The Scottish Cup has produced a series of enthralling encounters across various age groups in recent weeks, as teams shake off the rustiness of the unforeseen winter break. This weekend sees Celtic Boys Club U21 take on Drumchapel United in the Quarter Final, as they look to improve on last years exit at the same stage and thus continue their remarkable progress since their formation in 2006.
Whilst the team itself may be relatively new, they play under one of the country's most infamous youth institutions. Celtic Boys Club has been synonymous with Celtic FC for decades, despite originally being a separate entity from the club upon its foundation in 1966. A conveyor belt of pre-dominantly Scottish youngsters have initially developed their skills with the club, before embarking on illustrious playing careers. Kenny Dalglish, Pat Nevin, Charlie Nicholas and Tom Boyd make up a lengthy list which also boasts current players such as Chris Burke, Gary Caldwell and Stephen McManus.
This particular Celtic BC team first surfaced in 2006, and have never looked back. Their inaugural season saw them enter the Cumbernauld & Kilsyth Youth Football League, which they won at the first time of asking. The following season saw them move to the Strathclyde Youth Football League, where another league title was secured. Two titles in two seasons spoke for itself, but perhaps more remarkably, they had yet to taste defeat. A two year unbeaten run also saw them lift the Loch Lomond Tournament Cup and Western Regional Cup.
The following season began with a switch to the LYFA league, yet their relentless form remained unblemished. They found themselves lifting the league trophy once again, before becoming the first team to successfully retain the Western Regional Cup. The 2009/10 season was then capped with a trip to the seaside, as they won the Blackpool Cup. Sandwiched in between were Challenge Cup and League Cup trophies, their four trophy haul making it their most successful season to date.
Heading into this weekend's tie at Drumchapel, they find themselves in a familiar situation. Ten wins in ten league games speaks for itself, the latest victory coming in a 12-0 win against Carbrain BC last Sunday.
Last season they entered the U19 Scottish Cup in which they were eliminated at the Quarter Final stage by Edinburgh United. The step up to U21 this year means they face a tougher challenge, yet they are showing little sign of regression.
The current squad, despite competing in the U21 age group, contains two 17-year olds and five at the age of 19. The young side have faired well so far, however, eliminating Petershill, South Camlachie and Johnstone Burgh en route to the Quarter Finals.
Whilst their success is down to the undenyable talent within the squad, it is also honed by a certain level of continuity which exists within the side, as it contains four of the original players who formed the team in 2006. Thomas Airlie, Ryan Pirrie, Daniel Sneddon and Christopher Brannan have all played key roles in a team which appears to improve with every season.
Defeating Drumchapel United on Saturday would represent another milestone in their short, yet highly successful history. Based on current form one would be foolish to doubt them.