South West Region (176)
Kris Doolan is heading back to Auchinleck Talbot – the club that got him his big break in Scottish football – but this time, he won’t be lacing up his own boots.
Instead, he’ll be teaching youngsters how to find the back of the net as he launches the Kris Doolan Football Academy, in partnership with the Beechwood Park side.
“Auchinleck Talbot Youth Academy were keen to get involved,” Kris told YFS in an exclusive interview. “
“I think professional players have a lot to offer to youngers players. I thought, how can I use everything I’ve learned in football and all the contacts I have in the game to try and raise the profile of teams and players?”
“We set up so we can help younger players by using good professionals with a lot of experience at the top level of Scottish football because sometimes they need that guidance and there is nothing better than having a professional player take your session and giving you advice.”
Auchinleck Talbot have been the giants of non-league football for decades and have always been known for producing a high calibre of promising players. The club’s academy announced on June 27 that they would be hoping to further players development with a newly established partnership with the Kris’ new academy.
A statement on the club’s academy social media pages said: “We are delighted to announce that ATFC Youth Academy & Kris Doolan Football Academy have entered into a working partnership”.
Kris started his career in non-league football with Kello Rovers, before moving to his hometown team, Auchinleck Talbot. He spent one season there before joining professional club Partick Thistle, where he became the club’s record goal scorer with over 100 goals.
“This is a very exciting partnership for our youth academy, as Kris and his team will offer expert help and support to our youth coaches and youth players,” the club statement concluded.
The Kris Doolan Football Academy offers one-to-one, entire team and specialised positional sessions that are coached by Kris himself and other pros. These sessions are carried out with clubs at grassroots level all the way up to professional level.
The Partick Thistle legend explained to YFS his thoughts behind setting up his own academy.
“What we don’t want to see is players falling out academies at 20 years-old, hating football because they’ve been released by clubs. We would come in and give them guidance and try link them up with clubs.”
Kris, who played for Ayr United and Greenock Morton last season, plans to have his coaching sessions with Talbot up and running (within Government Covid-19 guidelines in place) as soon as the club are given permission by the West of Scotland Football League to train again.
“I grew up in Auchinleck and I was at Talbot for a year before I went to Partick Thistle, so it’s my hometown and I want to help.
“If it means we are overseeing things at the Auchinleck Academy and one player gets into the Talbot first team, that’s a success for us and the coaches at Auchinleck”.
“I’m really excited and so are Talbot because Auchinleck is a very well-established club and we want to progress that even more; I want everyone to be proud of Auchinleck Talbot Youth Academy.”
The step-up from non-league football to senior football is a big point in any young players career and some players can’t adapt to the difference in quality and environment senior football brings.
As someone who has played consistently at both levels Kris shared his advice on how to adapt a young player.
“There’s a big gap from junior to senior football but if you do things in the right manner and you’ve got good habits that gap can be overcome by doing certain things and I want the kids to know this along with the pitfalls at a very young age.”
“I always say the best players are the best learners.”
Beith Juniors have won the ‘Donate A Ticket’ Scottish Cup, after a dramatic final against fellow Scottish Junior side Tranent Juniors. The club won the tie with a total of 969 £5 ticket donations, with both clubs raising a total of £9,170.
YFS’ Matthew Muir spoke to Club Secretary, Chris Irving, who expressed delight at the club’s achievement and at how much money was raised throughout the competition – some of which will help with the sides venture into the new Lowland Development League.
“It was fantastic last night when with just a few minutes to go we were ahead by over 100 tickets and realised we had won it. The tie really went to the wire. In terms of the money raised, it has been absolutely overwhelming and way beyond any expectations we had.”
The ‘Mighty’ faced many clubs on their way to the final, going up against Sauchie, Cambuslang Rangers and Newtongrange Star in the semi-final but the highlight of the cup came when they drew SPFL side Raith Rovers.
Chris said: “Beating Raith Rovers in the quarter-finals was probably the highlight for us given their high profile in Scottish football – they were the highest ranked club in the competition and come with a huge fanbase.”
‘Donate A Ticket’ is a football fundraising platform founded to help football clubs across the UK & Ireland raise money in the form of a match ticket.
Chris explained: “We heard about the campaign after we had seen other clubs posting on social media regarding getting involved. At that point, the concept of the ‘Donate A Ticket’ Scottish Cup hadn’t even come about so we had zero expectations of how much we could raise.
“Initially, we had been posting on social media for supporters to buy tickets for our cancelled games and even when the Scottish Cup campaign was put to us by Ruaridh Kilgour at ‘Donate A Ticket’ we were initially unsure as everyone is going through difficult times and we were uncertain about asking for even more tickets for what was originally to be a weekly competition.”
Chris continued: “Like every club at the moment, times are tough with no real income coming in.
“We have had no games since early March and given the current financial uncertainty that many businesses are facing, asking for sponsorship is also difficult and something we have held back on.
The money coming in will be a massive help to see us through the coming season once and may even help towards future renovation works at Bellsdale Park.
“We have also joined the West of Scotland Football League (WoSFL) and in order to progress beyond that, should we be successful on the pitch, we would install floodlights as we do not have any, therefore unexpected boosts like the ‘Donate A Ticket’ campaign will allow the club to start thinking ahead”.
“We have also brought in a new u20s side which will play in the Lowlands Development League and will be managed by Chris Wilson. We look forward to working with Chris and his team and seeing the boys in action once football resumes.”
Chris also gave us an insight into the business happening at the Ayrshire club as they look forward towards the launch of the 2020/21 season.
“We have managed to complete our new Changing Room facility recently with some hard work from volunteers as well as carrying on with the yearly maintenance of the pitch and the terracing areas. We have also taken part in SFA Webinars in order to start preparing Bellsdale Park for the club’s return.
“In terms of the playing side, we have seen eight players leave, with some club legends amongst them, but manager Bryan Young has brought in eight new players as we enter into what is a new era both on and off the park.
Chris concluded with a message for the fans, thanking them for their ongoing support for the club.
“We have been completely taken aback by the response we have had, even prior to the Scottish Cup campaign.
“Our fans are crucial to us and the ‘all in it together’ mentality we are trying hard to create at the club has really came to the fore over the last few weeks.
“We just want our fans to know that without them we are nothing, and that hopefully together we can have more good times on the pitch going forward into what is a new era for the Club.”
To follow Beith Juniors and find out more about the club, follow their Twitter page @BeithJuniorsFC and to find out more about ‘Donate A Ticket’, go to their website at donateaticket.com
Crosshouse BC vs Bonnyton Thistle U13
In the crowded U13’s League of the West of Scotland Youth Leagues, games to watch are quite difficult to come across. Thankfully, we have a match with proper title ramifications to look at this weekend.
Crosshouse currently sit in second place, just two points off of league leaders Cumnock Juniors. Failure to win this weekend could result in Crosshouse falling further behind as it is expected that Cumnock will beat their opponents Dreghorn Stars this weekend.
Bonnyton Thistle have some room to maneuver, but any dropped points here could prove costly come the end of the season. Thistle sit fourth, nine points behind Juniors with three games in hand over the leaders.
Bonnyton remain undefeated this season, with a 100% record to maintain, while Crosshouse have only lost one game all season at Cumnock Juniors.
Glenburn MW vs Auchinleck Talbot U14
These two have a lot of work to do to catch up with runaway leaders Tass Thistle, so a win this weekend is extremely important to both teams.
Glenburn have the most ground to make up. They currently find themselves nine points adrift of Tass having played the same number of games and with Thistle looking likely to win their game against bottom side Hurlford United, dropped points would surely have a massive impact on their title ambitions.
Auchinleck Talbot occupy second place and also have to make up nine points on the league leaders, but have the benefit of holding two games in hand. Wins in those spare games could put more pressure on Tass, but only if they manage to get the job done this weekend.
There is still plenty of life left in the B League. Keep your eyes peeled.
Crosshouse BC vs KSC Kilwinning Rangers Blue U16
You won’t find many more compelling title races across the country than the race for the WOSYFL Under 16’s League. Just four points separate the top five from each other, and two of those teams face off this weekend.
Crosshouse share top spot with Caledonian and have two games in hand over their rivals. They also remain unbeaten in the league this season, keeping up the pressure on those around them.
Kilwinning Rangers sit three points behind them, also holding two games in hand over Caledonian at the top, having lost just one game in the league to fellow contenders Tass Thistle.
This will be the first time the two have met each other in league competition, making this an extremely hard one to call. The benefit for the neutral is that it has all the ingredients to be one of the ties of the week around the country. This writer is keen to see how it all plays out.
Heston Rovers vs Lochar Thistle U14
Moving further south towards the Dumfries and Galloway leagues, the Bobby Kerr U14’s League is still very much up for grabs. Both teams hold one game in hand over first place and are neck and neck heading into their clash this weekend.
The two have yet to meet in the league, but a win for either would very much keep them in the title fight. Each of them have only lost two games each this season.
It is very rare that you see two teams with the exact same records face each other this late into the season, but that is exactly what we have in store this weekend. It will be interesting to see how the two approach this game.
Galloway Thistle vs Mid Annandale U16
The top two in the league face each other in the Bobby Kerr 16’s League this weekend in what is sure to be an entertaining match between two teams who will surely be motivated for the match.
Galloway Thistle occupy top spot going into the game and hold a three point advantage over their opponents this weekend. Thistle have only lost one game so far this season, a surprisingly convincing defeat at the hands of Annan Athletic.
Mid Annandale have played one game less than Galloway and a win would put them on exactly even footing with their opponents. Like Thistle, they have only lost one game this season, a narrow defeat to Lochar Thistle.
Expect a high quality match between two great sides.
Crosshouse BC took full advantage of their game in hand to close the gap on WOSYFL U13s league leaders Cumnock Juniors. A convincing 8-0 win away to Irvine Meadow AC saw them close the gap to just five points having played 13 games each.
Coylton remain winless at the bottom of the league having suffered a big defeat to a Valspar side pushing towards the top end of the league.
Cumnock Juniors were in cup action this weekend and booked their place in the semi-finals of the Presidents Cup with a 3-1 win over a motivated KSC Kilwinning Rangers side. Auchinleck Talbot, Drongan United and Troon Thistle were able to book their place in semi finals of the Charles Hoggitt Senior Memorial Cup with wins over Caledonian United, Dreghorn Stars and Irvine Meadow respectively.
Dreghorn Moorfield extended their lead at the top of the A League with a convincing 9-1 win over Nith Valley United. KCFC Blasties 1-1 draw with Bellfield Royals meant that Dreghorn were able to move seven points clear. Caledonian YFC were able to make up ground with a 7-2 win over Largs Colts.
In the big game in the B League, Tass Thistle were able to secure a massive win to extend their lead at the top to seven points. The 6-2 win over their nearest rivals Glenburn MW could prove vital in the title race this season.
At the other end of the table Woodwynd Wolves were able to pick up only their second win of the league season with a 2-1 win over Hurlford United.
Glenburn MW closed the gap at the top of the U15s League to five points as they secured a narrow victory over Kilwinning Rangers Whites. League leaders Crosshouse BC could only manage a draw against Galston YFC.
And at the bottom of the table Irvine Meadow secured their first league win of the season as they beat fellow strugglers Dean Thistle 3-0. Thistle are still without a win in the league this season.
Caledonian kept their lead at the top of the U16s league with a 6-0 win over Dean Colts.
Galston YFC’s 8-0 victory over KSC Kilwinning Rangers Whites kept them within three points of the league leaders. Leaders Caledonian have played one game more than their rivals.
Tass Thistle also closed the gap at the top to four points with their emphatic 9-1 win over Townhead United.
Rowallan used the opportunity of their nearest rivals, Glentyan Thistle, not playing to extend their lead at the top of the table to eight points. Their 8-2 win over Hurlford was emphatic and extended the lead having played one game more.
Irvine United’s win over Bonnyton Thistle extended their lead at the top of the U19s League to nine points. United have played two games more than most of their title rivals.
One of those rivals, Valspar FC moved to within nine points of United with a thrilling 4-3 win over KSC Kilwinning Rangers. With two games in hand over the leaders they are still very much in the title race.
The founder of Ayr-based football club Valspar FC, Jim Gourlay, received his well-deserved place on the Queen's honours list this year. Jim now joins the ranks of Scottish Football legends who have also received this accolade such as Ally Mcoist, Gordon Strachan, and Sir Alex Ferguson.
The club was founded in 1976 by Jim who had no prior experience, just a love for the game and a desire to give young men in his own town of Ayr an outlet and purpose.From 1976 to 2019 Valspar teams have travelled to countries as far and wide as Canada, America, Norway, Sweden and many others. In the early 1990s Jim took a team that won the Austria cup having previously won the Scottish cup.
Jim has spent his career as both chairman and president of the club, as well as scouting for teams like Liverpool and Ayr United. During his tenure at Liverpool Football Club, Jim was responsible for the scouting of 1988 FWA Player of the Year Steve Nicol. As well as this, he was involved in the early recruitment of John Barnes and Emile Heskey.
Perhaps his biggest recent achievement was, whilst scouting for Ayr United, he spotted a young left sided player by the name of Andy Robertson, who you may remember lifting the Champions League trophy in June.
Jim Gourlay’s recognition comes well earned, his role within Scottish Football has been pivotal for years and something for everyone with a passion for football to look up to.
(Bonnyton Thistle 2002s, who recently won the Central Ayrshire Youth FA David McNaught Cup)
Bonnyton Thistle FC from Kilmarnock will have a senior team on the field next season, after the club’s application to join the South of Scotland Football League was approved.
The move will also see the Ayrshire club set up an Under 20s team, which will play in the Scottish Lowland League Under 20s Development League, which kicks off in late July.
The club, which has been a regular fixture in Scottish Youth FA Cup finals in recent years, are now officially part of the SFA pyramid system for Scottish football, with the South of Scotland League making up the sixth tier. Promotion from there leads to the Lowland League, which in turn provides the possibility of football in SPFL League Two.
The senior side will be managed by former Kilmarnock player Alan Robertson, who also took the Under 20s side at the club and was in charge of its academy. His assistant will be ex-Killie striker and youth coach Paul Wright.
Current Bonnyton coaches Ian Higgins and Neil Wilson will head up the Under20s side along with Graeme Neil, who joins the club after stints with Annbank Juniors and Ayr United. Higgins and Wilson have not only been involved in the club’s recent cup successes but were pivotal in securing a new 3G facility for the club, in the Townholm area of Kilmarnock, which allows them to fill the league’s contractual obligations for the season ahead.
Teams that have followed a similar path from youth to senior football include Cumbernauld Colts and East Kilbride FC, the latter of whom played Celtic in the Scottish Cup in February this year.