It's just before 7pm on a damp Thursday night at Benburb Juniors in Govan, a wayward Allan McGregor kick out away from Ibrox. Inside the social club, parents wait for children as a youth team training session nears its end. There's a TV in one corner showing the local news, pennants exchanged by visiting Junior teams to Benburb from all across Scotland hang from the walls. One - given by Port Glasgow - reads without a hint of irony: “In Friendship. The Undertakers.”

Gathered around a table is the management team of Lowland League outfit BSC Glasgow.

The bearded, wiry figure of Stephen Swift, the manager, is in discussion with Fraser Wright, his assistant, and Ross McMillan, the captain or 'skip' as everyone seems to call him. A fourth coach, Alex Miller, defers to the senior members around the table, and sits slightly on the periphery of proceedings, while goalkeeping coach Stephen Bryceland, the self-confessed “quiet man” of the group, floats in and out of the lounge.


Swift, who enjoyed an itinerant senior career taking in Cowdenbeath, Stranraer, Queen of the South and Ayr United, is flipping through a session plan in an A4 notepad with diagrams scribbled on to imprinted football pitches.

He's talking about the mechanics of that night's training: arrows are drawn to indicate switches of play, set-pieces are dissected and everyone seems to be called Jamie or Thomas or Ross.

Talk turns to a player with top-flight experience in Scotland who might be available. Swift and his team are unsure whether bringing in a new face might upset the dynamic of the group.

Just then a well-kent face appears. It's the Dumbarton manager Jim Duffy, on the hunt for a coffee. Duffy walks past the table and exchanges “hellos” with Swift. Dumbarton and BSC share halves of New Tinto Park on training nights.

Next to approach the table is BSC's general manager, George Fraser. He is carrying a bagful of yellow bobble hats which have arrived just in time for today's Scottish Cup fourth-round tie against East Kilbride.

And then Swift's thoughts return to the big game itself. He admits there will have to be a couple of difficult conversations with some of his players over selection.

Wright, whose wallpaper on his mobile phone is a picture of him holding the Scottish Cup he won with St Johnstone in 2014, concludes: “The only thing that matters is this game.” The inference is clear: Swift has to pick the team he thinks will win.

Inside the dressing room, Wright is taking red and blue discs from a bag and placing them on a tactical board. There's a general babble of excitement among the players. They can sense there's a big game ahead. Thomas Collins, the club's prolific goalscorer, jokes with the manager that he should be fined for his media appearance on BBC Scotland the previous evening.

“£10 for that voice,” says Collins.

Adam Strachan's mobile phone rings. As if thinking out loud, the former Partick Thistle midfielder sounds every inch the voice of experience as he says “Well, that's a fine.”


The hubbub stops abruptly when Swift begins to address them. This is deadly serious, now. No-one jokes. It's clear Swift has a presence and he and Wright have done their homework. East Kilbride are now lined up in formation red discs on the board behind Wright. Swift and Wright have recently watched EK demolish Cumbernauld Colts 7-0. In spite of a poor start to their season, the BSC manager, thinks today's opponents – champions in two of the last three seasons – are somewhere close to nearing their best again. Swift reiterates his message and then points to a laminated poster on the wall which reads B-E-L-I-E-F. There is an attention to detail that would come as a surprise to anyone who might assume this is 'a diddy league'. There is no mucking about here. This is a club, management team and a group of players that takes itself very seriously.

Standing in the tunnel, George is singing Swift's praises. “He's very diligent. He is destined for bigger things,” he says. “And so are some of the players. We've had interest from bigger clubs. We would never want to stand in their way but we don't want them to leave for nothing either.”

George provides me with a potted history of the club, the youngest in Scotland within the pyramid system. He was here at inception in 2005, when BSC was Broomhill Sports Club, a youth set-up for boys and girls in Glasgow's west end. Back then, he took his own kids. Now, 15 years later, he is part of the fabric of the club. He was club secretary when BSC applied for, and were granted, a licence to play in the Lowland League in 2014.

George points out that the senior club is now a limited company. “We separated them because we didn't want parents thinking they were having to fund the men's set-up,” he explains. “But the aim is still for the youth teams to feed this one eventually. Nevertheless, we've had to recruit to remain competitive. This is a very competitive league.”

BSC have had a nomadic existence since entering the senior ranks. They have shared venues with Maryhill Juniors and Scotstoun. Today they play home games at Alloa's Recreation Park and train at Benburb.

Their club's own Twitter account does a nice line in self-deprecation simultaneously claiming BSC is based in 'Glasgow' and 'sometimes Alloa'.

“We like to poke fun at ourselves,” admits George.

There is no such confusion over the direction BSC want to head in next.

“The next step is a facility somewhere in Glasgow but we've not had much help from the local authorities,” he adds. “Particularly Glasgow Life.”

George allows himself a glimpse into the future – one in which a big-money tie would provide the lump sum required to start seriously thinking about a proper feasibility study into building a home of their own. After some quick maths, he says: “Stranraer could be due about 40% of £800,000 in gate receipts from the game against Rangers. That would be life changing for us, life changing.”


It's a miracle that BSC are still playing in the Scottish Cup this weekend. In the week prior to the round three visit to East Fife, a virus swept through the squad. The bus trip north resembled a scene from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, according to those who were present

Defenders Jamie McCormack and McMillan, who was slumped in his seat with his hoodie pulled around his head for the entire journey, were among the worst affected. But the after-effects lingered with everyone. By all accounts, the toilets at Bayview resembled a Delhi latrine by the time the bug-riddled BSC players had finished with them.

At 3-1 down with a little more than half an hour left, BSC looked to be on their way out against a team that was second in League 1 at the time. But BSC had other ideas, pegging the Fifers back to 3-3 before Thomas Orr scored his second goal of the game in injury time to stun the Methil outfit.

Out on the park, Strachan is putting in a spot of rehab with physio Lynn Glen. The midfielder was the victim of a particularly nasty challenge against Whitehill Welfare during which he broke his tibia and fibula and also dislocated his ankle. It took Lynne's quick thinking to save Strachan's foot, popping it back into place after recognising that the blood supply had been cut off. That was a year ago and Strachan is finally running again.

There are other familiar faces out on the training ground. Martin Grehan, the former Partick Thistle, Stirling and Stranraer striker is here, McCormack too, was at Hearts, Wigan and Stenhousemuir before arriving at BSC. Kenny Moyes, football agent and brother of West Ham manager David, is a club advisor. He uses his contacts across the game to bring in talent and so Dave Mackay (Celtic) and Sam Denholm (St Johnstone) arrived at the start of the season.

In truth, there are players with senior experience all over the pitch.

It still comes as a surprise, though, when there is an intensity to the session that you would associate with teams higher up the ladder.

Yet, Swift is not happy. He says that the first set of drills weren't intense enough; the second were better. He wants to see more of the latter from now on. A place in the fifth round of the Scottish Cup might just depend on it.

In the car park outside, Swift stops for a final chat. “It's going to be a close game. We just have to do our best to get into that fifth round,” he admits, before heading into the drizzle with a bag of footballs draped over his shoulder.