Archive for May, 2020

Opposition Youth Players Part 2

May 30, 2020

Since part 1 was well received I am continuing with a look at youth players I have seen playing against Rangers over the years. As before I’ll name a few I thought were top prospects, some that were very good players, a few that I thought who may progress but didn’t, some I didn’t see the hype for and one or two that kinda slipped under the radar. As before all this is just my own opinions.

Dundee United:- Jim McLean’s Championship winning side back in 1983 was way before the talk of “Youth Academies”. Yet when you look at the twenty man squad from that season fifteen of them were at their first professional club.

Eamon Bannon cost £165,000 from Chelsea, Paul Hegarty was a £27,500 signing from Hamilton Accies, Gary McGinnis a free transfer from Celtic, Ian Britton and Iain Phillip were singed from Chelsea and Dundee respectively but I don’t know if there were any fees involved.

The “fifteen” included the likes of Richard Gough, Maurice Malpas, David Narey, Ralph Milne, Paul Sturrock and Davie Dodds as well as club stalwarts like John Clark, John Holt and Billy Kirkwood. This conveyor belt continued under McLean with the Raymond Stewart, Kevin Gallagher and Duncan Ferguson to name a few, having significant careers a wee bit later.

Coming back to the modern day academy years there are three players that would put above the other youth players.

First would be Ryan Gauld, he wasn’t tiny but was really slightly built and his jersey always seemed a bit too big but the kid could really play. I don’t know for sure but I would imagine Rangers won most of the games he played in but I always looked forward to seeing him. Became a bit of a trailblazer moving to Sporting Lisbon at the age of 19. For whatever reason he hasn’t quite progressed and at 24 now find himself with Farense in the Portuguese second division.

A young Ryan Gauld

The next player I would highlight is John Souttar, a year younger and like Ryan Gauld a product of Brechin City Boys Club. An elegant footballing centre back who made his debut at 16 and was soon attracting interest from the English Premiership and in January 2013 he turned down a move to Sunderland who had a £600,000 offer accepted. A few injuries followed which appeared to stall his progression, but Dundee United must have been in dire financial state to accept a rumoured £100,000 for his transfer to Hearts in February 2016. My initial reaction was “why were we not in the picture at that price ?”. He has performed well for Hearts and has become a player that is attracting transfer talk again, despite twice suffering a ruptured achilles.

I never had his brother Harry quite at the same level, perhaps at 6′ 6″ he was never going to look as elegant on the pitch as his brother. Yet it was Harry who got the Premiership move, transferring to Stoke City in September 2018. Having changed his International allegiance to Australia he is in the unique position of have scored four goals in his two World Cup appearances. Two each in qualifiers against Nepal and Chinese Taipei.

The third player may surprise some, its Sporting Kansas City striker Johnny Russell. A player that scored regularly against Rangers and always gave us problems through the age groups. Following a successful period in the United first team he moved to Derby County for £750,000 in June 2013. Moved to the MLS two years ago and has gained fourteen Scotland caps.

I could have put quite a few in the second list so it is a bit edited. Stuart Armstrong was very good although I didn’t really see him as a Premiership player. Kieran Freeman and Ali Coote moved south early, Scott Allan maybe had a bit of an attitude even back then, Scott Fraser was talented. Two players I thought would have made more progress are Ryan Ferguson and Ryan McCord.

Kieran Freeman moved to Southampton

Never really seen the hype of keeper Marc McCallum who was rumoured to be subject of interest from Manchester City among others as a youngster.Ryan Dow was another although he has gone on to have a decent career in Scotland.

The under the radar player is maybe a wee bit unfair as he is very recent and I just don’t remember/know if I have seen him. It is Scott Banks who moved to Crystal Palace after one first team appearance.

Following a few quiet years Dundee United’s academy seems to be on the rise again. Rangers have targeted four Dundee United players in the last couple of years, three have chosen to remain where they are, and the other moved to Celtic. One of the players still at Dundee United, Chris Mochrie became Dundee United’s youngest ever first team player, taking the record from John Souttar.

Quite a long piece there, but I make no apologies for that as I have always been an admirer of the Dundee United youth setup over the years.

Falkirk:- A club much missed from the pro youth scene, I felt the beginning of the end came when they were kinda pushed into the Forth Valley experiment, which was pretty much dominated by Falkirk. I don’t know the ins and outs of the details but the instigation of Project Brave cut their funding. There was also rumours that the manager at the time wanted the academy budget for the first team. I am pretty sure there must be some regret from people at the club at the demise of what was a reasonably successful academy.

I can’t really think of anyone that I would put in that really top bracket, but there was a period where they were taking Rangers cast offs and making significant money from them. Transferring four former Rangers academy players for reported fees of over £2 million.

I can’t comment on Jay Fulton, I believe he was at Rangers at a young age but I don’t think I seen him play in a Rangers jersey. My knowledge of Botti Biabi is a bit limited too, I seen him a couple of times when he was on an extended trial. On the evidence of those games I did expect Rangers to sign him as he was a Sinky type, big, strong powerful striker. Both earned moves to Swansea City and had contrasting fortunes there. Fulton playing nineteen Premiership games while Biabi failed to progress and signed for Stenhousemuir this season.

The progress of the other two players didn’t surprise me as I was really disappointed when Rangers released them. Centre back Murray Wallace was offered a one year “schoolboy” contract at sixteen, apparently he was deemed “too skinny”, while Falkirk were offering him a three year deal. Falkirk actually paid Rangers a development fee and he broke into the first team at eighteen. Around his nineteenth birthday he was transferred to Huddersfield for a fee that would reach £700, 000 with add ons. Now at Millwall he has played over 100 games in the Championship and over 300 senior appearances overall.

Murray Wallace at Falkirk

Connor McGradles was a bit different in that he was a wee bit younger when he left Rangers. Again I was surprised as he was a player I really rated. He broke into the Falkirk first team just after his seventeenth birthday, and was transferred to Norwich City before his nineteenth birthday for a reported fee of £1 million. He suffered a double leg fracture when back on loan at Falkirk in February 2016. He has since moved to MK Dons where he has played regularly for the past three seasons.

Quite a few in the second category including our own Scott Arfield who I sure we were linked with back then. We were certainly linked with cuurent Livingston player Craig Sibbald on a regular basis. Add to that Tony Gallcher and Stephen Kingsley who moved to Liverpool and Swansea City respectively.

Going back a wee bit futher Lee Miller and Mark Kerr both have had decent careers. Two players who I thought may have made a move up from Falkirk are Kevin O’Hara and Kieran Duffie, but they are now at Alloa Athletic and Clyde respectively.

Hamilton Accies:- In my opinion Accies have a knack of producing really good teams rather than focusing on individual talents. Like other clubs of their size they also try to develop players discarded by bigger clubs.

Youth league winners the year before last I took in their Champions Youth League game against Basle and a few of that squad have made the first team breakthrough. In my opinion the pick are centre-back Jamie Hamilton who at eighteen still has a bit of physical development to come. And winger Lewis Smith who scored twice against Rangers this season.

They seemed to have a special player at a young age a few years ago in Aidan Laverty. A small slight player he played in the number 10 role and really caught the eye. At 13 he was going back and forward to Manchester United, when their interest waned he was one of SIX players Celtic paid Hamilton a development fee for from the same age group. Where other players were growing he wasn’t and he struggled for game time at Celtic, certainly against the better teams. I can only remember one late sub appearance against Rangers. I was surprised to see him in the Falkirk/Hearts select that took on Rangers in David Hagen’s benefit game. He played wide right, had grown a bit but was still slightly built although you could see he was a skilful player. He suffered an ACL injury in January 2019 and is working his way back to fitness now aged 20.

Aidan Laverty now at Falkirk

Ali Crawford, Danny Armstrong and Stephen Hendrie were all talented players. Crawford was around a while before moving to Doncaster Rovers and then on to Bolton Wanderers. Winger Armstrong moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers at seventeen but is now back in Scotland with Raith Rovers. A bosman deal took full-back Hendrie to West Ham where he went out on loan a couple of times before signing for Kilmarnock this season.

Danny Armstrong moves to Wolves

One that was lost to the game is Steffen Connelly a highly rated midfielder in the 2000 age group. He resisted Celtic’s approaches as five or six of his team mates made the move. He was culpable for a challenge that put Grant Nelson on the sidelines for well over a year. He was seventeen when he left Hamilton and appears to have given up the game. One of the players that made the move I thought had a chance was Kieran Campbell. He was a striker at Hamilton but played wide right at Celtic. To add a bit of confusion it appears Celtic had a defender player of the same name. I think the ex Hamilton player became Kieran P Campbell. Anyway he never progressed and I think he is now at Cumbernauld Colts.

There was a period when it seemed Celtic would buy few a Hamilton Accies academy players every year. A couple really surprised me and was quite pleased to see them spend money on them. Mark Hill a midfielder think he is still there, always looked to be carrying a few extra pounds. Size and physique gave him a bit of an advantage as a youngster. Goalkeeper Joshua Rae came to prominence when he was allegedly offered a trail by Atletico Madrid when he played for a local team when on holiday in Spain. Celtic followed the hype and paid a significant development fee for him as one of the Accies 2000 group. Celtic continued the hype when they gave a late sub appearance in a reserve game when he was 14, but they actually had two sub keepers on the bench for that game. Never seen the hype myself and he is now at Cowdenbeath.

The player I would have to say that came under the radar is our own Greg Docherty. I know I seen him play for Accies youth as I have both lineups for some older age group games. I must have seen him at younger age groups but can’t say he really stuck out.

They have a young player around 13/14 that has caught my eye but like many I seem to notice he is really small. Credit to Hamilton they actually play him up a year when it would be easy to leave him in his own age groups or play him down. I’ll watch his progress with interest.

If their is enough interest I’ll work on Part 3 next week, might be hindered a wee bit as the horse racing is back on Monday !!

Opposition Youth Players Part One

May 27, 2020

A few people have suggested a post on the best opposition youth players I have seen playing against Rangers. It is something I have thought about for a while but its not straightforward for a number of reasons.

For CAS fixtures from U13’s through to U16’s the team lineups are difficult to come by. I “learn” the Rangers squads through watching the games usually with the help of one or two parents. Opposition players may become known when Rangers, Celtic or both are trying to sign them. Or when Scotland gatherings are announced, although this is not the be all and end all as there is a bit of politics involved in these selections.

Another problem is I almost exclusively watch Rangers teams, so apart from the odd youth International I only see opposition players around twice a season. I also may only have identified them from around the age of fifteen or sixteen.

Having had a wee look I also think I may have an unconscious bias towards former Rangers academy players. I tend to have seen more of them and I also feel there was a period where we made quite a few mistakes in releasing players. Also maybe a wee bit biased to those that became Rangers players later on.

The economics of Scottish football mean Rangers and Celtic generally have the strongest squads at most age groups and are always looking to pillage the rest. Other clubs can hit a high spot and produce a good group and at other times a “hidden game” can be difficult to spot in a poor group playing against Rangers.

In addition I am trying to write about these players as I saw them as “youth players” and not the player they have become. The way I have decided to approach this is to look at each club and split players into my top rated, ones I thought would make the first team, maybe some where I didn’t see the hype and a few that came maybe under the radar.

The youth league started in 1993/1994 season prior to that games were few and far between. Games at younger age groups were always difficult to get location and kick-off times before the training ground opened.

Aberdeen:- Aberdeen have had a few top youth players over the years and I would put four in that category. Two from a while back who didn’t quite fulfil their potential and two who are making there way in the game.

Fraser Fyvie and Jack Grimmer were a year apart but as youth players they were as good as any player in the country.

Fyvie’s one substitute appearance in the Premiership for Wigan against Aston Villa was the peak of his career. He has suffered a few injuries over the years and now at 27 years old find himself at Cove Rangers. He gained eight Scotland Under 21 caps.

Jack Grimmer had only played a handful of games when he moved to Fulham at 18. His career didn’t quite take off in London but he did make thirteen Championship appearances. Still only 26 and now on the books of Wycombe Wanderers. A solitary U21 cap is the peak of his Scotland career.

Billy Gilmour was far and away the best player in the country in the 2001 group, but Aberdeen had two midfield players that were at the level below, Dean Campbell and Terry Taylor. Campbell has already made close to forty top team appearances while Taylor chose to make a move south and signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers at 16. He made his first team debut as a sub in this season’s League Cup against Aston Villa.

There are quite a few in the second category and some have achieved more than others. Our own Ryan Jack, Peter Pawlett, Nicky Low, Elvis Costello Declan McManus and Daniel Harvey to name a few. The biggest disappointment would be Craig Storrie who I think is now out of senior football at 24.

I’ve never really seen the hype on Scott McKenna and still don’t. A young player who I was surprised when Celtic paid a significant development fee for is Christian Antonazzi. He returned to Aberdeen after a year and is still there now aged 20, was on loan at Cove Rangers recently.

Ryan Fraser has to be the one that got under the radar, for most of his youth career his was playing full-back. It was then thought he was too small for that role and his career really took off when he moved further forward. By that time he was in the final six months of his contact and moved to Bournemouth, who were in League One at the time for £400,000.

Aberdeen have a few really good players in various age groups at the moment.

Celtic:- No doubt some people might not me saying this but this would be the biggest group. I could have listed a few more Aberdeen players and this list with be significantly edited.

I’ve picked three based on their performances against at youth level that would suggest they would be top players. Shay Given, James Forrest and Kieran Tierney.

When Shay Given was at Celtic, Rangers were miles ahead at youth level and was a few games where he really did keep the score down. I believe Celtic lost him to Blackburn because he was only on a YTS contract.

Forrest always gave our teams problems and we found it difficult to cope with him at times. He was a significant player any time I seen him.

Tierney had a few injury problems as a young players but when he was fit you could see if he overcame these issues he would be a top player.

I thought about Callum McGregor for the previous group but in my opinion he developed a bit later,. Through the academy age groups he was a very good player but not quite at the level where he really influenced games the way he does today.

Some of the players I thought were very effective at various youth groups against Rangers are as follows. Steven Boyd, Tony Ralston, Liam Henderson, Jamie Lindsay, Michael Tidser, Cillian Sheridan, Paul George, Marcus Fraser and Michael Johnston. I was very surprised when they didn’t offer David Wotherspoon a pro contract and he moved to Hibs.

Didn’t quite join the Islam Feruz hype, he had obvious talent but equally obvious issues that would have to be over come. I saw him around ten times, man of the match twice, red carded twice, two strops for being substituted playing for Scotland. The other has just been released by Celtic is Calvin Miller, didn’t see what others were seeing there. Played for Rangers SABC and I believe was briefly at Rangers at a very young age.

My under the radar choice I have gone for Stephen McManus, Celtic have always seemed to go for a particular type of centre back. And as a youth player i felt when Stephen got the ball I knew we would get it back. I was really surprised when he broke into Celtic’s first team but it’s a credit to him and who ever was coaching him that he became a really good defender for club and country. He also comes across as a genuine guy.

When I started this post I didn’t realise it would be so long, so I will spilt it over a few post and look at a couple of clubs on each post. It is really just my opinion and everyone would see all these players mentioned differently.

2002 Youth Cup Win

May 24, 2020

Having covered the first two Youth Cup wins in a previous post I though it was time to look at the 2002 win over Ayr United.

In 2002 Rangers successful run began at Hamilton Park, the home of Girvan FC. A goal from Gary Martin and a double from John Adam secured a comfortable if unspectacular win. Next up was a home tie against Ross County at the training centre, and singles from the previous round goalscorers saw Rangers win 2-1.

Not sure if there was another tie before the last eight clash with Celtic. If there was it may have clashed with a first team game. The Ross County game was in November and another home game against Celtic came in February. Rangers opted to take the game to Dumbarton and a superb Alan Hutton strike separated the teams. The Semi-Final threw up a trip to Brockville to take on Falkirk, a side much missed from youth football. The game finished goalless with Rangers edging through on a penalty shootout.

This matched Rangers with Ayr United and the final was played at New Douglas Park on April 10th. Rangers took the lead with a Chris Burke solo effort just before the half-hour mark. With the Rangers defence struggling to clear former Rangers academy player Scott Chaplain sent a looping header over Graeme Smith to draw the sides level just before the break.

A Charlie Adam double, a contrasting twenty-five yarder and close range finish had Rangers 3-1 up before the hour mark. Ayr reduced the deficit with an Aaron Black lob, but Chris Burke soon restored Rangers two goal lead with his second of the game to ensure Rangers victory.

Back Row:- Tom Brighton, Chris McLeod, Fraser Coyle, Gary Martin, Anton Nugent, Darryl Duffy, Brian McLean. Front Row:- Charlie Adam, Kevin Morrison, Alan Hutton Graeme Smith, Andy Dowie, Chris Burke, Alex Walker, Steven Smith, John Adam.

Graeme Smith:- “Buzz” never made a first team appearance but has had a varied career and is currently on the books of Stenhousmuir. He played in the premier league with Motherwell and Hibernian, he made the Scotland squad during his time at Motherwell and although he never got a full cap he did make a Scotland B appearance against Republic of Ireland in November 2007. His biggest headline was probably signing for former England Internationalist Tony Adams at Azerbaijan side Gabala where he spent a season.

Graeme Smith

Alan Hutton:- One of many from this squad that needs no introduction. My early memories of Alan was as a midfielder but his career really took off when he moved to right-back. He made his first team debut in December 2002 and really came to the fore with his performances in the 2007/2008 Champions League games. This saw him reluctantly move to Spurs in January 2008 for a reported £9 million. His time at Spurs was interrupted with a short loan spell at Sunderland. In August 2011 he moved to Aston Villa where he would spend the rest of his career, although there was loan moves to Notts Forest, Real Mallorca and Bolton Wanderers. He made a total of fifty appearances for Scotland. He was released by Aston Villa at the end of 2018/2019 season and announced his retirement in February this year.

Steven Smith:- Despite his injury problems Steven made over 100 appearances during his two spells at the club. He made his first team debut in November 2004 against Hearts. He was part of the 2010 League Cup winning side as a late substitute for Nacho Novo. Injuries meant he never nailed down a place and left for Norwich City in the summer of 2010. Further injuries limited his appearances there and he moved to Aberdeen on loan in January 2011. Spells at Preston North End and Portland Timbers followed before returning to the club in June 2013 as Rangers prepared for their League One season. On leaving Rangers at the end 2014/15 season he had a successful spell at Kilmarnock with his contract ending in May 2018. His representative appearances for Scotland peaked with a B international appearance against Republic of Ireland in November 2006.

Andy Dowie:- Captain and highly rated Andy made his one and only first team appearance a month after the final. Coming on as a late sub for Christian Nerlinger at Dunfermline Athletic. A loan spell at Brechin City gave him a taste of first team football and on leaving Rangers in 2004 he went on to make over 500 senior appearances with clubs as varied as Partick Thistle, Stranraer, Ross County, Queen of the South and Dumbarton. But his career peaked at Dunfermline where he was a regular is their 2011/2012 season in the Premier League. He signed for Cumnock Juniors earlier this season and has scored three goals in eleven appearances.

Chris McLeod:- Never manged to make the first team at Rangers but from 2004 through to 2012 he made close to 100 senior appearances with various clubs. The peak being the 2009/2010 season with around thirty appearances for League One Stenhousemuir. He also played for Morton, Arbroath, Raith Rovers, Montrose and Berwick Rangers.

Chris McLeod at Berwick Rangers

Fraser Coyle:- Fraser was another that never made the first team break through. On leaving Rangers he spent season 2005/2006 at Airdrie United, scoring their seventh goal in a 7-0 win over Dundee !! He was a regular in the Forfar Athletic side the following season but then seems to have dropped from the senior game.

Chris Burke:- Another that needs no introduction Chris had already played and scored for the first team against Kilmarnock in March 2002. Illness set back his early career missing almost a year before coming back strongly and featuring well in 2005/2006 Champions League. By 2008/2009 he was out of the first team picture and moved to Cardiff City in January 2009. He made around 300 appearances during his time in the English League all in the Championship with Birmingham City, Notts Forrest, Rotherham United as well as the aforementioned Cardiff City. After a brief stint at Ross County he has been a mainstay in the Kilmarnock side for the past three seasons. He played seven times for Scotland, scoring a double against Bulgaria in the Kirin Cup in 2006.

Charlie Adam:- Made his first team debut against Livingston in April 2004. Loan spells at Ross County and St.Mirren then followed, with the time at St.Mirren being particularly successful, winning the First Division title and Challenge Cup. The following season saw Charlie established in the Rangers team culminating in winning the club’s young player of the year. Played in a number of games during the run to Manchester but was an unused sub in the final. Having lost his first team place Charlie moved to Blackpool on loan in February 2009, the transfer being made permanent in August that year for £5000,000. A strong performance during Blackpool’s season in the Premier League saw Liverpool pay £6.75 million for his services. He did well in hist first season at Anfield but slipped out the picture the following season and moved to Stoke City for a reported £4 million. Seven seasons in The Potteries took his Premier League appearances to over two hundred. He moved to Reading for the current season and has made fifteen appearances. He has played twenty-six times for Scotland but surprisingly has never scored for his country.

Darryl Duffy:- Striker Darryl made two first team appearances, in a league cup tie against Forfar Athletic in November 2003 and his league debut two months later against Dundee. A brief loan spell at Brechin City saw him score four goals in eight games. He kept up this ratio when he left Rangers for Falkirk, including nine goals in sixteen games in the Premier League. This earned him a move to Hull City for a reported £250,000 and the his nomadic period really began, taking him to his current tally of fifteen clubs. Another successful brief loan spell prompted Swansea City, then a League One club pay £200,000 for his services. He was soon on the move again, to Bristol Rovers, a loan spell in the SPL with Hibernian among others followed. Next to come was an Indian adventure, playing for Salgaocar FC, FC Goa & Mohun Bagan during a four year period. On return to Scotland he played for St.Mirren, Airdrie United and his current club Stirling Albion. He gained two Scotland B caps while a Falkirk player in 2005.

Darryl Duffy in India with Mohun Bagan

Alex Walker:- Alex made two substitute appearances in 2003/2004 season against Motherwell at Fir Park and at home to Partick Thistle. While at Rangers he had a successful loan spell at Clyde. On leaving Rangers Alex spent five seasons at Morton and a single season at East Stirling before dropping from the senior game.

Alex Walker at Morton

Tom Brighton:- Another that made a single first team appearance, in a 1-1 draw away to Dunfermline Athletic. He had a brief loan spell at Scunthorpe United before leaving Rangers for Clyde in pre -season of 2005/2006. The highlight if his time at Clyde was being voted man of the match in their shock Scottish Cup win over Celtic. An injury hit couple of years at Millwall followed before returning to Scotland. A spell in the SPL with St.Mirren was the highlight and he also played for Dundee, Stirling Albion and Queen of the South before dropping into the junior ranks with Irvine Meadow.

Kevin Morrison:- Some supporters will remember Kevin from the “Blue Heaven” TV series. He was the only sub used on the night coming on for Darryl Duffy in the ninetieth minute. He had always been on the fringes of the youth team that season making a few substitute appearances. On leaving Rangers he had a short spell at East Stirling.

Anton Nugent:- Backup goalkeeper Anton only started a handful of games for the youth team that season, he did play in the first tie at Girvan and I seem to recall he saved a penalty but I may be wrong. On leaving Rangers he had spells at Doncaster Rovers, Stirling Albion, East Stirling and Dumbarton before playing for several Junior clubs with a spell at Albion Rovers sandwiched in between.

Gary Martin:- My memories of Gary are a bit vague and I needed a prompt to spark any real recall. He was a fairly regular member of the squad that season mainly featuring from the bench. I believe he had a spell at Clyde on leaving Rangers.

Brian McLean:- As one of the younger members of the squad his time as a youth team regular would come a wee bit later. Never made the first team but played in the Premier League with Motherwell, Falkirk, Dundee United and Ross County. He also had a spell in England with Preston North End, in Iceland with IBV and two spells with Brunei club DPMM FC who play in Singapore League. He also played for Hibernian, Dumbarton and is currently at Morton. Capped at youth level for Scotland he changed his football allegiance to Northern Ireland, playing in a friendly against Estonia. His father Stuart made over five hundred appearances for Kilmarnock and Rangers provided the opposition for his testimonial in January 1990. His brother is grade 1 referee Steven McLean.

John Adam:- Another fringe player I have a few problems recalling, he played and scored in the first two rounds. After Rangers he had spells at Morton, Montrose and Australian side Green Gully Cavaliers. He then returned to the Scotland and played for a few junior clubs.

John Adam turning out for Glenafton

Looking at the Ayr United side most of them had careers in the junior ranks but a couple had decent senior careers.

Stewart Kean achieved the most making almost sixty Premier League appearances for St. Mirren. As well as Ayr United, he also played for Queen of the South, Morton and Stenhousemuir.

Former Rangers academy player Scott Chaplain played for six Scottish clubs, coming close to four hundred senior games. His peak time was two years in the Championship with Partick Thistle. He is currently Head Coach for Scotland’s National Futsal squad.

Willie Lyle clocked up well over a hundred senior appearances for four clubs before dropping into the juniors. Peaking at League One level with Stenhousemuir for three seasons.

They also had two Northern Irish youngsters, Aaron Black from Larne and Aidan McVeigh from Glenavon. Black made a significant number of appearances for Ayr United before returning to play for a few Irish League Clubs, with McVeigh returning to Glenavon.