Central Region (553)
Livingston United and East Calder Community FC have recently announced that they have joined together in partnership, with an aim to create a clear pathway to the higher levels of football.
YFS’ Matthew Muir spoke to Livingston United manager Andy Malone and East Calder Community FC Chairman Robbie Brownwright to find out more.
On what this new partnership means for Livingston United, Andy Malone said: “During my successful period as manager at Livingston United Juniors, it was agreed last year by myself and the committee that the way forward for the clubs’ future was to form a partnership with a successful well organised community football club.
“It wasn't just any club we were looking for but a club who have the same aspirations & ambitions as ourselves to progress not only the players we have on board at the moment but for future generations within the community.”
The aim of both clubs is to provide:
* A pathway for youth footballers to progress through our various age groups.
* An exciting, enjoyable & healthy life-long interest in football.
* Youth & experienced players the opportunity to advance their development & improve their skills & knowledge of the game.
* Opportunities for players, coaches committee members, family & friends to be involved in the experience of match days & events at both Livingston United & East Calder.
East Calder Community Chairman, Robbie Brownwright was also optimistic about what the partnership could bring, echoing on how both clubs share the same values.
He explained: “East Calder CFC has in the last five-six years been looking for ways to progress the community club and push on, and this was a logical step in the process.
“Once an opportunity to speak to Livingston United presented itself we quickly realised myself and Andy Malone plus the two committees share the same passion and vision for our clubs.
“Everything slowed down due to Covid-19 but we both had a willingness to continue the talks via video link over lockdown and we are all delighted the partnership has been agreed.”
On how this what the community club are hoping to achieve with Livingston United and how this will help ECCFC in the future, Robbie continued: “East Calder is an extremely fast growing community and there is already signs within our club of how quickly the population is growing.
“Our hopes and visions at the club are to develop every player as best we can and provide every possible opportunity to break through into professional football.
“We are aware however that not every player will be fortunate enough to make it to the professional level so with this partnership we can focus on providing the next best thing and that is a route into semi-professional football.
“There are thousands of talented players from all over the country who unfortunately give up the game when they reach a certain age because there is simply no more opportunities.
“Our aim with the partnership is to simply do our bit to help the local youngsters continue their footballing journeys beyond their teens.”
Both clubs are eager for the return of youth football, with Robbie thanking all associated with the club for their support: “We have worked tirelessly throughout lockdown to keep the club afloat and functioning whilst acknowledging what was happening across the country.
“A huge thanks must go to all our sponsors, coaches and parents for the continued support through maintaining with fees where possible despite no football. This has allowed us to purchase all the necessary equipment needed to meet the new strict COVID guidelines.”
Andy also said: “In the coming weeks we hope football matches are back to continue the enjoyment and excitement that has been missed by everyone involved in football.
“We hope to continue our success and progression from last season and both our clubs are excited to be working towards the coming season and in our future together.”
To follow both clubs and find out more you can go to their Twitter feeds, @EastCalderCFC and @Livingston_utd
Over the summer, Gartcairn FA, in collaboration with the local council, have been putting plans in place to redevelop their facilities ahead of the new season.
This will include a newly laid surface, new dugouts and new stands including a section which will allow disabled supporters to comfortably attend games at MTC Park.
The Cairn’s chairman, Robert McCallum, spoke exclusively to YFS' Luke Walker and elaborated on the plans for the club.
"The redevelopment will give everyone a boost," he said, adding that as a result of renovating the facilities at MTC Park both the mens and womens' teams would be meeting the remits of the SFA and the SWF, respectively, for promotion.
"In regards to youth players, it will help them get used to playing at grounds that can accommodate more spectators, where previously they would only get this kind of experience from cup games," he said.
Also from a recruitment stand point, the developments will help convey to potential new players that the club are serious about their aspirations and could act as a decisive factor for young players deciding where to play.
The hope is that through developing the facilities to a more professional state, it will influence the playing squad to be "professional off the pitch equals professional off the pitch", Robert said.
With the season kicking off in October, both the mens' and womens' teams have made key additions to their playing sides.
Former Scottish top flight players Gary Harkins and Steven Saunders have joined the mens' side, and former St Mirren and Hamilton player, Cara McGurn, has joined the womens' team.
It’s safe to say that, with those signings and the development of the facilities, it will be interesting to see what the future holds for The Cairn.
As this summer arrived, it was time for Fletcher Hendry to wave goodbye to Hutchison Vale
Lothian Thistle. His thirteen years at the club, which he had progressed through the youth ranks at, were coming to a close.
Hutchie Vale has played an important part in the lives of many young footballers in the Lothian area, but especially for Fletcher. His two elder brothers also came through the club’s youth teams, with Taylor moving on to Hibs’ youth team and Regan now a first team player at Raith Rovers.
Reflecting on his first impressions of the club, Fletcher said: “I first joined Hutchie around the age of six or seven, so at first I didn’t realise how big the club was. As I got older and heard about the names that have played for the club it gave me an idea of how big the club was and how I needed to be at my best to stay at the club.”
Darren Fletcher, Kenny Miller and Allan McGregor are just some of the many players to have progressed from the youth teams and make it into the professional game.
“I played under a fair few coaches at the club and every one of them helped me in
my development as a person on and off the pitch,” Fletcher added.
“Hutchie is a big club that wants to succeed, and I felt that the coaches helped every player in doing that.
“I personally want to give a big thanks to LTHV club leader Tam Smith, who is an all-round great guy and I am very grateful for all that he has done to help me during my time at the club.”
Of course, credit must go to the coaches that have been involved in the Vale youth sides over the years and their role is integral in helping the players to develop and push to make it into the senior game.
They are the people spending the time getting to know the kids and help to find out the best way for each individual to progress, whilst ensuring that everyone is enjoying what they do as well as putting in the hard work.
It’s not just about football either, with the Vale coaches also wanting to improve the children’s people skills which they can then take forward into later life.
The coaches are credited with creating a positive atmosphere around the club and a unity and togetherness between the players.
“Every team I was in at Hutchie was always welcoming. Hutchie wouldn’t allow players to have a bad attitude which in my opinion was great for all of us.
“The players always had a great team spirit and helped each other during both matches and training. It was a hard- working environment which made the encouragement even better between the players.”
The hurdle that is the toughest thing for youth players to jump over is the transition from youth football to senior football. The majority of young footballers don’t get that opportunity but looking at the names to come out of the Hutchie academy you can understand that they do a great job of helping their players to take that next big step in their footballing career.
This was the case for Fletcher who was able to progress from the club’s youth ranks to the Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale first team.
He said: “From when I first joined Hutchie as a kid right up to the first team, it was a great time for me. I broke into the under-20s at a young age and I think that experience was a major help in me breaking into the first team at such a young age too.
“The transition from youth football to the first team is difficult with everyone being much older than you and you also must be a lot more physical and fit. However, I always like a challenge and I feel that I did well and have done myself proud.”
As Fletcher closes the page on his time at Hutchie Vale, a new chapter begins for him at
Tynecastle are a side that have seen Darren Fletcher, Craig Gordon and Lee Wallace all feature for them, with the latter coming back to coach them last year.
Fletcher’s new side are one that have a strong past of also producing great talent and at this
current point in time are also a quality team. The Edinburgh side are fresh off the back of being crowned 2019/20 East of Scotland Conference B champions, with the team having an
exceptional season that saw them remain unbeaten in all of the 23 league games they played as well as scoring 125 goals.
Fletcher is looking forward to the challenge and said: “I’m buzzing to see the new challenges
that face me at Tynecastle.
“It’s a great team and has a great coaching staff. Tynecastle has always been a club looking to succeed and get the best out of there players, which I know from my Hutchie days.
“There’s a lot of competition in this year’s squad which I love and is great to see. I’m just looking forward to getting back on the pitch and to be able to showcase my talent and hard work.”
Bo’ness United Community Football Club (BUCFC) have recently challenged youngsters within their ranks to design a football boot as part of an exciting competition inspired by famous football book, Billy’s Boots.
YFS spoke exclusively to BUCFC’s communications officer, Sarah Crawford-Wilkinson, who explained more about the idea.
“We are an SFA Legacy Award Platinum Quality Mark Club so this competition allows us to bring some old-fashioned ideas into the 21st century by asking kids to create their very own Dead-Shot Keen magic boots, but in the design of a Nike Phantom Venom boot.”
The club have confirmed that the winner of the competition will receive a special message from the Nike HQ in America, as well as a copy of the Billy’s Boots book.
Billy’s Boots was a famous footballing comic strip, that was part of the ‘Roy of the Rovers’ series. It told the story of Billy Dane, a schoolboy and aspiring footballer from a poor background, who discovers a pair of old football boots while cleaning out his grandmothers’ loft.
The boots turn out to have belonged to former professional striker, Charles ‘Dead Shot’ Keen and allow Billy to become an excellent footballer, who possesses footballing traits just like ‘Dead Shot’ whenever he wears the boots.
“We want to get our young players to reconnect with their grandparents and hopefully share their love of the Billy’s Boots story book”, said Wilkinson, as she explained the purpose of the competition.
The competition has so far attracted many impressive entries mainly from the younger players of BUCFC with designs coming from players of six-years-old up to eleven-years-old – the competition is open to players of all ages from the club, however.
Super-powers, glow in the dark, night vision and teleportation are only but a few of the inspirations the youngsters have had for their personal designs.
In a time where keeping amused as young person has been difficult, YFS would like to give plaudits to BUCFC for launching this fantastic competition for the younger generations.
The Coronavirus outbreak couldn’t have come at a worse time for Alloa Athletic goalkeeper Neil Parry.
The aptly-named shot-stopper was just returning from injury when the pandemic hit, meaning he missed almost the entirety of the 2019-20 season.
There is one positive he take from this season, though – his work with young goalies at East Kilbride Youth Club (EKYC), where he has coached alongside fellow Alloa teammate, Chris Henry. His experience at high levels has provided aspiring young goalkeepers the best practices and skills to progress.
“Goalkeeping is 90% mentality and 10% ability, in my opinion,” he told YFS’ Euan Wood in an exclusive interview.
“I’ve trained with some goalkeepers who can look world class but when it comes to games they don’t play well.”
“I’d tell them to go out and enjoy playing as a goalkeeper. There is no better feeling than when your contribution has helped the team.
“We all make mistakes, the best do, what you need to do is learn from it when you do and move on, and don’t let it affect you”.
It’s easier said than done though, and Parry knows that all too well. He is currently trying to get ready for next season, after only playing six times last year.
“It's the worst,” he admitted. “I've been fortunate enough to have not had a real serious injury in my career and I probably took my fitness for granted. Having a long spell not training or watching was difficult.”
“In truth you don't feel part of it. You are doing rehab on your own with the physio and [on] a Saturday when the boys get a win, you can't enjoy it as you haven't contributed.”
“It's made me realize though to take care of my body as much as possible and enjoy football as you can only be one injury from retirement.”
Despite being in the government-imposed lockdown, Parry has kept himself prepared for when the new Championship season begins by continuing to train despite current restrictions.
“Everybody can still do the basics for fitness. I’ve enjoyed going out 5ks and timing while trying to beat it.”
“But what we should all be doing is footwork, it’s really important for a goalkeeper to be able to get across their goal. I’m a huge believer in doing loads of fast feet and you only need a few cones and a small space.”
Today, it is common to see young goalkeepers with good feet moving outfield. It is a tough position for any young kid to play – make one mistake, and everyone knows about it.
“Being a goalkeeper is high pressure, if you make a mistake and it leads to a goal you need to be mentally strong,” Parry added. “I don't think outfield players really understand that and I do think coaches need to understand that. Mistakes will happen but as long as you work hard to learn from them that's all a coach can expect.”
“I've made plenty of mistakes and when I was younger. I took it really badly but now I am able to shrug it off. You become a better goalkeeper through experience so it's important players and coaches aren't too hard on goalkeepers who slip up.”
Having an illustrious career in Scottish football, Parry explained what his most memorable moments have been.
“The two that stick out would be getting man of the match against Celtic in the quarter-final of the League Cup, we got beat 2-0 but I played really well and just enjoyed the whole experience.”
“The other would be the quarter-final of the Scottish Cup we played Rangers at Ibrox with Albion Rovers. We were winning with eight minutes to go when Mohsni barged me into the goal. We hung on for a draw and replay but that was our chance and it still hurts to this day that a refereeing decision cost us.”
Hopefully, Neil will be back with Alloa and EKYC soon.
(Photo from Alloa Athletic FC.)
Syngenta Juveniles have appointed a new club chairman, whilst also holding a virtual AGM over Zoom for the first time in their 60 year history.
It was over his laptop screen that experienced coach Michael McQueenie, who is already on the executive committee, found out about his new role.
Speaking to YFS, Michael said: “We have been running without an official chairman for a while now so it's great to now have the full complement of exec members sitting at the top table"
"Myself and long-term club exec member Kevin McGuire have been covering the role for a while now.
“I was approached by the club secretary Nikki Corner after she had received a nomination for me to become chairman.
“To be asked is a real honour. I follow the footsteps of some very strong leaders - none more so than Davie Johnston who, since my appointment, has congratulated me and offered his support which I'm sure will prove invaluable ."
“To be appointed over Zoom was really just a bit bizarre. However, we move on and start to look forward to returning to football once it's deemed safe."
He continued: "We, as a club plan to consolidate and to keep the club safe after this global pandemic however the growth strategy is also something we are closely considering."
In a statement, Syngenta Juveniles said: “The feedback received from the AGM has been positive and the executive committee will continue to work hard on behalf of the club, to progress the club even further as we move into our 60th year and beyond."
To celebrate the landmark occasion, the club have launched a new club badge, which can be read about here. They also plan to launch an anniversary kit.
The Syngenta statement continued: "A huge thanks to everyone affiliated with the club, our volunteer coaches, team assistants and secretaries and to all our players for the pride they show in being a Syngenta player.”
Syngenta Juveniles will wear a new badge on their chest next season, to honour the club’s 60th birthday.
The Grangemouth based side will also celebrate the milestone the club with a special anniversary kit when they return to action.
Michael McQueenie, a member of the executive committee at Syngenta, said: “The new badge is an opportunity for us to modernise the look and feel of the club but also keep the heritage alive. We maintained the lion theme and worked on something that brought us up to the modern day and gave everyone something to be proud of.”
The club was first formed under the corporate name of ICI in the 1960s with the side being set up by four dye factory workers. The team name of ICI remained until the 90s, when the club became Zeneca. The side was renamed once again a decade later in November 2000 and Syngenta Juveniles was born.
Sixty years on and the Grangemouth outfit has made massive strides in the footballing world, with the club facilitating football for boys, girls and children with cerebral palsy. In addition to that, the club recently created a junior side to give their young players a pathway into the adult game.
Syngenta is a shining example of a community organisation, with dedicated volunteers ensuring they have become the longest running football club in Grangemouth. The club were also awarded the SFA Legacy Quality Mark which is given to sides who have put an incredible amount of effort into their development and have set their sights on becoming the best they possibly can.
None of this could have been achieved without the players, coaches and parents involved, who are all immensely proud of the success the club has enjoyed both on and off the field and are excited to see what the future holds.
Michael shares the excitement for the next Syngenta chapter and said: “We’ve got a really bright future as a club. This period has allowed us to reassess how we operate and remind us how we should look out for each other as much as we possibly can.”
The national and regional response to the Coronavirus outbreak has paused the club’s anniversary celebrations – but the milestone is still being marked online, with activity across social media channels, and the grand reveal of the new badge has been well received.
Regular zoom calls have also been held to enable players and staff to come together and catch-up with one another during this testing time.
Michael said: “We wanted to make sure that we looked after our own. We let everyone know we were here to support them and waived fees at a very early stage, as we wanted to alleviate any financial burden this caused.
“We’re also trying to engage as much as we can with the players and coaches and have been getting the children to send in videos of them doing challenges that we’ve set for them to do.”
Looking towards next season, the Grangemouth club have already made summer signings for their new Juniors side.
Undoubtedly, the club’s marquee signing has been David Smith – the former Hearts youngster who has over 200 senior appearances in the SPFL, for clubs such as Falkirk, Dumbarton and Stranraer.
He will be joined by his younger brother Ian, who was also on the books at Hearts as a youth before spells at Dundee and Stranraer.
The Smiths will play alongside fellow ex pros Steven Jackson, Kevin McKinlay, and Michael Wallace.
The Junior’s Director of Football, Steven Allison said: “A lot of work has gone into getting the Juniors team up and running in its first season but now it’s time to raise the bar and with the squad we have there’s no reason why we can’t do well next season”.
Michael added: “It’s important for the juvenile players to know that there’s a pathway through to senior football and we’re working together to make the pathway a success”
With the latest major milestone reached, attention is focused on ensuring a bright future for the current generation of Syngenta players across the club’s many teams.
Coatbridge Rovers have been recognised by the Scottish Parliament in their efforts to help the local community during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fulton MacGregor, the MSP for Coatbridge and Chryston, said in Parliament that Rovers, alongside many other clubs, have: “used their unique reach to connect people and organisations right across the country.
He continued that Parliament notes “their current role in helping deliver frontline services, harness the power of volunteers and offer alternative online educational opportunities and believes the clubs are playing a valuable role during these difficult times”.
Gary Flint, Rovers’ Chairman, was full of praise for everyone involved: “For the club to receive recognition has been great to see and I can’t thank everyone at the club enough for the support they are offering to everyone at this time.”
Like many clubs around the country – such as Cumbernauld Colts and Holytown Colts, who were also mentioned by Mr GacGregor - the North Lanarkshire side acted swiftly to help out their local community following the news of lockdown, which of course meant a blanket postponement of all football activities.
Instead of taking to the pitch, the Rovers have been collecting shopping and prescriptions for the vulnerable, to prevent them from having to leave their homes, as well as donating sleeping bags for the homeless - with 30 donated right at the start of lockdown as well as supporting those in need within their community.
Gary continued: “Over the course of lockdown our aim has been to help everyone connected to the club and make sure they have all been safe and well.
“We then offered our support to the community in Coatbridge by doing daily shopping, picking up prescriptions, to just being available for a chat. It’s been fantastic. The kids have also been checking on the neighbours to make sure everybody is safe and well.”
However, it hasn’t only been those most vulnerable that the Rovers have focused their efforts on to during this time.
With over 130 youngsters on their books, the club have created football challenges, educational work training packs, bingo and quizzes via Zoom in order to try and support them with the changes they are having to adapt with. There has been a hugely positive response, with the mixture of activities allowing the kids to develop mentally and still interact socially with teammates and friends.
Alongside their community efforts, Rovers are also planning an initiative with the aim to help promote health and wellbeing in their local area. They’re doing this with a 500-mile ‘Walk-Run-Cycle’ starting on June 1, with their players, coaches, and parents taking part.
Gary explained: “For the full month of June we are promoting positive health and wellbeing where we have 186 people signed up to complete 500 miles [collectively]. We are asking everyone to compete one mile a day for the ‘Walk-Run-Cycle’. We also have a mental health group on Tuesday nights and are raisings funds to continue to run the club for the community and also we want to support our local foodbank with donations and NHS Lanarkshire.”
To help drum up funds for the ‘Run-Walk-Cycle’, the club have created a Just Giving Page, should people wish to contribute, with half of the proceeds going to Coatbridge Rovers Mental Health Club, a quarter to the Local Foodbank and the final quarter to NHS Lanarkshire.
To donate to their cause, please click here.
Dunbeth FC Yellow vs Central Boys FA U14
The title race is hotting up in the CSFA B League this weekend as the top two face off in a crucial match for both teams.
Central Boys FA have had a season to remember, sitting at the top of the table with a perfect 11 wins from 11 games. That form has seen them take a six point lead at the top ahead of their opponents this weekend, Dunbeth FC Yellow.
The Yellows have also had an impressive season so far and are still very much in the title race, despite the six point gap and the fact that they have played one game more. A win this weekend would prove themselves as genuine contenders whilst simultaneously putting pressure on Central.
It will certainly be interesting to see how this one goes, especially with other teams still looking to muscle in towards top spot.
Lenzie YC vs Stenhousemuir FC Community U15
Stenhousemuir will be hoping to pull of a terrific result by beating league leaders Lenzie at the weekend.
Lenzie have been in fine form all season, and rightfully find themselves at the top of the league with just one loss to their record. They sit five points ahead of their second placed opponents this weekend, having played two games less.
Stenhousemuir have also had a very impressive season and will feel themselves more than capable of taking points off of the league leaders. They will also be keen to avenge their 8-3 defeat to Lenzie back in October.
A defeat for Lenzie would open the door for others, such as Balloch Eastfield and West Park United White, to put pressure on the leaders and utilise their games in hand to full effect.
North Motherwell BC vs Mossend FC U15
Another top two showdown in the CSFA sees North Motherwell and Mossend battle in the D League.
Both of these sides remain undefeated in the league and you feel something has to give if the title has to be decided. Both of these teams have been in tremendous form and deservedly occupy the top two spots.
Mossend hold top spot for now, sitting four points ahead of their opponents having played two games more and if their last encounter is anything to go by, a thrilling 3-3 draw, this has all the making to be a classic.
EKFC Blue vs Wishaw WW U17
Just five points separate the top five in the CSFA U17’s A League, and the top two in the division face off this weekend.
EKFC Blue hold the top spot in the league for now, two points ahead of their opponents this weekend having played three games more. East Kilbride have only lost three games this season however and will be keen to stay at the top.
Wishaw will be encouraged by their progress this season, and find themselves in the title race based on merit. With just two defeats to their name they will be encouraged to take on the league leaders this weekend.
With the league so tight at the top, any game between those involved in the chase has more meaning. Let’s hope these two live up to the occasion and put on a great game.
Cambusnethan Talbot vs Blantyre Victoria U13
These two sit on even footing in the CLYFA A Division as far as points are concerned so a barnstorming match is expected as the top two go head-to-head.
Blantyre hold top spot for now and have a perfect record in the league, securing six wins out of six in the league. Another win here would provide a massive mental boost as they continue their march towards the league title.
Cambusnethan on the other hand will be looking to make up ground. They remain on the even footing in terms of points, but having played one game more they will be looking for a win to take the pressure off of themselves as they seek to steady the ship of their title challenge.
It will certainly be interesting to see who comes out on top in this one.
RH: I joined Hamilton on my ninth birthday
Q: Has anyone else in your family went professional or been professional before you?
RH: My whole family enjoy football and have all played sports but no one has ever went professional with it
Q:When did you realise football was more than just a passion?
R: I always loved football. My grandad has taken me to games for longer than I can remember. It’s always been a passion I guess, there’s nothing I like more than playing football.
Q: How did you get scouted for Hamilton Accies?
RH: I used to play in school competitions with my primary and my friend at the time suggested that I should come along and play for hamilton. A few weeks later I went to training and joined in with the U9's team. I joined on my birthday so my family bought me new football boots and sports stuff, it was really special!
RH: Not at all, I loved it from the first session and couldn’t wait to go back
RH: (If your talking about first team appearance then) I made my first appearance in July 2015 against Glasgow City at Airdrie stadium. It was an unreal experience playing against internationalists at the age of 15. Even though the result didn’t go our way, it was great to get minutes in that kind of environment
RH: Probably going to Alkmaar and Amsterdam with the U17’s team. It was a great experience to play against different clubs in a different climate, it really tested us.
RH: Unfortunately the 23’s league folded. When this happened I knew I would either need to leave or try earn a place in the first team. I wanted to stay at Hamilton more than anything but sadly it wasn’t meant to be and I wish all the girls and coaching staff the best of luck for next season!
RH: I guess I’ve learned not to take anything for granted. I didn’t think I’d be at Hamilton for my whole career but I also didn’t think I’d be leaving as soon as this. I love the club and all the girls so it’s sad that I won’t be able to play with them all again next season as we had a really good bond.
RH: I feel like I’ve had a really good connection with all the girls I’ve played with. Especially over the last few years moving up to play senior football, I feel we’ve all really came together and became close friends. I also had a good relationship with the first team which made it easier going up and training with them.
RH: Probably winning my first individual award this year, that’s my first award for Hamilton. It meant a lot as I knew it could be my last time with all the girls so that topped off a good night.
Q: What are you going on to do now that you have left?
RH: I’ve had interest from a few clubs so I’ll probably go and train with them in January and see where that takes me. I just want to be back playing football as soon as possible.
RH: I loved everything about Hamilton, my team mates and all the coaches. It was such a special club to be apart of for so long and I wish them every success in the future. Hopefully I might even be back one day, you never know where football can take you.