Fielding four teams every week – the Ones, Twos, Threes and Under 21s – it is one of the most popular clubs at the university.
Stuart Grieve, the head of GUFC, believes that the club’s rich history helps to drive the club forward.
“It is obviously quite a long-standing club, formed in 1877,” he said. “We are one of only four clubs, outside of the professional sides, who have membership of the Scottish FA. We are a licensed club, which puts the standards up on and off the pitch. We really take pride in our football club, obviously with the history we have had, and then trying to take that to the future.”
Grieve has been at GUFC for four years, the last two in the role of head coach. He said: “I have an overarching view of the club, in terms of supporting the coaches and coach development within the club, but it is a student-run club. There is a student-run committee and they employ us as coaches.
“Fundraisers and social occasions are managed by the students, which is a great experience for them and good for the CV. They are learning and they get career experience, which they can use towards employment when they are moving on.”
Grieve explained that the students dedicate a lot of their time to the club. He said: “We have two matches and two training sessions every week so it is a big commitment. The football club becomes a big part of the guys’ social experience at university.”
The teams usually play two matches a week, on Wednesday in a British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league, and on Saturday in a junior league.
Grieve, who is also manager of the Ones, said: “The first team plays Saturdays in the Caledonian Amateur League. The University also gets to play in the Scottish FA Cup, which is obviously very prestigious. The Twos and Threes compete within the greater area of Glasgow. The Under-21s play in the West of Scotland league which is a great way of getting the guys into the club as first year students. Then on Wednesdays, we have three teams competing in the BUCS leagues: the Ones, Twos and Threes. It’s going really well.”
He continued: “The big thing about the club this year is that there has been a big change in terms of coaching staff. I am the only remaining coach. There are new coaches for the Twos, Threes and Under-21s and we had a lot of senior players move on last year so we have recruited a lot of new players.”
The Ones have enjoyed a positive start to the season, sitting top in BUCS division 2A, which contains the first teams of Aberdeen, St Andrews, Dundee, Heriot-Watt and the Threes of Stirling. Grieve hopes that his side can extend their early-season winning form. He said: “It was another good performance (speaking about a 5-2 win in the cup at Dundee) and we won our first two BUCS games. We came really close to promotion last year but we just lost out in the last game of the season. This year we really want to try to win that league and get promoted.
“The Twos and Threes are actually in the same BUCS league this year which is quite a unique thing to happen. We actually get an advantage going forward as each team they play, they’ll be able to share their experiences.”
Grieve is not alone in being excited by what his side could achieve this season. He said: “We haven’t taken too many in, there’s only one new player who has come into the squad. The standard of the Ones is by far the best I have had while coaching at the university. We also have a long-standing volunteer at the club who has been there for 30 years, Donnie Ferguson, and he sees it as the best group that has been assembled, in terms of quality and potential.
“Donnie played for us way back in the day and he gives up his time to support the club, both on and off the field. He does so much work behind the scenes and won the SFA Volunteer of the Year award; it’s fantastic support to have.”
A further advantage of being a licensed club is where the club plays its home games. Grieve said: “The Ones play their home games at the Excelsior stadium, which is part of the club licence we have through the SFA. There are certain criteria to meet in order to be a licensed club. One of them is having seating and having an area around the pitch; unfortunately Garscube does not quite meet that criteria.”
The Excelsior stadium in Airdrie, which has a capacity of 10,001 and a state-of-the-art synthetic pitch, has proven to be a hit amongst the students. Grieve said: “We have played the last three years at the Excelsior and we share with Airdrie so we work it out with them who is playing each Saturday. It is fantastic, a great facility. It is great for the guys to play in a senior stadium and the size and quality of the pitch really suits us.”