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Monday, 22 February 2016 14:53

St Mirren Head of Youth joins Orlando City

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With the beautiful game constantly developing over in the United States, St Mirren have announced that Head of Youth Development, David Longwell, is the latest to take up a position across the pond, as the new Academy Director at Orlando City. Longwell will make the move to The States at the end of March.
Longwell has played an integral part of the set-up at the Paisley club ever since 2001 as a Community Coach, and has overseen and contributed to the development of established players such as Kenny McLean, John McGinn and Stephen Mallan since taking the head youth position in 2005.
Longwell’s efforts have been recognised on numerous occasions, noticeably last week, when St Mirren were awarded with the Club Academy Scotland’s Gold Level Award for the third year running.
Speaking to saintmirren.net, Longwell said that “It is with a heavy heart that I announce that I will be leaving St Mirren Football Club. I would like to thank all our staff, players and fans and everyone associated with St Mirren FC for the support and help I have been given during my time at the club.”
Longwell told the club’s website that the offer in Florida was one that he “couldn’t refuse”. 
He added: “I would like to thank the St Mirren FC board for their support in allowing me to take up this position, and also for giving me the opportunity to oversee and evolve a wonderful Youth Development programme at St Mirren over the years.”
The new CEO at the Paisley 2021 Stadium, Tony Fitzpatrick, was also keen to sing Longwell’s praises, as he said: ““I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve known David a long time as we had coached together before he joined St Mirren.”
“You just have to look at the players he has produced in his time at St Mirren. He has done an incredible job as he has kids playing proper football while also instilling great values and morals in them. He has also taken the Academy to great levels having earned Club Academy Scotland’s Gold Level which many other clubs haven’t achieved.”
Longwell joins the likes of Owen Coyle, Martin Rennie and Mo Johnson as a Scot who is keen to ply his trade in the United States. He joins the Florida side which formed in 2013, and who finished 7th in the Eastern Conference last season.
Longwell’s presence if sure felt to be missed at St Mirren, who will look to find a new Head of Youth Development to lead the next crop of youngsters into the future.
Saturday, 20 February 2016 18:30

Champions Lenzie finish with a flourish

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Fixture: Lenzie Academy 2 Boclair Academy 0
Competition: EDC School League U18s
Venue: Lenzie Academy
Date: 18/02/16
Lenzie rounded off their league campaign with a solid victory.
The defending East Dunbartonshire champions took a grip of the game early on. Boclair goalkeeper Grant Mackie had to be alert to stop efforts from Greg Burns and Lewis Beveridge.
The visitors also had to defend several set pieces, but they did so resolutely.
Lenzie’s Andy Henderson did have the ball in the net midway through the half but he was ruled offside.
Half-Time: Lenzie Academy 0 Boclair Academy 0
Seven minutes after the break, a Lenzie reshuffle paid off when John McCrae struck a sublime left-foot shot to open the scoring.
McCrae then turned provider, finding Greg Burns who added number two with a perfectly-placed finish.
To their credit, Boclair kept plugging away. But they were unable to make a dent in the stuffy Lenzie rearguard and the home side saw out the game to take the points.
Skipper Jonnie Walker was the Lenzie Player of the Day.
Full-Time: Lenzie Academy 2 Boclair Academy 0
1. Carlos Christie
2. John McCrae
3. Jack Kennedy
4. Ben Fowler
5. Andrew Henderson
6. Jonnie Walker (capt)
7. Ben Graham
8. Ally Russell
9. Lewis Beveridge
10. Greg Burns
11. Ewan Wilson
12. Jamie Wallace
13. Jack Coutts
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 00:00

East End Thistle awarded new changing rooms

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- East End Thistle now have facilities they can call their own at Mount Vernon Park.
- It’s thanks to help from Glasgow Life, Glasgow city Council, and the Scottish Football Partnership.
- Simon Ritchie spoke to Club Secretary, David Reid.
The challenges of playing football in Scotland are hard enough, with frozen pitches and torrential downpours just some of what our clubs have to deal with. Add to that equation not having any changing rooms.
But finally, after years of effort and some help from Glasgow Life, Glasgow City Council, and the Scottish Football Partnership, East End Thistle now have changing facilities to call their own. 
Previously, the club, based in Mount Vernon Park, had to rent changing rooms from a nearby community hall, but financially it was unsustainable and they couldn’t rely on them always being available. So Club Secretary David Reid endeavoured to get help from the local council. 
“We went through many councillors to try and get it done, receiving many promises that it would happen, but it just wasn’t moving forward and we were getting nowhere,” he said. “Eventually, working with Gary Hillock from Glasgow Life, we saw our best option was to apply through The Scottish Football Partnership and as we are a quality mark club with a good name they provided us with support while the council funded the installation costs.”
It was a long time coming for the side who originally played at Barrachnie Park a mile up the road, but moved to allow Glasgow East Rugby Club to take their place based on the expectation the new changing rooms would be delivered. Instead, the club has led a nomadic existence, training and playing at nearby schools, Bannerman High and St Andrew’s, when they were unable to use Mount Vernon due to the lack of facilities. 
Now, as the club prepares to enter its tenth year and on the back of their most successful season yet, with the under-19s reaching two cup finals and finishing second in their league, Mr Reid is looking to the future, saying “we hope the club can keep growing as it has been and this award is a massive help in that. We’ve got over 140 kids involved across all our age groups and over two dozen coaches and helpers. Hopefully now, thanks to this award, we can try to run more academy stuff in the future as we believe the younger we get the kids involved in football the more likely they are to stay involved.”
Part of Thistle’s plan to grow within the community is encouraging their players to get their coaching badges as soon as they turn 16 with support from the club and they already have two former players helping out, with Mr Reid saying it “encourages the quieter boys to get involved more and really improves their confidence.”
But Mr Reid has even bigger ambitions and has his eyes set on the dilapidated old changing rooms that still stand in the park. “The council are thinking about demolishing them but we’re trying to get them to hand over the lease to us and then it would be up to us to get funding to renovate them ourselves. If we have the lease, we could apply for lottery funding and as Mount Vernon park has two pitches it means we could have two teams playing at the same time.”
Bold plans for a club on the up thanks to the support of Glasgow Life and The Scottish Football Partnership.
- Damilola Fadun plays for Palace Park and is also a part of the Wee Govan Pipers
- Damilola recently featured in a BBC Alba documentary about the Wee Govan Pipers
- Depsite his love for both, Damilola’s father admits football is still number one. 
How many talented Nigerian footballers can you think off? The likes of Obi Mikel and Ighalo might pop on your mind and many others, we bet. Now, how many talented Nigerian bagpipers can you think off?
Meet Damilola Fadun. The Palace Park star, who is also part of the Wee Govan Pipers, where he practices – and is really good at – the traditional Scottish instrument.
Dami has been involved with the piper group for one and a half years. It all started as the school he attends sent out a letter asking if he wanted to play bagpipes or drums, with an opportunity to play in the World Championships in 2017, in New York. Dami jumped at that chance and opted for the pipes.
“He is looking forward to the competition in the US. He really enjoys playing bagpipes”, says his father, Solomon Fadun, who came to Scotland to study for a PhD.
Recently, BBC Alba did a documentary on The Wee Gowan Pipers. To Dami’s teammates, it was a surprising revelation. “They didn’t know that not only he was a talented footballer, but also at playing the bagpipes. He’s now a bit of a superstar in Govan and his teammates are keen to listen to him playing.”
Performing on stage, or performing on field, doesn’t really seem to make a difference, as Dami shows confidence doing both. Dividing time between the field of play and music is a rare combination for footballers, but one which might prove helpful. Playing the bagpipes helps with lung function, which can only aid the development of stamina for a young athlete.
For the Glaswegian club, it seems they don’t have to worry about losing a player to music. “If he had to choose between music and football, he would rather play football”, guarantees Dami’s father. Palace Park will be relieved.
Tuesday, 08 March 2016 00:00

Celtic BC reach half-century mark

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- Celtic BC are 50 years old this year, forming back in 1966
- Over its existence, approximately more than 6000 young people have been involved with the club.
- The club also has a number of events planned to celebrate the anniversary.
With a simple aim of providing youngsters in Glasgow with the opportunity to take part in organised games of football, the Celtic Boys Club celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2016.

But the simple premise has become much more than just that. Nowadays, the Celtic BC is invested in supporting young people and bridging communities through football, developing a shared sense of belonging, in an environment of equality that allows individuals to thrive and feel safe.

By promoting core values for children with the aid of sport, it is expected that those who are involved with Celtic BC will grow to be responsible adults, who are resilient and hardworking while demonstrating acceptable behaviour and respect for self and others.

Through the course of the first 50 years of their existence, Celtic BC believes that more than 6,000 young ones have been involved with the club, while being orientated by 900 coaches, a number that would represent more than 1% of Glasgow’s population.

But the glory is not solemnly focused on social awareness. Inside the field of play the club has won the European Youth Cup at under 16s level in 1974 and won the Scottish Youth Cup/Amateur Cup on an amazing 21 occasions. Players like Chris Burke (Nottingham Forrest), Dale Keenan (Stranraer), Declan McManus (Greenock Morton) and Scott McManus (Queen’s Park) have all played for the club.

“Extremely proud with what we have achieved but still very conscious of our responsibilities towards our members, especially the younger ones and the communities we serve. We are forever grateful and indebted to our volunteers who continue to help keep this club running.”

To mark the occasion, the Celtic Boys Club has released special merchandise available to purchase on the club’s website. Celebratory events have also been planned.

By looking towards the future, the Celtic BC aims to continually honour the club’s heritage, serve the needs of children and young people in the communities. “Always serve better than ever before and be there for future generations”.
Fixture: Bonnyton Thistle v Rutherglen Glencairn
Competition: inspiresport Scottish Youth FA Cup U21 Quarter Final
Date: 07/02/2016
Kyle Gilroy grabbed a first half double as underdogs Bonnyton Thistle romped their way to a surprise 4-0 win over league rivals Rutherglen Glencairn in the Scottish Youth FA Cup.
Glencairn were fancied favourites and came into the match having beaten Bonnyton 4-1 in the previous encounter between the two teams this season and a place above them in the league. The year before, however, it was Bonnyton who had the better record against the South Lanarkshire side.
Despite the tense history between the two, the game kicked off and saw both sides try to keep the ball on the deck from the get-go. Bonnyton manufactured the first chance of the game within three minutes, working the ball nicely from the left wing to the edge of the box. Chris Kelly, Craig Patterson and Gilroy were all involved in the flowing move, exchanges one-touch passes, and Kelly’s cut back found the big striker but Patterson’s left-footed strike bounced into the hands of Glencairn goalie Christopher Truesdale. 
The match continued at a quick tempo with both teams playing the ball on the ground, but with no chances until the ten minute mark when Gilroy found space in the box. Reece Lapham had worked his way from right back into a position to send over a terrific cross and Gilroy sneaked in at the back post and nodded home from inside the six-yard box to make it 1-0 to the home team.
Before the game, Bonnyton assistant coach Garry Bole had said if his team could score the first goal it would be crucial – he would be proved completely correct.
For the next ten minutes Bonnyton only grew stronger, enjoying particular success down the right hand side with Marc Maguire and Lapham. Despite the home side being in the ascendency Glencairn, for the moment, weren’t panicking. They continued to knock the ball around at pace, with Peter Copeland and Jason McArthur pulling the strings.
Despite Glencairn’s drive, Bonnyton began to turn up the heat and Gilroy was again the thorn in the away team’s side on 19 minutes. He set off on what may go down as the goal of the round as he picked the ball up just outside the box on the right hand side, jinked his way inside past two players before sizing up the keeper and side-footing the ball over him and into the top corner.
The second goal settled Bonnyton down into a slower pace of play, forcing Glencairn to chase a lot of shadows. Glencairn however looked particularly dangerous on the break, as flurries in behind the defence from McArthur showed. If Glencairn had been able to find him more often, you have to imagine he could have caused even more problems.
Kieran McCrum, along with Lapham and Gilroy, had been the standouts for Bonnyton so far. Despite not being involved in any of the goals, McCrum’s calm and composed nature on the ball, combined with his controlled aggression, assured he barely put a foot wrong throughout the half.
As the half came to a close, Glencairn had a penalty appeal turned down by the referee and a shot whistle over the bar from David Quinn. At the other end, Kelly met a through ball over the middle with his head and flicked it on to Patterson in front of him, leaving the striker with only the keeper to beat, but Truesland stood firm and parried the ball away.
Half Time: Bonnyton Thistle 2-0 Rutherglen Glencairn
The second half was a lot more subdued than the first, as Bonnyton got comfortable with their two goal lead and defended well to prevent any Glencairn counter attacks.
There was nothing of note in the first five minutes after the restart at all – and then the referee gave a penalty against Glencairn for handball.
Complaints from the defence fell on deaf ears and Patterson quickly grabbed the ball to prepare for the spot kick. After missing two chances earlier in the game it was third time lucky for the striker, drilling the ball low to Truesdale’s right and subsequently fist-pumping in front of the fans. 
The third goal all but killed the game as a spectacle. You got the feeling Glencairn were just not at their best and had no way back – and they knew it. They were becoming increasingly frustrated, but to their credit they still looked to get Copeland on the ball and he was usually able to find another black jersey. Bonnyton were now the firmly dominant side in the game.
Both teams almost became aware of this stalemate of sorts, as tackles began to fly in and tempers flared, on and off the pitch.
To remind us all that we were watching a football match, Glencairn forced Stuart Cowan into two cracking saves in the space of the minute, the first from McArthur and the second from Paul Caughey.
And ten minutes before the end of the game Sean Mears stepped up to a free kick and clipped a delicious ball towards the front of the six-yard box, to which centre back Ian Paterson headed over the stranded Truesdale and into the roof of the net. Bonnyton had now matched the goal tally that Glencairn managed against them in the league this year – proving that on cup day, anything can happen.
Bonnyton manager, Ian Higgins, said after the game: “You’ve got to love when the underdog wins, especially in a Scottish Cup quarter final.”
Full Time: Bonnyton Thistle 4-0 Rutherglen Glencairn
Bonnyton Man of the Match: Kieran McCrum
Rutherglen Man of the Match: Peter Copeland
Saturday, 06 February 2016 22:08

Finnart and Glencairn prepare for tie of the weekend

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This weekend in Glasgow, one tie is capturing the imagination. Sunday morning will see Finnart take on Rutherglen Glencairn at Glasgow Green's 3G facility. Two bang in form sides competing for the same cause, with plenty of history and a local derby thrown into the mix. What's not to get excited about?
Both sides have hit the ground running in their first season of 11-a-side football. After impressing in their League Cup groups both teams were placed in the top division of the Glasgow & District Youth Football League. Despite being up against some of the strongest teams in the region, both have a near identical record with just one defeat. Finnart are ahead having played a couple of games more, sitting second in the league.
Top of the tree are Drumsagard, who boast a perfect record - including victory over both Finnart and Rutherglen. A lot of football remains in a season 2015/16 that has been hampered by postponements in recent weeks. However, whoever wins tomorrow's match (if there is a winner) would have the destiny of the league title in their own hands.
William Murray of Finnart said: "We started prepping for elevens this time last year and the progression has been phenomenal. That's down to the commitment and dedication of our players. We started off pre-season winning the Glasgow City Cup and have progressed in the League Cup, West Regional Cup and we sit second behind Drumsagard in the league."
"As a team who were average at 7 a sides, with a few additions at the start of the season, we now have a belief that we can compete with any Under 13s team we come up against. We are looking to keep the pressure on Drumsagard, and I am sure Rutherglen Glencairn will feel the same.  With both teams only suffering a league defeat to Drumsagard and a cup tie that was decided on penalties this game is sure to be a cracker."
"Like before we expect an end to end game with chances at either end and we hope it's Finnart who come out on top this time around."
John McColl of Rutherglen Glencairn said: "We've been really pleased with our first season at elevens and also we're really fortunate to have such a great bunch of boys. We've played some great football at times and shown some real fight at times when we've really needed to. We know Finnart well from playing sevens and a few of the boys go to school with each other. We always enjoy the games we play against them as you know that you need to be at your best to get a result."
"Nothing will be won or lost for either team on Sunday. We sit just behind them in the league, however, we have a few games in hand and a good result for us may just perhaps give us the narrowest of advantages over them in challenging for the title."

Fixture: Lenzie Academy v Bearsden Academy
Competition: EDC Schools Cup U18s
Venue: Kirkintilloch
Date: 04/02/2016
Lenzie Academy edged through to the semi-finals of the EDC Schools Cup after an epic encounter under the St Ninian’s High floodlights.
The Navy Blues started the stronger with Jack Banks and Greg Burns both looking lively.
After a spell of pressure, Lenzie took the lead on the 25 minute mark. Bearsden ‘keeper Toland could only push Ally Russell’s powerful drive onto the post and Lenzie skipper Jonnie Walker pounced to net the rebound.
However the visitors responded well and Nicky O’Brien headed them level three minutes before half-time.
Half Time: Lenzie Academy 1-1 Bearsden Academy
Bearsden enjoyed more possession after the interval but they were undone by a quick break from Lenzie.
A surging run from Lewis Beveridge set up Ben Graham and the wingman fired a delightful shot high into the net.
Showing great resilience, the visitors bounced back and a howitzer from full-back Lewis Gourlay tied the scores once again.
With six minutes left, and penalties looming, Lenzie midfielder Russell dramatically clinched the tie when he headed home Graham’s corner.
Full Time: Lenzie Academy 3-2 Bearsden Academy
Lenzie coach Will Walker commented: “We’re obviously very pleased with the win but much credit is due to both teams for putting on such an exciting match after the long lay-off.”
Ally Russell was the Lenzie Academy Player of the Day.
1. Carlos Christie
2. Jack Coutts
3. Jack Kennedy
4. Ben Fowler
5. Ally Russell
6. Jonnie Walker (C)
7. Ben Graham
8. Ewan Wilson
9. John McCrae
10. Greg Burns
11. Jack Banks
12. Jamie Wallace
15.  Lewis Beveridge
Tuesday, 26 January 2016 11:53

Q&A with: Craig Joyce

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In this Q&A, Gillen Reid speaks to Craig Joyce. He's a former Glasgow City youth coach, current owner of 6, 8 or 10, and also works for the Scottish FA.
Can you give us some background on your experience in coaching Craig?
I began coaching at the youthful age of 16. As my first guest James Docherty highlighted on the 6, 8 or 10 podcast, there was always a coach hiding inside me as a youngster. I would always be one of the kids in the group/team who would organise and talk. If you know me personally I like to talk. I talk a lot, especially about football.
When I was a youngster at Hamilton Accies I completed my first coaching badge 'Early Touches' with Jim Chapman. We would all coach as part of our daily routine before we trained, It came as part of the package when we signed. At that point I didn't think I would ever go on to coach. My dad was a coach along with some of his friends, so at the time I was happy playing and saw that as my future. 
During pre-season I also did some work with Rangers, helping coach at their Residential Camps. I would do this when I wasn't training as an enthusiastic volunteer, looking to gain experience of coaching with different people. You can always learn something from someone. I coached with Alan Boyd, Davie Stewart, Scott Allison, Craig Mulholland, and Brian Reid. I also got to coach with ex-Rangers players Alex Clelland and Steven Wright who were great with me.
Even though I began my coaching journey at the age of 16 I still wasn't that interested in doing it. I was always training or playing, enjoying my football. It was maybe five or six years later I would consider even taking my badges again and stepping into the world of coaching. I would explore college and have alot of time for the people who helped develop me in that environment; Alan Simpson started the process by visiting me at my house on a Friday night before a gig. I enrolled on the Monday and the rest was history. 
Your former colleague Tommy, who has chatted before, he mentioned some magnificent success stories as part of the record breaking group of players you coached. Anything you would like to add?
If I'm honest my time at City opened up my eyes to Girls & Women's football. I had been involved in the female game before but this would be my first time in taking a team. My time there taught me a lot about patience, building relationships with parents, people at the club and most importantly the players. I'm a big believer in knowing your players. Get to know them as best you can and help develop them on a playing and personal level. Glasgow City would allow me to explore myself as a person and find my style of coaching.
I went to City under the impression that I would be working with Tommy, who I had discussed the club on many a Monday night at Regional Squads. Little did he know he was selling me on a move to the club at the time! A week later I would have my own squad of kids some who had just made the transition from four-a-sides to 7's. A challenge in itself, but that was the great thing about it, a clean slate with some kids and a coach who were all developing. We would be the development squad and had a pretty impressive first season together. The second season would show further development as well as picking up a trophy against a very strong and talented Celtic side. We were still a young side and showed we could compete at a performance level. 
At the end of that season Tommy announced his retirement. His group joined my own team and the Glasgow City Blacks were created.
We started pre-season with one thing in mind, to gel. The squad had never played the same way or formation before, and I had never applied my style of coaching to the group, so it was important to become comfortable. To my relief, it never proved an issue and we had a great pre-season. Our goals for the season were set and we embarked on an incredible journey.
If you followed the team throughout the season you would see we racked up an incredible amount of goals. We conceded some, but that was always going to be the case in our terms of direct, attacking play. It would sometimes leave us short, susceptible to route one football. Complacency would be our strongest opponent and thankfully the group never let it set it. We went unbeaten in all competitions. League, League Cup, A Memorial Tournament, and the Scottish Cup. Hard work, dedication and some very talented young kids made it all possible. 
Being a volunteer you can pick up a lot of roles. I don't mind them but it can take its toll and focus off the most important thing, the players.
At the beginning of the season I made my mind up that I would leave at the end of the season and in June I made the parents & players aware. That was hard as I've made some great friends through the club. Nothing changed. They didn't take the foot off the grass and continued as we meant to go on. As far as I was concerned I had done my job at City, developed the group I had worked with over three years, got players into Regional & National Squads, won six trophies, and played some beautiful football in the process of it all. Job done. 
So with you taking the career break what keeps Craig Joyce busy these days?
I own my own brand - 6, 8 or 10, which consists of my own blog, podcast and, some pretty cool merchandise. It's all about life and the beautiful game. I’m a connoisseur of the game and have a very obsessive relationship with it, just in case you haven’t noticed. The response to the blog and podcast have been great and the guests we have had have been fantastic.
Anyone want a pin badge? 
I'm on a sabbatical from coaching. I do think about it now and then but I haven't got itchy feet quite yet. As far as club football goes I won't be back involved until the end of this current season which of course hasn’t begun yet. I have spoken with some clubs and have agreed to join one at the end of the season, starting fresh for next season.
Who? I can't tell you that, but I look forward to it and hope to see some familiar faces when I'm back involved. It will be a new challenge for me.
 For now my focus is fully on developing 6, 8 or 10.
Monday, 25 January 2016 15:38

From Rangers rejection to St Mirren success

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“When he was four years old he was able to control a ball whilst holding off his big brother and friends”. That’s the moment when Kyle McAllister demonstrated he had a special talent for football, according to his mother, Karen.
The young lad from Renfrew went on to join his first club, Bishopton United, when he was just five. He quickly moved on to Cherrie Boys Club (picture below: top right), where he played with a group that was two years older than he was, but he thrived under the challenge. “His time at those clubs immensely helped to shape him” said Karen.
Now a part of the Scotland U17 team (picture below: top left), Kyle is another excellent prospect of Scottish players who have started to demonstrate the raise in the level of the game in the country. His family quickly noticed his potential, and scouts weren’t that far behind. When only seven, both Charlie Palmer, from Rangers, and Charlie McGarvey, from Celtic, approached the McAllisters in an attempt to make Kyle into a pro-youth player.
A few years at Rangers followed (picture below: bottom right), before being released. According to his mother, a though time for the player in the making that was Kyle. “I’m sure that he was hurt, but he shows very little emotion. He is still very much in contact with his old teammates and he plays alongside a couple of the lads with Scotland U17s”.
After the experience at Rangers, he moved to Renfrew Vics (picture below: bottom left) and loved it. “Going back to boys football relight a love for the game on Kyle, after the frustration with Rangers. Going to Renfrew helped him to find his track again.
The talent was obvious as soon as he picked up his game, and it was just a matter of time until clubs realized that, and tried to take Kyle to a pro level once more. “I was over the moon when St. Mirren signed Kyle. He really deserved it”.
Since then, Kyle has found his way in St Mirren (picture above). “He is loving it. At St. Mirren he is playing alongside a great, very talented group of boys and he is learning every day”.
Featuring on the bench for the first team regularly, Kyle has the personal objective of getting on the pitch and become a first team player. “Also, he would love to play again for Scotland”.