Crosshouse BC Athletic Under 16s sat atop their respective table at the end of the 2016-17 season with 81 points, that’s six points clear ahead of fellow rivals KSC Rovers (second), and 22 points clear ahead of Hurlford Boys Club (third). This stands as quite the victory for The Hoose, however, it also highlights the high standard of the league when you look at that narrow margin of points, and so what does it take to get to the top of the CAYFA table?
Back in 2014/15 and 2013/14 they finished seventh in the league (in both cases), and with their 2001 boys having placed second last season in the Under 15s league, it would seem as though The Hoose obviously had something up their red and black sleeves as they built up steam going into the 2016/17 season with their 2001s moving up into the Under 16s league; was it a change in mentality, determination, courage or leadership? Managerial tactics and strategy? Hard labour or luck? Jim Moffat, the team’s head coach, explained what geared them towards success.
“Last year was just a great group of boys”, he said, “and good leadership from our captain who was Jamie Montgomery at the time. Being able to get the ball through to my strikers from midfield and always being aware of, obviously, we’ll lose our defenders.” Integrally, he put emphasis on “beat the keeper”, in order to succeed in risking having a poor defence.
He added: “Our top goalscorer last season was a boy called Chaz, Chaz scored 42 goals. I think Aaron McKinnon will take over this season, he was our second striker, he scored 35 goals last year. Aaron will be a name to watch out for, if he has his chances and takes them.”
Usually an integral part of the youth development leagues is to develop players, and then some of those players will leave to go play pro youth. But at the club things seem to have flipped - pro youth seems to come to Crosshouse.
“Well”, he goes on to say, “I’ve not actually lost boys to pro youth, I gained boys from pro youth, they get fed up with pro youth and then they come to us. But this season, I’ve lost my captain, Jamie Montgomery who’s going on to play junior football.”
It’s a testament to the sustainability of the club that they are able to switch in and out players at high succession and still keep and meet the bar high for achievement.
“From when we started 11 asides at ages of 12 or 13 it will have been four seasons now. And this is us just going into our fifth season. Out of the four seasons we’ve won three league titles, one runner up, two league cups, two supplementary cups and two football festivals from Cumbernauld Football Festival and Clyde Bank Football Festival”, said Moffat.
“It’s been tough. It’s been quite competitive”, he went on. “Yeah, the last season there we went through with only losing one goal in one game, we were close to walking through the season undefeated”, reflected Moffat.
Next season they will be up against “more or less” the same clubs and players.
“The teams that are going to be there this year, the Under 17s, they’re more or less the same teams we’ve been playing against. Same size of boys. Same competitive boys. I don't see it being any different, myself, going from 16s to 17s. The boys will be a bit bigger and a bit stronger, you know, but at the end of the day it’s a natural progression. They will be playing against players with a similar fitness level”, said Moffat.
Towards the end of the interview, I asked simply on how he felt going into the 2017/18 season.
“I feel a wee bit this year that it will be a lot tougher. A lot of other clubs have picked up boys, and obviously, I’ve lost three or four boys this year. I’ve lost my striker, Chaz, who was my top
goalscorer last year. I’ve lost my centre back which was Jamie Monty, who was my captain as well, I lost him to junior football, as I said. I lost a really good right mid, Mark Williams, a really fast boy that used to play down the wings. Losing these integral players means it’s going to be even more challenging, this season. Strongest competitors this season, I would say, we need to look out for Largs this year, they’ve picked up two or three boys and they’ve always been a team over the last
two seasons where they’ve maybe been one or two boys short of being a really good competitive team. They won the league cup last season”, said Moffat.
The Hoose will try to hold onto their bragging rights this season when the 2017-18 CAYFA league commences again in August.