Rothes Juniors Under 16's (1998) and Under 14's (2000) enjoyed ‘The Ultimate Premier League Experience’ last weekend when the two teams booked a trip past the border on Friday and Saturday.
Starting on the Friday the boys travelled down to Manchester from Glenrothes for a tour of the Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City and a former Commonwealth Games arena. The tour included sitting in one of the stands and the dugout, walking out of the tunnel, visiting the press conference room and the dressing room, and a nutritional talk and quiz. The boys also had the chance to purchase items from the club shop. Some of the boys got to sit in the players seats.
The bus didn’t have to travel too far for the next stop on the tour as Old Trafford welcomed the teams for a Museum and Stadium tour of the current Barclays Premier League champions. After enjoying the museum in their own time, one of United’s tour guides showed the players round the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ with different viewpoints of the stadium embedded in visits to the press conference room, the home dressing room, players’ lounge and the Busby Babes memorial. The press conference room provided a surprise that we’ll leave open for any future visitors!
Following the tours of City and United’s stadiums, the boys were booked in for a training session at City’s Youth Academy. A 2 hour-long session saw two City coaches take a team each and provide top-class drills before having a fun game at the end.
After arriving at the hotel for the night, Trans World Soccer put on a quiz to determine who would be ball-boys the next morning and the night ended in a media session with the players enjoying a gruelling press conference experience and filming Sky Sports-like player graphics which will go in to the tour DVD.
Rothes Juniors also had the experience of a Premier League match day when they attended St.James Park for the 12.45pm kick-off between Newcastle United and Liverpool. Entering through the tunnel, Newcastle’s Sylvain Marveaux happened to be standing around and one or two of the boys got a photo with the Frenchman.
Three lucky players from the 1998s and three from the 2000s were also chosen to be ball-boys at the match, which ended 2-2. Yohan Cabaye opened the scoring for the home side before Mapou Yanga Mbiwa was dismissed for a foul inside the box and Steven Gerrard slotted home his 100th Premier League goal. Substitute Paul Dummett volleyed the Toon into the lead again in the second half but Daniel Sturridge headed home a Luis Suarez cross to level proceedings for the second time. Tim Krul and the woodwork denied Liverpool the lead before the full-time whistle was blown and the boys were whisked away to play challenge matches against Newcastle Kickz at 4pm.
Rothes Juniors Chairman Brian Dickson spoke to YFS, Trans World Soccer and Up Next Studios, describing his delight at the trip.
“This has been an exceptionally big trip for us as a club. We’re a relatively young club; 1995 we were established. So this is the first trip of this type for us.
“[It’s a] big investment, a lot of fundraising has been involved. The expectations have been met on all accounts, and some. We didn’t come here to win games or anything; the whole objective was to get memories for all the kids, and I think we’ve got that in spades.”
“It was nice to see the Newcastle game, though it ended 2-2, it would’ve been nice to get a winner out of that. The bottom line was to get them the memories.”
Dickson enjoyed taking a backseat for the trip and praises Trans World Soccer’s services. “We’ve got another six teams at different age groups that we’re looking to bring on this kind of trip in the future. It’s nice to not have to be the organiser for a change, it was really nice to leave Andrew and his team at Trans World Soccer to get on with it and they’ve done a really good job, no hiccups at all.”
When asked for a personal highlight, the chairman said “For me it was the media training session. The kids didn’t have any expectations of that but I think the roars of laughter and the energy that came out of it after a long day was nice. I think the boys thoroughly enjoyed it.”