As this summer arrived, it was time for Fletcher Hendry to wave goodbye to Hutchison Vale
Lothian Thistle. His thirteen years at the club, which he had progressed through the youth ranks at, were coming to a close.
Hutchie Vale has played an important part in the lives of many young footballers in the Lothian area, but especially for Fletcher. His two elder brothers also came through the club’s youth teams, with Taylor moving on to Hibs’ youth team and Regan now a first team player at Raith Rovers.
Reflecting on his first impressions of the club, Fletcher said: “I first joined Hutchie around the age of six or seven, so at first I didn’t realise how big the club was. As I got older and heard about the names that have played for the club it gave me an idea of how big the club was and how I needed to be at my best to stay at the club.”
Darren Fletcher, Kenny Miller and Allan McGregor are just some of the many players to have progressed from the youth teams and make it into the professional game.
“I played under a fair few coaches at the club and every one of them helped me in
my development as a person on and off the pitch,” Fletcher added.
“Hutchie is a big club that wants to succeed, and I felt that the coaches helped every player in doing that.
“I personally want to give a big thanks to LTHV club leader Tam Smith, who is an all-round great guy and I am very grateful for all that he has done to help me during my time at the club.”
Of course, credit must go to the coaches that have been involved in the Vale youth sides over the years and their role is integral in helping the players to develop and push to make it into the senior game.
They are the people spending the time getting to know the kids and help to find out the best way for each individual to progress, whilst ensuring that everyone is enjoying what they do as well as putting in the hard work.
It’s not just about football either, with the Vale coaches also wanting to improve the children’s people skills which they can then take forward into later life.
The coaches are credited with creating a positive atmosphere around the club and a unity and togetherness between the players.
“Every team I was in at Hutchie was always welcoming. Hutchie wouldn’t allow players to have a bad attitude which in my opinion was great for all of us.
“The players always had a great team spirit and helped each other during both matches and training. It was a hard- working environment which made the encouragement even better between the players.”
The hurdle that is the toughest thing for youth players to jump over is the transition from youth football to senior football. The majority of young footballers don’t get that opportunity but looking at the names to come out of the Hutchie academy you can understand that they do a great job of helping their players to take that next big step in their footballing career.
This was the case for Fletcher who was able to progress from the club’s youth ranks to the Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale first team.
He said: “From when I first joined Hutchie as a kid right up to the first team, it was a great time for me. I broke into the under-20s at a young age and I think that experience was a major help in me breaking into the first team at such a young age too.
“The transition from youth football to the first team is difficult with everyone being much older than you and you also must be a lot more physical and fit. However, I always like a challenge and I feel that I did well and have done myself proud.”
As Fletcher closes the page on his time at Hutchie Vale, a new chapter begins for him at
Tynecastle are a side that have seen Darren Fletcher, Craig Gordon and Lee Wallace all feature for them, with the latter coming back to coach them last year.
Fletcher’s new side are one that have a strong past of also producing great talent and at this
current point in time are also a quality team. The Edinburgh side are fresh off the back of being crowned 2019/20 East of Scotland Conference B champions, with the team having an
exceptional season that saw them remain unbeaten in all of the 23 league games they played as well as scoring 125 goals.
Fletcher is looking forward to the challenge and said: “I’m buzzing to see the new challenges
that face me at Tynecastle.
“It’s a great team and has a great coaching staff. Tynecastle has always been a club looking to succeed and get the best out of there players, which I know from my Hutchie days.
“There’s a lot of competition in this year’s squad which I love and is great to see. I’m just looking forward to getting back on the pitch and to be able to showcase my talent and hard work.”