“We look to ourselves as a kind of school of excellence outside of the pro-youth set up,” said Craig Patterson, coach of Crosshouse BC 2006s. “We’re always looking to produce the best players and the best teams that we possibly can and we’ve got a pretty good record of doing that.”
From a small East Ayrshire village, Crosshouse are fast developing a strong reputation in the SYFA South West Region as a leading developer of young talent. Over recent seasons numerous players have gone on to grace the pro-youth sides of Ayr United, Celtic, Kilmarnock and Rangers – and Patterson expects more to follow.
“The club sets high standards throughout. The success the club has had attracts coaches and players alike,” Patterson said.
The Lindsay Park club have won the SYFA Scottish Cup three times in recent years, with the under-16s triumphing in 2005, the under-17s in 2006 and the under-15s in 2015, when Connor Smith’s dramatic late winner completed his hat trick and sealed an extraordinary 4-3 victory over Renfrew Victoria at Airdrieonians’ Excelsior Stadium after a pulsating 90 minutes of football.
So what is the secret to their success? The club’s emphasis upon an unusual approach to squad discipline might have something to do with it.
“We’re asking their parents how they’re behaving and if there’s any particular child that goes a couple at weeks misbehaving at home, showing a lack of respect to their parents then we’ll suspend them for the weekend’s game,” said Patterson.
“Discipline is very important within our club and we strive to install a code of conduct from the boys. Everything from tucking in tops to quietly listening when coaches are talking is focused on from day one.
"Respect is a big part of what we try to teach and we encourage the boys to take that attitude into all aspects of their lives. While we never actively look to ban them from football it can act as a good deterrent.”
Nevertheless, Crosshouse’s coaches are anything but kill-joys. According to Patterson, their focus is on ensuring players enjoy their football and develop as individuals.
“Enjoyment and development are essential in what we try to achieve with the boys. Our aim is to develop the boys both with football but also in their social development.
"We try to produce excellent players but with a good team ethic and a healthy respect for others. If we can do that while still promoting a fun atmosphere then we are happy.”
President Damien McClelland, active with the club for nearly a decade, agrees. “Our club isn’t just about the football; it’s about making friends through the sport you enjoy. We hope all our players go on to be successful and well-rounded young adults with a good and positive attitude,” he said.
McClelland is also very proud of Crosshouse’s record of sportsmanship and charitable fundraising. “Many of our younger teams have won fair play awards, which again goes to show how our players are coached in the game and the way they carry themselves. As a club, this is something we pride ourselves in.”