A Brief History Of ZFE

In The Beginning

ZFE came about in October of 1982. Instrumental in setting up the team were Steve Shepherd and Neil Philip, both denizens of the infamous 'C' block of Andrew Melville Hall of Residence, University of St. Andrew's. At a meeting in Steve Shepherd's room one evening in early October, it was resolved to form a team and seek membership of the University's Sunday Football League, an august body which at that time was composed of two division, numbering around 20 teams in total. A working name of ZFE was settled upon at the suggestion of Neil Philip, after an awesomely absymal cult horror film of the time called "Zombie Flesh Eaters". A friendly match against middle of the table 1st Division outfit Hepburn Hall was quickly arranged and under the title of simply "ZFE" the first match was played one afternoon in mid-October. The final score of 4-1 to Hepburn was a moral victory for the fledging ZFE outfit and having lost relatively narrowly to higher graded opposition hopes were high amongst the Zombies for a successful first season. Not all members were happy with the club's title and a compromise of Melville ZFE was settled up, most members being resident in Andrew Melville Hall at that time.

NB For the benefit of anyone from across the Atlantic who maybe be reading this, the 'Z' in ZFE is most definitely pronounced 'Zed', not 'Zee'.

The First Season

Melville ZFE were duly admitted to Division Two of the University's Sunday League, if memory serves correctly the full line-up in the division was Melville ZFE, Atholl Mongols, Hamilton Hearthrobs, Gossamers, Untouchables, Rose Lane, Canmore Saints, Prospective Rebels, Partizan Spartans and Dunvegan Dribblers. A further pre-season friendly against a short-handed Canmore Saints side was surprisingly won 8-7. Saints turned up with only six players so ZFE lent them two players and in turn fielded a number of guests, some with 1st division experience including Dave Glasspoole who netted six of the goals.

The team's initial optimise was quicky quashed once the league season proper started and the pundits pre-season verdict that ZFE would be the whipping boys of the division were quickly proved correct. In the 8 league (the Rose Lane match was cancelled) and one cup games that season, ZFE only managed to avoid conceding double figures 3 times, co-incidentally the same number of goals scored. The much anticipated meeting with Hamilton Hearthrobs, a team of similar stature, ended with ZFE well beaten by 5-0, effectively ending ZFE's chances of avoiding a complete whitewash in the League.

By far the most infamous results were against the two leading teams, Partizan Spartans and Dunvegan Dribblers. Both these outfits were new to the league and could boast players with University 1st XI experience. Dunvegan racked up a record 24 goals for no reply with one player grabbing a personal tally of 11. Spartans went one better with 25 but bizzarely managed to carelessly concede a goal when a clearance out of ZFE's defence landed at the feet of ZFE forward John Kewley. He had been engaged in conversation with the opposition goalkeeper and before the hapless custodian could regain his composure JK nicked the ball into the net. Predictably when the dust settled at the end of the season ZFE propped up the table with a record of played 8 lost 8 scored 3 conceded 111.

The Cup competition provided a brief diversion at the end of season, ZFE drew their old friends Hepburn and this time against full strength opposition were dismissed 15-0. Also appearing in the Cup only that season were 'Sons of ZFE', a scratch team raised by mainly Bejantine (a St.Andrean term for Freshers) friends of ZFE. An epic first round tie was won after extra-time before the Sons were dismissed by a powerful Southgate side from the 1st division.

The season closed with a further friendly against Pife Fark Puckers. The Puckers were a scratch team whose players were associated with the Odd Soc, a strange body of people who revelled in a panache for wearing odd socks. Although ZFE netted twice, they were never in it and the Puckers overcame their sartorial inferiority to win easily 7-2. The match featured a bizarre goal by me, my attempted cross from far out on the right wing got caught by the wind, swirled against the bar, dropped down between the keeper's outstretched arms onto his head, bounced onto the post and back against the keeper's body before nestling in the net. Well maybe it should be credited as a own goal to the goalie!

Summary P W D L F A Pts
League 8 0 0 8 3 111 0
Cup 1 0 0 1 0 15
Friendlies 3 1 0 2 10 19

Birth of The ZFE Society

For reasons which escape me now, the idea of forming a ZFE Society was mooted in the Spring of 1983. This was to be a refuge for all those who enjoyed indulging in sporting pastimes but were far too inept to be allowed anywhere near more talented mortals. The Society was affiliated to the Students' Union in May 1983 and at the Society Fair the following Autumn attracted a healthy membership of just over 60. Prospective members were required to declare their ineptitude in at least one sport. Although the majority of members including football amongst their particular areas of inexpertise, a Society team, imaginatively called ZFE Society, was formed and joined the new Third Division of the Sunday League. The squad included a number of 'Sons' players from the previous season.

Season 2

On returning to St.Andrews for the 1983-84 session, the 1st AGM of the ZFE football team was held in the Dunvegan Hotel. Melville was dropped from the name since most members had now moved to other accomodation. After much debate 'The ZFE Experience', suggested by John Hamilton Taylor, was settled upon as the new name for the team. During the first season, players had turned up for matches pretty much in whatever outfit they deemed suitable for the occassion. Sometimes the Shinty Club spare strip of green and black stripes was borrowed, and for one memorable game a team strip of pyjamas and orange hair was settled on, much to the bemusement of the opposition who proceeded to deal out the customary thrashing. They were further confused by the antics of ZFE midfielder Tim Morten, who halfway through the match appeared to become somewhat bored with proceedings and sat down in the centre circle to read a book of poetry which he just happened to have about his person. Obviously a team of ZFE's stature needed a proper strip and so at the AGM colours of claret and light blue were duly chosen, this being deemed a suitably neutral combination which wouldn't upset anyone. Each member paid around £17.50 to purchase his strip, quite a hefty sum for a student. However, personal ownership of strips made it difficult to integrate new players into the team. We may have been the worst team ever to appear in the league but once the strip arrived we could claim to be the smartest kitted out (see team photo, 187Kb).

Despite the formation of a Third Division, ZFE remained in the second tier of the league and with two relegation places available were justifiably strong pre-season favourites for the drop. Results though were generally much improved and double figure defeats became the exception rather than the norm. In the first league game of the season against Canmore Saints, ZFE took a shock lead which they held until 15 minutes from time before succumbing to two late goals. Even better was to come in the match against Hamilton. In a hard fought match, ZFE battled their way to a 3-2 lead. They were robbed of a deserved victory by blatantly illegal goal, allowed to stand by the referee after the ball had been kicked out of the hands of Jeff Ashby, ZFE's stalwart goalkeeper. However, the final score of 3-3 was still cause for celebration as for the first time ever ZFE avoided defeat in a league game. No further points were gained though and ZFE duly took the wooden spoon for the second time, albeit with a much improved goals tally of 7 for and only 51 against in 7 games. A creditable 4-2 defeat at the hands of The TA Team (as in Temporary Accomodation, not Territorial Army!), ended ZFE's interest in the Cup.

The ZFE Experience and ZFE Society met in a friendly match early in the season, the Society winning by 2-1. The Society team operated autonomously from the parent organisation as the Society's committee were all involved with the ZFE Experience team. By mid-season they became frustrated with the lack of support and took complete control of their affairs. A number of new recruits strengthened the team and a fairly respectable position in Division Three was finally obtained. The following season they re-emerged as the Pitch Invaders and become one of the strongest teams in the Division.

The Society itself proved to be a bit of a non-event and there was a distinct lack of ideas as to what it should be doing (other than quietly going away). Its activities were restricted to organising a 5-a-side football tournament. A couple of Rugby matches and a cricket match were also played, all of which were won - I suspect these were probably organised in the context of ZFE Experience however.

The Finals Season

For most members of The ZFE Experience, 1984-85 was finals years and inevitably the end of the year would signal the demise of the team. By now there some players were almost showing signs of competence, and having been relegated to Division Three there was a glimmer of a possibility of picking up the odd point or two. Also appearing in Division Three were a new ZFE Society team. Despite a distinct lack of enthusiasm the Society had continued on for another year. This time it took an active role in running the Society football team (it did little else though). Society funds were raided to purchase a set of black cotton jerseys for the team.

Naturally both teams were still pointless when they met to decide the destination of that year's wooden spoon. The ZFE Experience were undoubtedly the more talented side (or should that be the less untalented?) and with the added advantage of an extra man (10 men v. 9) recorded their first and last competitive victory with a 3-2 win, slightly luckily as a third Society goal was chalked ruled out for off-side. Another two points were added for a walkover when Russell Rejects could only raise 2 players, and ZFE Experience finished their final season with an unprecedented haul of 4 points. 'Only' 25 goals were conceded, although just 5 were scored, two fewer than in the previous campaign. Progress in the cup was again halted at the first hurdle, this time at the hands of Dunvegan Dribblers, by then a leading 1st Division team. There was no repeat of the 24-0 drubbing of a couple of years before, the margin of defeat this time was a more respectable 11-0, matching the individual goals tally of a singler Dribbler in the teams' previous encounter.

The new Society team proved much less adept than the previous year's edition, although not quite as ineffective as Melville ZFE had been. The most serious defeat was a mere 14-0 against The Pitch Invaders, a match notable for the length of time the opposition goalkeeper spent in the Society's penalty area who eventually did achieve his aim of beating his opposite number.

After graduating the team went their seperate ways and The ZFE Experience came to an end. Reunions have been mooted a number of times but have never got off the ground. There was rumours of mini-meeting of around half a dozen members at Wimbledon's old Plough Lane ground a number of years ago.

Although the ZFE Society itself came to an end in 1985, the football team continued for at least another year under the inspired title of The Black Puddings.

World's Worst Team Ever?

Certainly ZFE's record in their first ever season must feature in the list of worst performances of all time. In fact until recently I'd never heard of any team which could equal ZFE's goals against ratio. However there is a pub team in Scunthorpe which after 7 games in the 1998-99 season (all lost of course, the last by 31-0) had conceded 107 goals and scored just 2. So maybe ZFE weren't so bad after all. Current claimants to the worst team in St.Andrew's University Sunday League are Real Ale Sociedad. They appear to stand a good chance of achieving a whitewash, but they'll have to cut down on goal scoring if they want to seriously rival ZFE's record.

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About this document

Prepared and maintained by James M. Ross
with additonal contributions from John Kewley

Author: James M. Ross

Last updated: 9 Dec 1998

Copyright © 1998 James M. Ross
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