First team fixtures and being stuck at work while other games have been played means I haven’t as yet taken in a “youth” game this season. That should change this Saturday when Carlisle United visit Murray Park on Saturday to play our Under 20 side.
Last season was a strange one for our older youth players. With only the Youth Cup (now Under 20) providing any real competitive football for a large number our players. Not playing in the SPL Under 20 League was a blow whatever the reason, and it was bound to impact on players development. Thankfully we will be playing in the Under 20 league in the coming season and I look forward to attending as many games as possible. Expectations have to be realistic as we will have a very young side, with only three final year Under 20 players on our books, and one if not two of them will be regularly involved with the first team.
The highlight for the youths last season was the Glasgow Cup win for the under 17′s, it was an excellent performance all round with Junior Ogen and Ryan Hardie grabbing the headlines. In the Youth Cup it was disappointing to go out to a heavy defeat from Kilmarnock, after negotiating the first three rounds.
I’m not a big fan of the current setup with competitive leagues not starting till Under 20 and including over age players. I would prefer to see a competitive league at a younger age, wether that be U16, U17 or U18.
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, and there have been a couple of additions which I’ll catch up on in the coming weeks.
A couple of areas where we have to do better were again highlighted last season. Once again a few players that we paid development fees for were released without being offered a pro youth contract. The other concern is the number of players we have released who have then progressed into international youth squads with their current clubs. Some admittedly were released at a very young age, while others raised a few eyebrows when we let them go. It wouldn’t be a concern if it was one or two, but when its hitting double figures it should be.
Some players have been recruited from other clubs at the younger age groups, although I believe the majority we targeted declined and are either staying with their current club of chose elsewhere.
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.
First half of the season’s fixtures are on the link below:-
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.