Hutchison Vale’s under-19 team are on course for a trophy-laden season as they compete for seven trophies in their age group.
The famous youth club are undefeated in Division 1 with games in hand, have reached the final of the Cruden Bowl, the Bob Bankier Trophy and the South-East Region Cup – and host Salvesen today in the first round of the Division 1 League Cup.
They can also look forward to early-round ties in the Royal Edinburgh Cup and Federation of Hibs Supporters’ Cup.
Manager Alan Watson has hailed the feat and is more than confident that his team will come out the other side as victors against tough opposition.
“It’s a great achievement, to be honest,” he said. “I’m proud of the boys and they’ve done it on their merits. They go onto the park and produce the goods. They’re a fantastic set of lads and it’s going to take a very, very good team to stop us.
“No disrespect to a North Merchiston or a Musselburgh Windsor, but we pass them off the park in my eyes. I’ve got every confidence in these guys that when it comes to the nitty gritty, they’ll turn on the magic.”
They will face league rivals North Merchiston in two of those cup finals, as well as Leith Athletic whom they beat in a semi-final just last weekend. They met North Merchiston earlier in the season, winning comfortably 3-0 in the Bob Bankier Trophy.
In his second year as Hutchie boss, Watson believes that will stand them in good stead when it comes to the showdowns in the coming months.
He said: “I’ve been very impressed with North Merchiston. We have played them once this season already, at Meggetland, winning 3-0 and no disrespect to them but we didn’t really get out of second gear. When it comes to these games we seem to switch it on.
“On our day I think we are the better team, but Merchie will definitely give us a run for our money.”
Hutchie have notched over 150 goals across all competitions in this campaign so far, an impressive feat that Watson believes is produced directly from the ability of his large squad and the passing tactics they employ.
He said: “The success is down to the quality of players we have. We lost a few players for this season so we’ve brought in around ten players and had to gel them in. All the boys are very comfortable in possession, they don’t panic.
“You see a lot of boys clubs seem to lump it up and play the long ball. I’m always emphasising giving the ball to the full-backs, starting from the back and to pass our way through teams. A lot of my training drills are based on possession; two-touch passing games. I don’t do a lot of fitness work.
“There isn’t one player that stands out, they’re all technically very good in their own wee ways. However, some have more of a footballing brain than others and some have more work rate – it’s a good mix.”
The club have traditionally been a feeder club for players to professional outfits like Hibernian and Hearts, most recently striker Jason Cummings moving on to play for the Hibs under-20 side and earning appearances in the first team, as well as collecting a Scotland under-19 cap.
Watson revealed that captain Connor McGregor has been training with Championship side Raith Rovers. He was also offered a contract by Airdrie at under-19 level until the end of the season, but the skipper declined the offer to stay at Hutchie. Watson states this level of interest in the squad represents how talented they are.
He said: “Senior teams are starting to come and watch us left, right and centre. Hibs, Dundee United, Motherwell, St Mirren, Dumbarton – I’ve got some of the boys going with them in the next few weeks.
“I’m surprised that these type of clubs haven’t snapped them up before now, to be honest. I’ll be very surprised if I don’t lose four, maybe five, players to senior and junior level clubs.”