There is documentary evidence that St Andrews Ancient City Athletic played Junior Football as far back as 1893.
They were still playing under this name until at least season 1900/01 and played their matches at Kinness Park in the Howe of Fife Junior League. There is also evidence that St Andrews City were in force from at least 1900 until 1914. Another St Andrews team, St Andrews Violet played for a number of seasons. St Andrews Athletic and St Andrews Merchantiles are also briefly mentioned about this time. There is no trace of any of these teams reappearing after the First World War. However we have recently discovered a picture from 1907/8 season which clearly shows St Andrews United.
A team called St Andrews Comrades were certainly in force during season 1920/21 and played at Links Park. The first mention of St Andrews United had previously been in season 1919/20 when they played at Lade Braes Park and were one of seven teams that played in the East Fife Junior League. In season 1922/23 there is confirmation that they played at Recreation Park (our home today) and competed in the Fife Junior League(East). They finished 7th in a 12 team league with 11 wins from 22 league matches.
The club have had three “purple” patches during their history, the late 1920’s, the early 1960’s and the end 1980’s/early 1990’s. The club won the league championship for three consecutive seasons, 1926/27, 1927/28 and 1928/29, the first club to retain the trophy. This feat has been equalled by four other Fife clubs and no team has won the Fife Junior League on four consecutive occasions. St Andrews United were the first winners of the Fife Cup in season 1927-28. They retained the trophy in the following season. In addition they won the Fife Shield, East Fife Cup and the Martin White Cup during this period.
Without doubt the clubs greatest ever season was 1959-60, when they won the Scottish Junior Cup for the first and only time in their history. They defeated Greenock Juniors 3-1 in the Final at Hampden Park after being 1-0 down at half-time. The team that brought the cup back to St Andrews was: Lister, WP Penman, Hughes, Crookston, Davidson, Wills, Carmichael, Fraser, Smith, W Penman and Borella. Goal scorers were Borella (2) and W Penman, this team was a “one-off” they never played together before or after this match. To complete a triumphant season St Andrews also won the Fife League, Fife Cup and the Rosslyn Cup. The following season the club retained the Fife League. The league was next won in season 1964-65 when they defeated Lochore Welfare 2-1 at home in the last match of the season. This denied Lochore a record breaking fourth consecutive title.
St Andrews United had a lean spell for a number of years and came close to shutting down in 1973. It was only thanks to the efforts of Chairman John Wilson, who enlisted the services of ex-player Brian Cook as team manager, that the club survived.
It was not until Norrie McArthur was appointed team manager at the start of season 1988/89 that the club turned their potential into trophies. In his first season the club won three of the four local cups played for. In season 1989/90 the club won their 30 league matches without losing a game. They went through the season with only 3 defeats in 60 matches and also won the League Cup, Fife Cup, East Coast Windows Cup and the Rosslyn Cup. Norrie was ably assisted by Ernie McGarr and Alan Speirs during this successful period. Since this successful season St Andrews Utd have won three other pieces of silverware.
The first, in 1994/95, where Hill o’Beath were defeated in the Fife & Lothians Cup, then in 2004/05 when the team overcame Hill o’Beath again to lift the Fife Cup after a dramatic penalty shoot out. Finally, their most recent success came in the ‘Kingdom Kegs’ Cowdenbeath Cup 2005/06 defeating Oakley Utd 5-4 in a dramatic final at Moorside Park, Dundonald.
In the season 2008/09 United went unbeaten during the league campaign to win the Central League under the leadership of Jim Hardie and then in 2010/2011 the team, once again with Hardie at the helm recorded a record points total, a record number of clean sheets and a finished with a club record of 6 consecutive league clean sheets in a campaign that led to the Premier League title and brought Super League football to Recreation Park for the first time.
That first season in the Super League culminated in sfety being secured with two games to go, which left the squad to concentrate on the East Of Scotland Cup, victory against Kinnoul at Keirs Park by 2-1. Season 2012/13 was a season of development with relegation not a worry with league reconstruction coming at the end of the season. However relegation came at the end of last season 2013/14 to the Premier League.