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South West Region (171)

Rory McKenzie is only 21, and is already showing his class at the top level of Scottish football, and like many professionals in the top tier of the SPFL, McKenzie’s first experiences of the game were at youth level.

McKenzie’s career at youth football was hugely important to his development, playing against youth teams from Celtic and Rangers boys that McKenzie told Youth Football Scotland 'were always thought of as head and shoulders above everyone else'.

Joining Kilmarnock at under-13 level, McKenzie started his career in football out in Ayrshire, playing firstly for Caledonia FC before joining up with Troon Thistle, where he played alongside names such as ex-Stoke and Rangers midfielder Jamie Ness. 

Following on from his career at youth level, it has been three years since Kilmarnock FC’s McKenzie burst onto the mainstream Scottish football scene. While on loan at League One Brechin City the then 18-year-old scored seven goals in 17 appearances for the Angus-based club. 

That spell on loan was followed by a break through into the Kilmarnock first team squad, with McKenzie getting the oft elusive first team football at a young age. 

"It was massive," McKenzie said. "At the time I didn’t expect to break through that young. The biggest thing was going out on loan…that was a turning point for me I think."

Now McKenzie is a first-team regular at Kilmarnock, and is relishing the chance to join up with Kris Boyd after the ex-Rangers striker signed for Kilmarnock for the second time in two years. "He was massive, not just for my development but for the team in general," McKenzie said. "last time he was here he scored 22, 23 goals, so for the team he was really important. For me as well he is great to play alongside. He makes myself look good, if I put the ball in the box for him he’ll score goals.” It’s no surprise then that McKenzie is looking forward to the forthcoming season.

Despite a quick detour to the world of golf, McKenzie knew that football was always going to be his main focus. 

"[Golf was] perfect me playing golf outside of football, if I’d took golf too serious it would get to me too much. At the time I’d have liked to have gone and studied and played golf in America at the same time, but I don’t think I was ever good enough to turn professional," he said.

Thursday, 23 July 2015 16:00

Young community a focus for Killie

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Young supporters hold the key to the future of football in our country, and that is no different with Kilmarnock FC.

Killie are a massive influence towards children in their local area, having numerous community football schemes in order to keep young fans connected with the club.

Youth Football Scotland spoke to Youth and Community Education Officer at Kilmarnock FC, Brian Sproul, about the opportunities out there for kids in the area.

"We are very active in the community through schools, we work with the council, we also have summer programmes, which are generally well attended," said Sproul.

"The kids come in from 12-3.30 for older age groups. From one until two we have the Mini Kickers sessions. All you need to do is sign up, come along and its ten pounds for the three and a half hours, the coaches look over them and it is a very relaxed few hours.

"The website give details about how to sign up, as well as on Twitter and Facebook. It’s easy to come into the club and see what it’s all about, and the kids can just turn up on the day and take part."

Killie have received a helping hand in organising all of this, and Sproul felt that the benefits from this support is hugely important.

"The Scottish FA are very supportive of everything that we do at the club, we benefit greatly on the pro youth side, as many of our kids are in the performance schools, which have been very successful so far," Sproul said. 

The fans are offered a unique ‘Play on the Pitch’ programme, where they can emulate their favourite Kilmarnock stars and grace the turf of Rugby Park.

"I personally think it is massive that the community can see and then come in and play on the pitch, for young kids to come in on a daily basis and say ‘I played and scored goals into the big net’, it is a massive boost for them," he said.

"Also for our pro youth teams to come and play here, as well as visiting teams, who praise the pitch, it is a big positive for everybody."

The idea began in February, when Killie set up a number of community teams. It now features 200 budding young footballers from the area.

There is a massive emphasis on building relationships between the club and its fans. Sproul touched on this: “It allows the club to have an affinity with the kids. That affinity grows as they get older, they spread the word, basically making them club ambassadors.” he said.

“We are hoping it stops them from going up the motorway to the other clubs in the Glasgow area. It gives up hope to produce local players for the club, and on top of that, supporters for the future.”

Other clubs can certainly learn lessons from this community scheme, and allow the supporters of tomorrow to live a unique experience today.

Saturday, 18 July 2015 16:21

KSC Town look to build on trophy-laden season

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After an unforgettable 2014-15 season KSC are embracing the new challenges awaiting them in the campaigns to come. The Kilwinning club move up to under 19 level as CAYFA under 17 league champions, having also added the CAYFA League Cup and CYP Regional Cup to their trophy haul.

Manager John Murphy looked back on the season with huge pride, highlighting team spirit and effort as key factors in their success.

"It was a very enjoyable and remarkable season for me as manager of this great bunch of lads. The treble was an amazing achievement and I have no individuals to single out. We have played together as a team, from goalkeeper all the way through to the forwards, and also had a good bench when a change was needed in a game," he told Youth Football Scotland.

"The team have learned to work hard for each other on the park and put the effort in at training, and to enjoy each match as if it was their last."

KSC ran out convincing league winners with a few games to spare, but Murphy points to their only league defeat against their closest rivals as the real wakeup call which drove his side on.

"We lost on March 22nd against Troon Thistle and we had an off day. We had to remind the players that hard work and determination is required in every game. There was still a lot of football to be played and no trophies had been won. We can’t ever take it for granted," Murphy said.

Having lost to Troon Thistle that day, KSC went on to duly turn the tables on their rivals, defeating them in the CAYFA league cup final a month later. It was the springboard to league and further cup success, as they went on to beat Tass Saltire in the CYP Cup to clinch the treble.

KSC also reached the quarter final of the Scottish Cup, and Murphy can reflect on a season where the club was recognised at a national level, with several players going on to represent their country and enjoy success.

 "Two of our boys were picked for the SYFA Scotland team to play Australia and seven were selected for the CYP Scotland team. Our captain Alan Murphy also led the national team to success in the recent tri nations tournament in Wales," Murphy said.

The club now begin their pre-season build up with great optimism on the back of last season, as the team moves up from under 17s to a new league at under 19s. Murphy looks forward to an exciting future as the hard work gets underway. He said: “Stepping up to Under 19s level will bring its own challenges and hopefully a respectable league finish awaits us next year. Our ambition is to keep developing the players and win more trophies along the way.”

“Hopefully the players will play at a level they enjoy and go on to enjoy the game at professional, junior or amateur level one day.”

Statement provided by Kilmarnock FC

Alan Robertson today confirmed his latest additions to the youth squad for the upcoming season. A total of seven players have signed with the Club progressing from Paul MacDonald's Academy. Six players signed full time youth contracts with one player (Sibbald) signing an amateur contract. Another player is expected to sign next week to finalise the group.   

After featuring in the development squad on a number of occasions last season, promising midfielders Frizzell and Wilson have both once again committed their futures to the Club. 

Joining them is Lewis Morrison who is a talented young striker with a good eye for a goal. 

Defenders Clark and Queen also make the step up from under-17s after working hard last season and finally attacking player and their under 17 teammate, Andrew Sibbald, completes the group. 

Lewis Morrison – Striker

Robbie Hogg - Forward

Iain Wilson - Midfield

Adam Frizzell- Midfield

Taylor Queen – Defender

Lewis Clark – Defender

Andrew Sibbald – Forward 

The Development squad’s first pre-season friendly will take place on Saturday 11 July, when the team are away to St Cuthberts Wanderers, kick-off 2pm. 

Former Dean Thistle and Bonnyton Thistle midfielder Sam McCloskey has signed his first professional contract with Stranraer.

The 20-year-old signed amateur forms for Stranraer last season, and spent the season on loan at Kilbirnie Ladeside, but will step up to the first-team squad next season. 

McCloskey spent five years playing for Dean Thistle, before moving on to pro-youth football at St Mirren, and then Celtic. He returned to boys club football with Bellfield Royals before being part of Bonnyton's successful 2012-13 campaign.

"When I came into the club I knew of Sam but wanted to see him for myself in pre-season training before making any decision but he has earned his contract, showning a tremendous attitude and determination to secure a deal with the club and I have no doubt that he will show the willingness and effort to push on in the game," manager Brian Reid said in a statement.

McCloskey was named as man of the match in the 2013 SYFA Cup final, scoring two goals for Bonnyton in a 4-0 victory. That was for the under-19s, on just his 17th birthday. 

His talent was spotted by Stranraer and McCloskey will be looking forward to adding to his two substitute appearances for the SPFL League One club next season.

Bonnyton Thistle has previously produced ex-Stranraer players Neil McGowan and John Robertson.  

In a dream debut season for the 2002s at 11 a side level, Bonnyton Thistle swept to the Central Ayrshire YFA league title, netting an incredible 115 goals. They also won a cup at the Easter Rozelle tournament in Preston.

Manager Kenny Henderson says building a winning mentality was central to his side’s league title triumph this season.

"The team has performed well over the duration of the season. It takes great consistency to be able to win the league, and I wouldn’t want to single out any player. Everyone played their part in a tremendous season," Henderson told Youth Football Scotland.

Bonnyton finally saw off a league challenge from Tass Thistle in the last few games, and Henderson feels the February showdown between the clubs was decisive.

"We played them at home with 8 games to go. They were 8 points clear as we had some games in hand. For me it was a must win victory. We duly turned up and won the game 4-0, laying the foundation for a tremendous run in," he said.

Henderson believes the whole experience this has stood both himself and the club in good stead moving forward, adding: "I have learned to expect the unexpected managing a boys club this season, but the ambition is to keep developing the players and hopefully retain the league title, with a run in the Scottish cup next season."

Congratulations to Bonnyton Thistle under-13s, 2014-15 Central Ayrshire YFA league champions!

Video interview courtesy of Ryan Rowe.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015 12:33

Hamilton Accies crowned League Cup champs

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Fixture: Hamilton Accies WFC v Kilwinning SC 13's Girls
Competition: SWF South West Region League Cup - Final
Venue: Hamilton Palace
Date: 20/6/15
 
On Saturday Hamilton Palace Sports Ground hosted this years South West Region 13''s Girls League Cup Final between Hamilton Accies and Kilwinning SC. Sixteen teams began their cup journey in March, but only these two sides from the Kim Little division remained in contention for the first South West silverware of the season. 
 
The first half was a close fought game with both teams defending well and the Kilwinning goalkeeper in fine form. It took until just before half time for the deadlock to be broken with Hayley MacMillan scoring with a low drive past the keeper. 
 
Shortly after the break Hamilton managed to grab a second with Abbey Skelton scoring with a fine finish just inside the post.
 
Both teams fought hard in a very entertaining game, but as legs tired Hamilton finished stronger with a couple of late goals. This saw MacMillan get her hatrick. The game ended 4-0 to Hamilton Accies but Kilwinning showed great spirit and fought hard right up until the final whistle.
 
Full Time: Hamilton Accies 4-0 Kilwinning SC 13's Girls
 
 
 
Monday, 13 April 2015 15:19

Glenburn come out on top in game of two halves

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Fixture: Nithsdale Wanderers YFC v Glenburn MW
Competition: U15's WOSYF "B" League
Date: 11/04/15
 
In sunny conditions, Nithsdale came out the blocks sharp and were the better team for the first 30 minutes missing numerous chances against the table toppers, but Glenburn opened the scoring in the 33rd min against the run of play through a composed finish from Jake Griffin.
 
In a frantic 6 minute spell, Nithsdale equalised then went in front from their main striker netting twice, then on the stroke of half time a corner flights into the Nithsdale area for captain Daniel McGiffen to bullet home a header to tie the match.
 
Half Time : Nithsdale Wanderers YFC 2-2 Glenburn MW
 
It was the proverbial game of 2 halves as Glenburn showed why they are top of the league going ahead through a quick turn and finish from Blair NcMeechan then a piece of individual brilliance from Dylan Howarth to put the miners up 4-2 to settle some nerves.
 
Nithsdale got another goal from there midfielder to narrow matters but a bullet near post header from Marc Green and a curling shot into the top corner from Blair McMeechan settled the matter and gave Glenburn the 3 points.
 
Full Time : Nithsdale Wanderers YFC 3-6 Glenburn MW
 
 
 
 

 
Fixture: Greystone Rovers vs Terregles FC U17s
Competition: Ryedale Cup - Final
Venue: David Keswick Centre, Dumfries
Date: 03/04/15
 
A decent crowd turned out at the David Keswick centre in Dumfries for what promised to be a closely fought game between two evenly matched sides. Before tonight's game both teams were unbeaten all season, with their league clash ending in a draw, but there had to be a winner tonight.
 
The match started at a ferocious pace with both teams really up for the occasion. Greystone had the best of the early chances, going close a few times. The best of their chances came from an indirect free-kick for a pass back inside the box, which Terregles managed to scramble clear of the goal.
 
As half time approached both teams were effectively cancelling each other out in the middle of the park.
 
Half Time: Greystone Rovers 0-0 Terregles FC
 
Not long into the second half and Greystone had a great chance to open the scoring. The ball broke to Liam Watson inside the Terregles half and he drove into the box, only to have his strike pushed over the bar from a fantastic save by Calvin Cunningham.
 
This seemed to spur Terregles into action and as they pushed up the park the ball found Ross Young on the left hand side of the box, he jinked through the Greystone defence and slotted home with his right foot - Terregles were a goal to the good.
 
The blues now had their tails up and their pressure paid off with a corner kick on the left. Euan Francis knocked the corner towards the back post where Tommy Goss rose to meet it, and head in Terregles' second.
 
Terregles held on to their 2-0 lead to lift the cup at the end of the game.
 
This was an excellent advert for youth football in the region, and with both teams still neck and neck in the league, and still in the Palmerston Cup, there promises to be some great games ahead.
 
Full Time: Greystone Rovers 0-2 Terregles FC
 
 
 
 
Wednesday, 01 April 2015 14:21

Tait leaving Caledonian YC in good stead

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Soon to move on from his 6 month posting as McDonald’s Club Coach Officer at Caledonian Youth FC, Tommy Tait is delighted at what he has been able to achieve in the role:
 
“Ultimately my role is to help ensure young players in the South West get the best possible coaching and most importantly enjoy their participation in the game.”
 
“It’s all about providing reassurance and mentoring existing coaches at all levels, giving feedback and advice, but it is very much a two way street and about sharing ideas going forward. “
 
“In my 6 months it has been great to see all the coaches embracing all of this. At Caledonian they have taken a lot from our PCS workshops, and laying down an ethos for the club going forward.”
 
“The SFA have also been very supportive, providing coach briefing days at Toryglen, and David Sheldon and Craig Hamilton at SFA South West have always been on hand for advice.”
 
SFA South West Football Development Officer David Sheldon says the Club Coach Officers have a valuable role to play in the development of the grassroots game:
 
“Tommy and all the CCOs have been really enjoyable to work with. They have been very enthusiastic to develop the game and do their part for the education and improvement of coaches and players within the clubs they are working with.”
 
“The coaches have really bought into what the CCOs are doing in terms of the importance of coach preparation, club ethos and creating a better environment for the players”
 
Looking to the future Tait believes he is leaving Caledonian in good stead:
 
“In my time there I have worked closely with the Club Coach Co-Ordinator, who carries on the club ethos and curriculum we have established. So there is very much a firm legacy in place for the future.”
 
“It was also great to see the progress Caledonian is making on all fronts recognised at the recent Quality Mark awards.”