The blog is getting set for its 8th season with the first youth fixture against Airdrie scheduled for next Tuesday (15th July).
There have been a few changes in pro-youth since the blog started so much so that there effectively isn’t any competitive pro youth leagues for Scotland’s top clubs. This means Scotland is now out of step with every other significant league in Europe. The Under 20 League or to give it its new name The Development League, is not a youth league, in most countries U20 would not really be considered youth and with the number of over age players allowed it is effectively a reserve league.
A review of last season is a bit complicated, runners-up in the under 20 league in my opinion means little. By Under 20 most teams have two or three players in and around the first team, clubs see more benefit from sending players on loan, this was shown by the fact that Rangers played against at least a full team of Under 20 players who were on loan at League 1 clubs last season.
So few clubs would field their strongest side and some clubs fielded very young teams either through choice or due to certain circumstances. It is a damning stat that no U17 player started an Under 20 league game for Rangers.
Where as I was delighted to see us win the Youth Cup, which has morphed from an U18 tournament to also be an U20 competition, but at least it is a true U20 tournament with no overage players. There were a few decent performances in the tournament although victory in the final via a penalty shootout was down to an off night from the Hearts keeper.
As a club we have quite a few full-time players who played very little competitive football. Any U17 players in this category were pretty much limited to the seven Glasgow Cup ties for their competitive fix. Overall The Glasgow Cup was disappointing losing to Celtic in the final, but the low point was being completely out played by Partick Thistle in a 2-1 defeat at Lochinch.
As is the norm a batch from last season’s Under 15’s are stepping up to form part of this season’s Under 17 squad, which I’ll catch up on in the coming weeks.
For the third time in as many years a highly rated youngster has chosen to continue their career elsewhere, with Charlie Telfer moving to Dundee United. If this isn’t a concern then I don’t know what would be, and if stories of administrative incompetence are true it should be a bigger worry. Having watched Charlie come through the age groups I am sorry to see him go and I wish him all the best in the future and will still watch his progress with great interest.
The club starts development games against the other Scottish clubs from Under 11’s, with squads at 12’s, 13’s, 14’s, 15’s and of course 17’s.
The four older age groups usually play on Sundays, two at home and two away, again against the same club. These games are 11-a-side and usually consist of three 30 minute periods, the under 17’s being the exception, playing the standard 45 minutes each-way, players can come on and off through out. Directions to Murray Park are shown below. Murray Park is situated on Auchenhowie Road.
No results are recorded or points awarded at any of the age groups, the focus being on (allegedly) player development. The clubs are discouraged from publishing any details/scores from these games. If there is any major news or developments from the younger age groups I’ll post them here.