Author: Kevin Judge
The moniker of Sleepy Hollow has often been attributed to McDiarmid Park, home of Perth’s SPL representatives St. Johnstone. The combination of the stadium location being prone to blanketing mist and the lull’s experienced by their lower league split finish for the second consecutive season, fails to stir the real football potential in Perthshire.
Luckily a rude awakening has happened in the fair city, as an attentive and driven David Murphy has coached players and produced teams that have alerted the attentions of Pro Youth outfits and premier Scottish clubs.
The Letham Sky Blues have progressed from an under 10’s side ranked bottom in the Perth and Kinross Youth Football leagues to the lofty heights of Under 14’s league runners up.
Improvements have also continued into cup performances, where the gradual curve from a Scottish cup 2nd round exit at the feet of DUSC, Dundee league champions to lifting the Drummond Cup on May 8th, where a thrilling 2-2 draw against league champions, Jeanfield, was followed by a tense 5-4 penalty shoot out victory.
Calum Parsons (pictured, above right) became a goalkeeping hero with two vital penalty saves during the shootout. He is enjoying his second spell at the Sky Blues, having spent a season with Pro Youth St Johnstone, as David Murphy fondly recollects the club “were delighted that he returned, and did us very proud that day”.
More impressive cup places where obtained throughout a congested season, as the Sky Blues achieved a quarter-final shot against Jeanfield in the David Seaton Cup, and a stage further in the Bill Pennycook League Cup with a semi-final showdown with Breadalbane.
These remarkable results seem almost insignificant when compared to their league form, as the Sky Blues lost just 2 games and drew only one in a 16 match fixture list.
Playing their home games at Kirkhall Road Park; nicknamed The Cage due to its high metal fences paralleling the goal line, it has become a near impenetrable stronghold boasting 7 wins and a solitary defeat.
Away from Kirkhall, they’ve produced a similarly impressive form, winning 6 of their 8 away matches, with a singular draw and defeat completing the fixture list.
However, the solid rearguard shouldn’t be confuse or construe the Sky Blues as a strictly defensive side; evidence of their exciting attacking play is proven by the prolific efforts of the clubs’ joint top goal scorers, Stewart Ingram and George Stedman, chalking up an impressive 27 goals each.
Understandably, observant scouts from Dundee United, Dunfermline and St. Johnstone have shown interest in obtaining the signatures of these flourishing football talents. Deliberations have beset both Aidyn Murphy (pictured, left - about to make contact with the ball) and Kieron Kane from joining the ‘Par’s’ youth set-up, whilst Stuart McDermid will be wearing ‘Tangerine’ next season after agreeing terms with the Tayside Under 15’s team.
Unsurprisingly an array of individual awards was collected by the young players, marking their progress and commitment. The season’s most improved players were David Gannon and Drew McIntosh, while the Parent’s Player of the Year went to Kieron Kane. Both Stewart Ingram and Mark Rimmer were awarded with the Coaches Player of the Year titles, with Aidyn Murphy being honoured by his team-mates as the Players Player of the Year.
Over the past few seasons, many of the players have seen their dreams come true, and for many more their horizons have been widened. Now the creative Coach David Murphy has the dilemma of retaining the sought after players and improving on last years’ numerous glory days.
Whilst being proud of his young sides’ incredible achievements, the visionary is suitably humbled by the desires of his players, as he recalls “we had a great season, even after losing 4 lads to Pro Youth (3 at St Johnstone and 1 to Dunfermline)”. At the end of the season, the tally had increased to five players, but this setback is accepted admirably as his delight is palpable for their individual advancement.
Evidently, the team has blossomed in the correct direction, and also becoming very aware of the realities of football; shouldering the narrow defeats, reacting to an ever changing squad and daring to authenticate their match-day fantasies, accentuating the positive and exuberant side of Perthshire football.