The players of the South East Region Youth FA return to competitive action this afternoon ready to push for league and cup glory, or alternatively, make amends for a stuttering start to season 2012/2013.
With the league format stretching from youngsters aged 13 to the maturing adults of 21, there have been some fantastic fixtures across the city’s parks and football complexes and 2013 promises to be just as enthralling as the season enters a critical phase.
Hutchison Vale 15s are once again impressing with their results, which reflect some outstanding individual and team performances. Currently sitting third top, but with three games in hand over Division 1 leaders Leith Athletic, Hutchie have every chance of reaching their goal and taking home the league crown come the end of May.
However, despite paying tribute to coach Tam Smith who has his boys in three times a week for training, club secretary Les Trotter said achieving success wasn’t the be-all and end-all. “The extra training really helps but obviously the kids are very talented football players. They listen and are very respectful and it just seems to work for everyone.
“We want to make sure the kids have a chance to go pro-youth so it’s their development that matters. Of course we want to go on and be successful because that’s what you play football for but we are more interested in developing the kids to the best possible standard, although things are looking good for this season.
“If they feel ready and want to give pro-youth a go then that’s certainly the aim for the end of this season. A lot of clubs are interested but it’s a case of who do they want to sign for. It’s not about keeping them at Hutchie, it’s what is right for the kids that counts.”
Tynecastle 16s’ surge to the summit of Division 1 has underlined their intentions this season, a league table that reads handsomely for the Saughton-based side who have yet to taste defeat with seven victories from eight played.
Tynecastle’s Bill Crombie believes the level of fitness this year has been a key ingredient to his side’s success. “Their capabilities have always been excellent, but their fitness levels this season are unbelievable. I’ve got boys who don’t get a game every week, but they turn up to every single training session. It is hard work, but the guys I have on the coaching side – Davie Wright, Jamie Purves and Dougie Ormiston – are exceptional.
“We’ve added one or two this season, but we inherited a good team from Simon Kinghorn. We have an abundance of talent and we’re having a great season so far. We’d love to win the Scottish Cup but, for consistency over a whole season and you manage to win the league, then that’s the main one as far as I’m concerned.”
The 17s Division 2 championship is shaping up to be a real battle for league honours with Newcraighall Leith Victoria and Bonnyrigg Rose the contenders at this stage. Bonnyrigg may be one point ahead of their nearest challengers but Newcraighall have the advantage of having played three games fewer coupled with a 100 per cent record.
Newcraighall’s Kevin Millar believes his side are on track to secure the top accolade, but has also been impressed by his players’ ability to show such a level of consistency.
Millar said: “We work really hard on the training ground and the fitness levels are good with Martin Cook really working them, so I think this is paying off on a Saturday for us. The guys have got a great attitude and we are getting the results.
“I don’t think there is much between the Divisions to be honest, apart from maybe three or four teams, so at the start of the season we spoke about going for the league title and earning promotion to Division 1. There’s still a long way to go, but it would be great to have some success.”