Stirling University’s football community gathered today to pay tribute to the accomplishments of the late Peter Bilsborough. As director of Sports Development, and manager of the School of Sport, he played a vital role in the establishment of Stirling University as one of the leading academic sports institutions in Great Britain.
As chairman he crucially helped develop and expand Stirling University Men’s Football Club from a student pastime to a six team organisation with an elite core of first team players who aimed to compete to a professional standard.
The wider impact of football’s expansion at Stirling can also be seen in the success of the Women’s Football Club, who currently compete in the top tier Scottish Women’s Premier League.
However this tournament was about more than just the club itself. It was a celebration of football at the university.
Stirling University FC marketing and communications officer Daniel Shields described Bilsborough’s impact on football as “going beyond the club, and helping to promote Stirling as a sports university”.
Therefore it was appropriate that the competition was between more than just current club players but also intramural team players, men’s hockey, and a large body of alumni players. The competition was intended as a celebration of the university’s football and sports history for when Bilsborough was first employed 34 years ago.
On a beautiful sunny Saturday afternoon, the whole event was played in a carnival atmosphere with dozens of current students, alumni and their families coming to enjoy the day out. The climax of the tournament was the match between the current Stirling University FC side and a mixed team of former players. In a closely fought game the former players were the first to find the net.
However, he current squad had the best of the action, and nearing the end of the match they led 3-2. This set up one of the most memorable moments of the match when the former players scored an equaliser out of nothing. This set up a mass pitch invasion from the sizable squad of veterans.
The Peter Bilsborough Memorial Cup was eventually awarded to the current squad after a nervy penalty shootout which ended 4-3 in their favour. Hopefully it will be the first of many annual fixtures to celebrate Peter Bilsborough’s enduring legacy at Stirling University.
by Jack Mallon