The instalation of a new coach sees KU’s football first XI crowned league champions this season.
After installing former England youth international Andrew Stanford as head coach, Kingston University’s football first XI were crowned league champions this season, and their progress is showing no sign of relenting.
Stanford’s restructuring of the side meant that eight teams became four, all of whom finished in the top three. The extra competition changed the mentality from a kick about into a football club.
And he doesn’t see the sides’ success curbing in the near future.
“There are lot of improvements inside the squad,” he said. “So next year I fancy all the teams to gain promotion.”
Stanford has capped his squad at 65 players, and only 16 are leaving Kingston next year, ensuring a high level of competition at the September trials.
“At next year’s trials we can concentrate on picking up quality rather than quantity,” said Stanford.
President of the football team Jordan Gibbens is also excited about the future of Kingston University Football Club, having seen the team grow over the four years he has been at the club.
“Only once has a team been promoted over the four years that I have been here,” said Gibbens. “After cutting down to four teams from last year’s eight, we have progressed both in training and in matches.”
Kingston’s first team won their league and finished the season on a high, but looking back to the start Gibbens was worried about how the structure would affect the group.
“I was worried that it would become worse socially, but I think it has just made us a lot closer,” he said. “People have been attending training and participating on the social nights out.”
The commitment from the players has been improved by the competition amongst the teammates and the coach is very pleased on how the group has responded to the stricter arrangements.
Last year the team was completely student run. This year the coach is in charge of the team sheets and it has changed the appearance of a few key players.
“When I realised how we could use our captain, Sam Gordon, in defence it changed a lot of the composure in our team,” said Stanford. “I moved Sam down from a centre midfielder position, and he has helped the team get a more compact defence.”
Gordon was one of the key players in the first team set up, scoring freely from set pieces and proving himself to be a colossus in both boxes.
The club are hoping to improve even more over the next season. But president Gibbens is clear on the fact that it won’t come easy.
“We will probably run a fitness session as well as a football session next year,” he said. “Because there have been times that we are very tired after 60 minutes of a match, and we can improve a lot on our physical abilities.”
The football team will find out on Monday if they have won any awards at this year’s KU Student Union Sports Awards.