Features & Blogs (122)
Two games, American humour, and the madness that is High school sports. My second month in the United States.
Even though I’ve tried to embrace it, I can’t say that I’m a fan of American Football, but it felt great being back watching live sport with a bit of atmosphere. After watching this American football game, I decided that it was probably time for me to try and embrace the culture a bit more by actually throwing around a Football, but I can safely say that it’s not for me.
With Kilmarnock’s Eamonn Brophy underperforming up top, is there room for this young star to jump in?
Hailing from Alexandria, Innes Cameron could be Kilmarnock’s next answer up front. In his short professional tenure, the 20 year old has picked up international experience and a fair amount of opportunities for clubs.
After working up the ranks at Kilmarnock to their reserve squad, Cameron got loaned out to Scottish League Two’s Stranraer FC. In his only season at the club, Cameron managed to score 10 goals in 29 appearances at the club including 22 league starts and a debut strike for the club.
When he got back to Killie’s reserve squad, he was promoted to the first team for this season, but with Eamonn Brophy and Nicke Kabamba being Alex Dyer’s main men up top, first team opportunities may be hard to come by for the 20 year old.
In 2017, Cameron represented his country, he managed to get into the Scotland U17 squad for 4 games, which included 1 start and 3 substitute appearances. Cameron got a goal for the U17 squad, bagging one against the Faroe Islands in a 2-0 win in the UEFA U17 European Championship.
Standing at about 6 foot 3 inches, Cameron is good in the air, he plays like a classic striker from the past, he plays as a poacher, and like a good poacher, he capitalises on his chances. He does have versatility to his game too, he’s slotted into the attacking midfield and as a centre forward on occasion.
Innes Cameron is hoping to impress Dyer in training and wants to break into the first team, which is his aim when he spoke to the Daily Record. Cameron is also willing to take his time to break into the starting XI, he said: “even if it takes another season of coming off the bench or going out on loan, then I’ll do what I can”. He wants to make his mark and make his name known to the Kilmarnock hierarchy.
If he can’t break into the first team regularly, then he will be sent out on loan to prove his worth to the Kilmarnock staff and become a name you will not want to look over.
Don’t be surprised if you see the name “Innes Cameron” amongst the SPL’s top scorers within the next few seasons!
A player who earned a glowing reference in Scottish football last season was Chris Hamilton of Hearts. He spent last season out on loan at Cowdenbeath where he made 23 appearances for the League Two side before Scottish football came to a halt due to COVID-19. Now the young centre back has joined Dumbarton on a loan deal until January. Luke Mazoyer reports.
Chris Hamilton, 19, joined Hearts youth academy aged 8, from local club Crossgates, and in 2019 penned a 3-year extension with the Jambos. So far in his career he has had loan spells at Berwick Rangers and Cowdenbeath before making the loan move to Dumbarton.
In the 17/18 season, Hamilton was handed his senior debut along with many other Hearts youth players away to Kilmarnock. Although they lost 1-0, it was great to see the youngsters who are coming through the Hearts academy getting their chance.
Just weeks after receiving his Hearts debut the talented defender was called up to the Scotland under-21s squad after impressing manager Scott Gemmill with performances. He came off the bench in a 1-0 win against France under-21s at the Toulon Tournament- a brilliant achievement for the youngster being just 16 at the time and the youngest in the squad.
It is fair to say Chris Hamilton has done well for Hearts reserves, too. The captain of the side; he lead his team to the SPFL Reserve Cup final in 2018/19 in which they faced Motherwell Reserves. Hearts took the game by the scruff of the neck and beat Motherwell 2-0 in the final at Tynecastle to be crowned champions.
This season Chris has a new challenge to look forward to in League One with Dumbarton. After becoming in a mainstay in the Cowdenbeath XI, it is time for him to take it up a level.
The former Beath High School pupil played the majority of his games in the middle of defence for Cowdenbeath last season, but he has also been tried in each full back position whilst taking up a role in midfield on the odd occasion.
With Dumbarton confirming the signing of the Scottish under 21 defender, manager Jim Duffy had only positives things to say about this bit of business. “Chris earned very positive reviews from his time with Cowdenbeath last season and we’re looking forward to seeing how he does here.”
“He’s young, but has a real appetite for the game and is determined to push on. That really ticks a box for us and he will increase competition for places.” It is clear from the manager’s comments that he is excited to see what the young defender can bring to the table this season for The Sons.
Chris Hamilton’s strongest attribute would have to be his tackling, his aggression to bulldoze through and win 50-50’s against his opponent. But that’s not to say he is an old school defender. The youngster has a very good range of passing and is good in the air despite being 5ft 7ins tall. He was a very key part of the Hearts Reserve team in 2019 when they swooped the SPFL reserve cup.
What has got Chris this far is his willingness to work hard. He is highly rated at Hearts and Scotland so his recent loan move to Dumbarton looks to be a good move for his career. Hamilton is certainly one to keep your eye on this season, if he can help Dumbarton gain promotion, he may give Robbie Nielson something to think about next year.
(Image taken from Heart of Midlothian website)
1. Stateside Update
Over the past few weeks, YFS has been reporting on the success stories of young Scottish footballers heading to the US to play 'soccer', with the help of Future Pro USA.
This week was no different as Thomas Gray was able to get vital game time before the start of his season with William Carey University. His university faced fellow mid-west side, Mississippi Gulf Coast College, in a pre-season match, where the Kinross-born defender was able to get 85 mins under his belt, ahead of the upcoming season.
There are Future Pro USA assessment event dates coming up later in the month, at Spartans Academy and Clyde’s Broadwood Stadium. Placements at Spartans are full but you can be added to the waiting list, and there are limited places for the assessment event taking place at Broadwood.
2. League Football Returns... Sort Of...
With youth teams waiting for over six months to return to football, last weekend would have certainly been circled in the diaries and calendars of young players up and down the country. Sadly, in typical Scottish fashion, the weather played the villain of the story with many games being called off due to waterlogged pitches. For many teams next weekend will be the beginning of their seasons.
However there were some who braved the conditions. Continuing the trend of emphatic victories last weekend, were Murieston Utd put nine past Gartcairn and Kirkfield, who put in a fine display, in a 5-0 away victory over East Calder.
3. Morven's Return to Training
There will be many young players who got the chance to play this week, weather permitting, who would’ve been very glad to get back on the pitch and play the sport they love, but none more so than a young St Cadocs Youth Club player who returned to training this week. Morven, aged 7, was diagnosed with having a tumour in her eye back in January of this year.
After long term treatment, the young player made a return to her sport and was given a guard of honour from her teammates and coaches at St Cadocs Youth Club.
You can watch the incredible video on the @StCadocsYC Twitter page by clicking here.
4. Scotland Age-Grade Keeper Makes The Bench
Although Dundee United lost to Livingston in an uninspiring 2-1 defeat, there was at least something positive to take away from the game. Their young Scottish goalkeeper, Jack Newman made the bench for the first time in a Premier League match. Newman was brought in this season after being let go by Sunderland. The aim for his arrival is to develop his goalkeeping skills under goalkeeping teammates; Siegrist and Mehmet and to gain valuable insight from former Scotland goalkeeper Neil Alexander, who is at United as a goalkeeping coach.
Alexander had this to say about Newman’s arrival: "He is a very good young Scotland U18’s goalkeeper with loads of potential who I’m looking forward to working with over the next few years and, hopefully, a future number one for the club."
Siegrist missed last Friday’s match against Livingston, which let Newman make the bench. Maybe this is a name that we will be seeing in the starting lineup in a couple years time, with the young keeper winning a call-up to the Scotland U19’s who have two friendlies against England at St George’s Park.
5. Young Scot makes Newcastle Bench
From St George's Park to St James' - and Ryan Fraser wasn't the Scot to look out for.
17-year-old midfielder Elliot Anderson made the bench for the first time, as Newcastle took on Newport County in the Carabao Cup. The game went to penalties after a 1-1 draw, which the Magpies then won 5-4 on penalties. Although the youngster didn't make it onto the pitch, it's an encouraging sign after his development in the under-23s.
He signed his first pro deal in November last year, and looks on track to continue progressing through the Scotland age-grade set-up.
Clyde have added another promising youngster to their squad for the upcoming season, teen’ midfielder Lloyd Robertson. Matthew Muir reports.
Born on 13 January 2001, Robertson went to Aberdeen Grammar School as he worked his way up the youth system at the Dons’ while also graduating from their Academy and securing a place in Paul Sheerin’s reserve squad until his release in June of this year.
On Robertson’s graduation from the AFC Youth Academy in 2018, Head of Youth Academy, Neil Simpson said, “Lloyd can play right back, centre back or in midfield. He is a very composed player, a good user of the ball, reads the game well and is a very solid defender.”
Under the management of Paul Sheerin, who played for the Dons’ between 2002-2004, Robertson was part of the side who narrowly missed out on the Youth Cup Final in 2019, as they got knocked out at the semi-final by Rangers.
After being released from the Reds, 19-year-old Robertson has now signed for the League One side having put pen to paper on a one-year-deal on Sunday.
Robertson has already been part of silverware for the Cumbernauld side as they lifted the first-ever inaugural NLL Broadwood Cup this weekend, beating St. Mirren Colts and Stirling Albion to be crowned winners.
On signing Robertson, speaking to the Clyde FC website, Bully Wee boss, Danny Lennon said: "We are pleased to have signed Lloyd from Aberdeen. He is a player we believe has a great deal of potential to develop into a quality defensive midfielder, while also being equally comfortable playing in the back four.”
The Aberdeen Academy graduate isn’t the first youngster ex-St. Mirren boss Lennon has signed during the summer transfer window, having also secured loan deals for St. Mirren’s Josh Jack and Jay Henderson, as well as Matthew Shiels from Glasgow Rangers.
Lennon concluded by saying: “We look forward to continuing his (Robertson’s) football education and harnessing his energy here at Clyde."
We wish Lloyd and all at Clyde well for the upcoming season!
1. European Tour
16-year-old Max Johnston and 17-year-old Matthew Connolly emphasised the success of Motherwell’s youth academy, as the pair were named in the 23-man squad who travelled to Israel for their Europa League encounter against Hapoel Be’er-Sheva.
Despite not featuring in the tie, the experience alone will be invaluable to both. Being included at such a young age speaks volumes for both their talent but also the work of the Youth Academy at Motherwell, who have produced some of the brightest Scottish talent such as David Turnbull, James Scott, Jake Hastie and many more.
Despite an impressive first half display where Motherwell matched their Israeli counterparts and had opportunities to take the lead, they were defeated 3-0 after captain Declan Gallagher’s red card allowed Hapoel to take advantage.
2. Star at Selhurst
Former Linlithgow Rose CFC and Dundee United youngster Scott Banks netted twice and added an assist on his debut for Crystal Palace in Premier League 2 at Selhurst Park.
Scott equalised for Palace after an in-swinging corner was poorly cleared, which fell to the winger, who slotted his strike past the keeper. He equalised again in the 65th minute when he fired home his penalty, sending the keeper the wrong way.
The attacking midfielder joined Palace from Dundee United after a loan spell at Clyde where they became the League One Play-off champions. After his loan spell this season at Alloa was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Scott returns to Selhurst Park and will play for Palace’s under-23 squad this season.
3. Wasps Debuts
Congratulations to both Alloa youngsters Lucas Williamson and Liam Evans who both made their first team Alloa debuts in a friendly against Stranraer. The pair started from the bench but made their impact in the second half.
Alloa’s youth players shined with three Academy graduates combining to create and score Alloa’s third goal. Williamson and Evans linked up the play before slipping in Cameron O’Donnell who netted in Alloa’s 3-1 win.
Alloa’s Community Football Department said on Twitter: “As part of the AAFC Development Pathway, Wasp Community Club players are in the right place to follow in their footsteps.”
4. Newburgh Fundraiser
It was a special night for Newburgh Juniors on Friday as they have raised an incredible £2,588.70 throughout their pre-season campaign. The immense level of generosity will help support the club through what is currently a very turbulent time for football clubs at all levels, with uncertainty around matches being played.
The club said on Twitter: “Just Wow!!! Can not say how thankful we all are.”
Newburgh Juniors will begin their league campaign against East Fife CFC next weekend.
5. Friendlies Continue to Return
YFS were delighted to head along to a few more friendlies this weekend, as leagues edge closer and closer to their starting dates.
Our photographer Kelly Neilson was at Rossvale Girls as they took on West Park United! You can see her snaps by clicking here.
We also had another resident snapper, Liliana Paterson, at Edinburgh City vs Currie Star! Her pictures are available here.
With so many great young talented full-backs coming through the ranks in the Scottish game, there is healthy competition for who can move from their respective academies to play in some of the top leagues in Europe.
Players such as Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney and more recently Aaron Hickey have all worked hard to earn their opportunities and are living the dream.
Along with previous full back Hot Prospects mentioned by other reporters (Josh Doig, Leon McCann, Josh Reid) having great ambition to succeed in football, 16-year-old Dunfermline full-back Miller Fenton is no different.
Miller, who attended Queen Anne High School in Dunfermline, signed his first professional contract for the Pars in November 2019 and has been involved with Dunfermline’s reserve team ever since.
Miller started his playing career at Elgin Star 2003s, where he spent many years playing 7-a-side and then proceeding to 11-a-side. With Miller being a real stand-out in this Elgin side, he then was scouted by Fife Elite who he impressed the previous season.
Miller spent around 3 years playing for Fife Elite in a pro-youth program against the country’s best youth talent before getting a real chance to prove himself in the SPFL Reserve League at the age of 15 for Dunfermline.
In a recent interview with Miller himself, he stated that since signing for the Pars, coaches Stevie Crawford, Greg Shields and Jason Dair have been instrumental in his recent development as a player.
“They have all been great…they are very easy to approach if you have any problems or questions. They demand the best out of me and praise me when it’s due…they always expect a high standard from everyone…always giving me tips on how to defend…since coming in full-time I’ve become a much better player.”
A game that stands out in Miller’s young career so far was a reserve game against Celtic back in October 2019. Having just turned 16 a few weeks prior to the match, Miller was given a golden chance to prove himself.
Going into the game, Miller already knew he was going to have a real task on his hands against a strong Celtic side - but to make things more difficult for him he had to mark one of Scotland’s best young talents; Karamoko Dembele.
After a 1-0 defeat at East End Park, Miller picked up Man of the Match in the eyes of coach, Greg Shields, who was very impressed by Miller’s performance.
Shields noted after the game: “To play someone who just turned 16 last Wednesday, it excites me. He did really well playing against Dembele. I thought he snuffed him out…he can hold his head high cause he was outstanding.”
Miller commented on playing against Dembele: “I had played against him before so I had an idea of what he was going to do…I was ready to do anything to try stop him…I just treated it like I was playing against any other winger.
Following on from this great individual performance, Miller continued to impress in the Reserve league before he gained himself a place on the Dunfermline first team’s bench on multiple occasions.
After the 19/20 season was cut short due to COVID-19, Miller will be looking to impress manager Stevie Crawford during pre-season in the lead up to the start of the Betfred Cup and the 20/21 league campaign.
“My goal this season is to play, it’s the only way I’ll get better," he said.
"I’m ready to play and also ready to fight for the left back position…if I work hard enough and impress I’ll get game time.
Miller's aspirations for the future indicate what he wants to achieve in the game he loves: “I think everyone’s dream is to get a national call up at whatever age…I just take it as it comes and will wait and see how the upcoming season goes.”
With the same attitude and determination that Miller has had since the moment he started playing football, this writer has no doubt that the left-back will eventually break into the Pars first team and be a stand out within it.
(All images credited to dafc.co.uk)
In a hectic week for Scottish football, both on and off the field, here are some of the exciting new stories you may have missed from YFS.
1. Stateside Update
Former Vale Community player Caden Beaton lined up for Grand View against Iowa State yesterday at the Luhrs Athletic Complex.
The Scot is one of many footballers who travelled to the United States this summer to play college soccer - including YFS' own Joe McInnes, who we will be hearing from later this week.
Caden was making his debut for the JV side - also known as 'junior varsity' - which is usually comprised of players in their first two years of university.
Currently, there are still free assessments day scheduled to return to Edinburgh in October. Find out more by clicking here.
2. Josh Adam on the Move
Another youngster has left Celtic Park for greener pastures - if you'll pardon the pun.
Following the departure of Barry Hepburn to Bayern Munich, fellow Celtic youth Josh Adam has joined Manchester City.
The midfielder caught the eye of clubs across England and Europe with a Player of the Tournament performance at the Marc Overmars tournament in the Netherlands.
Confirming the news on his Instragram page, @joshadam10, the Scotland age grade star wrote: "Happy to finally announce that I have signed with @ManCity. Can't wait for the new season."
3. Debut for Carlo Pignatiello
Livingston's 20-year-old finally made his debut for the West Lothian club, coming on for the final few minutes against league champions Celtic.
The right-back, who can also play in centre-midfield, was on loan at Stranraer last season and has also spent time at BSC Glasgow. He originally came through the youth systems at Rangers and St Mirren before signing for Livi in 2018.
Declan Glass of Dundee United also made a long-awaited Premiership debut, whilst 17-year-old pair Adam MacKinnon and Matthew Wright were once again on the bench for Ross County.
Well done boys - hopefully the first of many!
4. Cambuslang Colts Hit the Road
It's been a busy week in Cambuslang! After one of the most impressive kit launches in Scotland - including the pro teams! - they hit the road for their sponsored walk.
Six age-grade sides from the club walked to the three biggest stadiums in Glasgow - Celtic Park, Ibrox, and Hampden Park.
The team are building up funds to go to Blackpool next season. You can donate by clicking here.
5. YFS' new camera and handbooks
The YFS VEO camera was out and about again this weekend in it's second outing. The new equipment will allow for as many friendlies as possible to be covered, which can offer players, coaches and parents the opportunity to rewatch all the best moments from their team's games.
If you've got a friendly coming up, we'd love to be there. Let us know by filling in the following form here!
YFS is also excited to bring you a brand-new product as the new season approaches. The new handbooks are aimed at teams that are looking for an impressive visual online information point alongside their own social media, without the issues of keeping a website up to date.
There will be both digital and print editions which will showcase the squad, kit and home pitch. The club’s own videos will be embedded within the pages. Each handbook is bespoke to your team and is a prime position for club sponsors.
Early starts, full-time training, and roasting hot weather - that was my first month in the United States.
It's been a month since I switched my hometown of Airdrie for Union, Missouri in midwest America, where I've started to attend East Central College.
My initial experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I have effectively been living my dream as a professional athlete, training five days a week, whilst studying to earn a degree. It has been everything that I hoped it would be.
- My day usually begins just before 7am, when I get ready and eat breakfast before leaving for the college just before 8am.
- Depending on the day I either go straight to my first class, go to the library to get some homework done (we are required as student-athletes to spend at least five hours studying in the library), or head to the gym to get a workout in. Following that, I go to the rest of that day’s classes. My classes finish, at the latest, by 1:20 pm on any given day.
- After that, it’s a trip back home to eat lunch and relax before our team training session. After completing our Covid-19 symptoms check we head to training which starts at 3:15 pm on weekdays, unless we have a friendly, in which case we get the following day off.
- While it varies from day-to-day, our training sessions usually consist of a warm-up, followed by groups of rondo boxes, some tactical work on shape, attacking scenarios, then finishing our session with a 10 v 10 game.
- One thing which is instantly noticeable about training in America is the obscene heat some days, which leads to increased water breaks, but like everything else you get used to it.
- Post-training, we have a team cool-down and stretch, then back home. Once we arrive home at around 5:15pm, it’s time for a shower then onto dinner. From about 6-10:30 pm I have free time which is usually taken up by keeping up with homework and studying. After that, it’s time for bed.
On Monday 14th (or 9/14 as they say), we played our first friendly against Missouri Baptist University’s reserve side. After my normal morning/afternoon routine we all arrived at the college for 1:45pm where we had our temperatures taken prior to going on the bus.
After having our temperatures taken again on departing the bus, we entered the changing rooms at the superb, newly renovated Missouri Baptist University Stadium.
As we were warming up, one of the first things that caught my eye was the giant scoreboard in the corner of the stadium, which was showing a countdown to kick-off, something a bit different which you don’t see at your standard Saturday morning game. After a decent team performance and a goal for myself, we ran-out 3-1 winners in extremely warm conditions.
After re-boarding the bus, we went for our inaugural post-match meal together, as we continue to gel as a squad. Following that we re-boarded the bus for the hour-long journey back to the college, followed by the short trip home.
There are definitely some differences between collegiate soccer and youth football back home.
The general professionalism and seriousness in which matches are taken came as a pleasant change, as before the game we were all shown and sent a copy of the starting line-up, with our attacking shape, defensive shape, and set-piece duties.
A slightly stranger one is the way in which the clock works. In college soccer, the clock counts down from 45 minutes, rather than the traditional counting up. The clock is also paused by the referee for any lengthy pause to the game. When the clock runs out in each half there is a loud buzzer sound signalling the end of the half/game. Most teams also bring large squads to matches, as roll-on subs are allowed, so you get used to seeing multiple substitutions at one-time.
The thing which I’ve enjoyed most so far has to be training five times a week, as playing football every day has always been a dream for me, and now that we’re training every day I am loving it and can feel myself improving at a faster rate. Another great thing is the on-campus gym, which is free to use at any time, and using it is a great way to improve my on-field performance.
After a great first month, I can’t wait to see what the coming month offers. With another friendly lined up, continuing to train full-time, and more great weather expected what’s not to like?
It was a busy week for grassroots football as matches returned for the first time in nearly six months, but here are five things you may have missed amidst the buzz:
1. Scotland Win First Post-Lockdown Youth International
Scotland U21s defeated Lithuania U21s 1-0 in the first post-lockdown Scottish Youth International match. Motherwell midfielder Allan Campbell provided the only goal of the game as his late winner saw Scotland climb to third place in their U21s Euros Qualifying group.
Scot Gemmill’s side sit four points behind leaders Czech Republic, with a game in hand, as the young team look to end their 25-year absence from a Euro Under 21s Finals.
2. Bo’ness United Community FC hold Charity Crossbar Challenge
Bo’ness United Community FC took part in a sponsored Tartan-themed Crossbar Challenge as part of the Kilwalk’s virtual weekend.
Over the course of the week, 250 kids participated during their regular training times, to adhere to government guidelines, and have already raised £2796.08. You can donate here.
The YFS cameras were also there to capture the action on the first day of the event. You can view the full gallery here.
3. Kyle Munro Off the Mark for Accies
Kyle Munro continued his impressive progression amongst the Hamilton Accies ranks as the winger bagged his first goal for the club at the weekend.
The 18-year-old made his debut for the Lanarkshire club before the international break, coming on as a substitute against Rangers.
Munro then made his first professional start against Livingston at the weekend before heading home the winner for his side 85 minutes later.
4. Scots in the States Update
Callum Bissett has enjoyed an incredible introduction to student athlete life in the States.
The youngster arrived alongside fellow Scots to his own branded changing locker and a mountain of Adidas kit. He was then initiated and began his official college classes before impressing with a 15.6 score in the bleep test.
Bissett continued his busy month with media duties and a squad photoshop in preparation for his first pre-season friendly match.
Everyone at YFS would like to wish Callum the best of luck for the season and look forward to bringing coverage of Scots in the States when the season begins!
Our Future Pro USA assessment days return in October. Book your free space here.
5. YFS Match Coverage Returns
Grassroots matches returned this weekend, meaning YFS coverage of matches could also return. However, due to restrictions and guidelines in place as a result of COVID-19, your YFS cameraman may look a little different now.
Our Veo cameras were deployed across the nation to provide coverage for grassroots games whilst respecting the SFA ‘Return to Football’ guidelines.
Would you like your match to be filmed? Get in touch now @ http://yfs.news.returntofootballcoverage
One name that cropped up in the midst of the 19/20 SPFL season was that of Stephen Welsh, highly-rated Celtic FC academy graduate and modern day ball-playing centre back. John Woods took a look deeper into what makes Stephen such an exciting prospect for the future.
Welsh, 20, is from Coatbridge and has spent many years in the Celtic Academy, signing his first professional contract in 2016 - a deal that saw him commit to Celtic until 2019.
In the 18/19 season, Welsh won the Glasgow Cup as part of the Celtic reserve team who defeated Rangers 3-2 in the dramatic final at their home stadium, Celtic Park.
Soon after, he moved to Morton on loan - a good opportunity for vital minutes of experience.
Under the management of ex-Chelsea player David Hopkin, Welsh made 18 appearances before the loan being cut short to bring him back to Celtic.
In his months at Morton, Welsh featured at both right-back and centre-back in a mixture of formations that included back threes and fours. However, Celtic predominantly see him as a centre-half despite Welsh admitting: “I’m happy to play anywhere because it will make me a more versatile player for the future and it can be something I have up my sleeve when I go back to Celtic”.
Welsh’s willingness to develop his game and learn as much about his role on the pitch, coupled with his excellent reading of the match, is what makes Celtic coaches believe in his potential.
His keenness to get on the ball, and his comfort with it at his feet, makes him the ideal player for any modern day team. Importantly, alongside these attributes, Welsh also loves a tackle and has excellent defensive awareness.
The blond-haired defender has also had the opportunity to showcase his talents on the international stage, as he has represented Scotland at both under-17 and under-19 level and undoubtedly will make the step up to the under-21s very soon.
With 21 Scotland age-grade appearances, it is clear that Welsh is a talent, but his real breakthrough into the football world was his competitive debut that fell against Hamilton on 2nd February, 2020.
Welsh was recalled from his loan spell to Cappielow due to an injury to Celtic defender Jozo Simunovic, and promptly started the fixture against Hamilton - which finished 4-1 to the Celts.
He played a total of 76 minutes before being replaced by Tom Rogic. Despite not finishing the game, Welsh won over the Celtic support with one fan (@mel9samaras on twitter) saying:
“Thought Stephen Welsh was excellent today. Looked the most composed of all the defenders."
Now contracted with the Hoops until at least 2023, Welsh has impressed in Celtic’s pre-season tour of France and will no doubt be hoping his name crops up on the team sheet many more times throughout the coming season.
Keep your eyes peeled as Welsh is assuredly one for the future and a name we will be seeing far more often in the coming few seasons.
Last weekend, Scottish youth football was given the green light to play friendly matches for the first time since March - when all football was put on hold due to COVID-19.
On Saturday 12th September, six months after the enforced cancellation, an eager Dumbarton United 2005s faced off against Clydebank FC at the Mountblow pitches in Clydebank, in a game that ended 1-1.
The goals came by way of a well-struck free-kick from Clydebank’s number 9, Ben Vine
and a delightful chipped finish from Dumbarton United’s number 6, Murdo Burch, both in the second-half.
However, the result was not important, as it was great to see the players making a welcome return to action.
The game was very different from a reporting/spectating view. Not being able to go near the action and standing outside of the fenced pitch, not being able to interact and properly interview players, coaches and the referee.
This ‘new normal’ will be very strange to get used to for everyone in football, but the most important thing is that all players, coaches and spectators are safe and that youth football has returned, despite only being for pre-season at the moment - most leagues across the country have varying starting dates ranging from September until the end of October.
We spoke to players, coaches and the referee after the game via social media and email to ask their thoughts on the return to football, the changes and challenges which they face in the new normal and how it felt to be back at football games.
Dumbarton United’s captain, Vincent Neill told YFS: ”I was really excited to play because we’d been working hard at training for a while without any notice of when games would return.
“Personally, I thought it was great to get back even though it wasn’t competitive.
“There were not any massive changes in my usual routine however it was odd not to shake hands with the referee at the beginning of the match, or to shake hands with the opposition at the end of the match.
“Besides the standard social distancing measures, it was pretty similar to playing a normal match on a Saturday which was good.”
Dumbarton United’s head coach, David Lavery echoed his captain’s sentiments: “It felt great being back in action today… I woke up buzzing for the game.
“You could see in how the boys started the game today how much they were up for it. Six months is a long time to not have played a game, so it was very pleasing to see the boys back on the pitch again.
“Being in lockdown and then not being able to play has been so hard for them both physically and with their mental health.
“The attitude since we have come back has been amazing and that’s because the boys realised how much they missed their football.
“Adapting to the new measures has been weird but we are doing everything right not just as a team but as a club and it’s important that the boys feel safe in the environment we have at training and at games.
“I know that parents and maybe some of the boys were anxious about coming back but it’s the new normal now.
“If we want football to continue then it’s important we are all doing our bit to ensure we are following the rules that have been put in place.”
Clydebank’s coach, Kenny Vine told us his view on the game and changes: “It was great to
finally have a game after six months. Coaches and players alike were excited to get on the field today.
“The changes didn’t make too much of a difference to the match in general. It's the build-up and after the match which is difficult with no changing rooms and shaking hands. Turn up, play and go home.
“It’s not ideal but we’ll take it if it means we can play.”
In conclusion, the changes were of course noticeable but didn’t totally change the flow of the game. When speaking to those involved and thinking about my experience at the game, it seemed that the experience was a positive one that will hopefully be improved as restrictions are lifted more across the country.
This is the first step on a long journey to the eventual destination that is football at all levels across the country having full-capacity crowds.
Scotland have a newly-formed trait for having top quality left backs: Andy Robertson, Kieran Tierney and previous hot prospects Josh Reid and Matthew Shiels. Today is no different, as we look at one of Airdrieonians’ key men - Leon McCann.
Born on the 16th of March 2000, Leon started off in the pro-youth system with Hamilton Academical aged 13 while attending Braidhurst High School. Being part of such a prolific academy let him fly through the ranks and he quickly became a key part of Accies youth set-up.
When Leon signed for the Diamonds the first time round – on loan at the start of the 19/20 season - his new manager Ian Murray made comment on how the Hamilton youth system doesn’t just provide Hamilton with an advantage.
“Hamilton’s model is to bring young players in to the team and sell them on,” he said, “and is these boys [Leon McCann and other signing Charlie Reilly] can help us out while gaining a bit of first team experience, it can only be a benefit to us.”
The pinnacle of McCann’s spell with Hamilton was undoubtedly captaining the under-19’s in the 18/19 edition of the UEFA Youth League. The team would have a total of four games playing abroad in Switzerland and Denmark.
The team went up against Champions League regulars FC Basel from Switzerland, narrowly winning 3-2 in a penalty shootout, before FC Midtjylland proved to be too strong for them as the Accies lost 3-1 on aggregate.
McCann has also featured for Scotland at youth level. He made his debut for the under-19’s against Poland in a 4-3 loss., back in September 2018. The game was just a friendly but the side included Rangers’ Glenn Middleton, Celtic’s Ewan Henderson, and Hearts’ Andy Irving.
Upon initially signing for Airdrie, Leon said: “Playing every week was a big attraction for me so hopefully I can keep doing that.”
The defender was a huge asset on his loan spell with the Diamonds, to the point where he signed an 18-month contract three days after his initial loan deal ended in January of this year.
Leon had so much success in the past season, that in the end of season awards at Airdrie he won Players Young Player of the Season and Young Player of the Season. No wonder when Airdrie boss Ian Murray rates him very highly!
“Leon possesses a great amount of pace and has a great delivery,” his gaffer continued.
Leon isn’t just a player too, but also a coach. The youngster has joined up with newly formed 1-2-1 coaching business JRB Soccer Skills Academy to help give back to the game.
Although with all of his past success, Leon is only 20 and by the end of this season wants to get promoted with Airdrie to the Championship - agoal for players, staff and supporters alike.
With the season aiming to start in October, Leon is going to be a busy man with his coaching and playing, but it will definitely be a season to enjoy for Leon and the rest of Airdrie too.
Leon is certainly one too keep an eye on and soon could be making a move to the big time.
Clyde have snapped up young Rangers prospect Matthew Shiels on loan. To find out more about the latest Hot Prospect, YFS’ Matthew Muir reports.
Born on 13 September 2000 in Glasgow, Shiels built his football career by joining the Glasgow Rangers and by gradually moving up the ranks, from the under-17/under-19s to the ‘B’ team, he has established himself as an Academy talent and a young asset to the club.
As well as being part of the Academy squad, the Light Blue left-back has benefitted from loans to Edinburgh City and Dumbarton F.C.
Most recently, he also had a short spell at Californian club, Orange County S.C in a partnership with Rangers, albeit cut short by COVID-19.
With 10 international caps at Scotland U-19 level, he has now joined the League One side, who are hoping to push further up the league after establishing themselves in the third tier last season.
On a loan deal until the end of the season, with Rangers retaining a recall option in January, Shiels will be hoping he can obtain first-team experience as part of Danny Lennon’s squad, with the club preparing to kick off their competitive campaign at home to Dumbarton in the Betfred Cup in October.
On finalising the loan of the 19-year-old, Bully Wee boss Danny Lennon said,
“Matthew is a young man with bags of potential to do well in football and he can continue his excellent progress with hard work and focused application at Clyde this season.
"We look forward to playing our part in his development as a quality left back.
"He has 10 caps at under-19 International level and, crucially, he has already had experience of first team football on loan at Edinburgh City two seasons ago and at Dumbarton last season.
"We want to thank Rangers for their cooperation and trust in loaning Matthew to Clyde."
With the Broadwood sides’ competitive season just under two months away, Shiels will be hoping he can continue his development with Clyde coaching duo Danny Lennon and Allan Moore in an effort to continue his highly positive career so far and push into becoming an established first-team footballer.