’ve been on a wee bit of a catch-up since the start of the year, but I like to think we’ve got there or thereabouts. We had a slow start to the year with a few losses, and with the league being so small, it splits very early, so were always going to end up in Prem B. Obviously we’ve won that quite comfortably.
“We’ve not played [Hillhead/Jordanhill] this year. We’ll just concentrate on our own game. The guys have raised their game – the better the opposition, the better they play, and Hills will probably be better than what we’ve played so far. So if we can raise it again, we’ll go out and see what happens. Hopefully that’s good enough.”
Although Hills as a club are more accustomed to games at this level than Watsonians, this is something new for the coaching team, who are in their first season with the Glasgow club. It would be some debut campaign for Thomas Davidson and his colleagues if they were to add the cup to the league trophy that is already in the bag, but the coach himself believes the players should get the bulk of the credit.
“None of us [coaches] knew each other before, but we were all on the same wavelength because we allowed the players to have a heavy say on what’s going on,” Davidson said. “From the outset the players wanted to do the double. Obviously we’ve had a really successful league campaign so far, so it’s all building nicely into Saturday’s game.
“The players haven’t done the double since 2013, hadn’t won the league since 2014 – so there’s a lot of them who hadn’t won a league. To do the double is going to be huge for the club, and for a lot of players it might be the last chance they get to do so.
“I think Watsonians will provide a tough physical battle. Their quarter-finals and semi-finals were really tough games – the semi-final against Murrayfield Wanderers was probably the best game of the season so far as a spectacle. So I think it’s going to be a tough encounter.”