HUTCHISON Vale FC had cause for celebration as they honoured both players and officials for their commitment to the club at their annual presentation awards night, held at Easter Road Stadium.
A great turnout from players, as well as friends and family, saw several of the club’s prodigies awarded for their five and ten years’ loyal service to one of the country’s most successful youth football set-ups.
Players of all ages gathered, with special guests including Hearts stars Andrew Driver and Darren Barr, ex-Hearts goalkeeper Henry Smith and Sarah Boyack MSP.
Club assistant secretary Les Trotter paid tribute to the annual event and revealed his pride at the success of player development at the club.
“It was a great night and everybody had a fantastic time,” Trotter said. “I feel a great part of it all and to see all the talent that is emerging from the club shows that something must be working. There are 101 players who are currently playing professional football all over the world. And there is the talent we have produced outwith that so it’s quite phenomenal.
“We want to play football in the right way, getting the ball down and passing it. Unfortunately it’s a hard slog with facilities and what have you, but it makes it all worthwhile when you see the development of these young players.”
Scott Taylor-Mackenzie, 17, who signed for First Division Livingston in the summer, was this year’s recipient of the Stevie Taylor Award, an accolade awarded for outstanding contributions towards the Capital youth club. Stevie Taylor played with the club between 1986 and 1991 and was tipped for big things before his life was tragically cut short at the age of 19 by leukaemia. Former SPL players Allan Combe, Grant Murray and Gary Mason are among the past recipients of the award.
With such a positive track record for generating promising football players, Trotter singled out club leader Tam Smith as the inspirational figure behind their achievements.
“Tam Smith put an ethos down 26 years ago and it has been this way ever since. He introduced Colts teams for players who weren’t quite making it, 4-a-sides, the kids’ school back in 1989 where Ian Murray was one of the first to attend, so it’s all been a gradual process. We’ve got a great coach and player relationship throughout the club.”
Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale Football Club submitted a proposal earlier this year with plans to redevelop Saughton Enclosure into a multi-purpose sports facility. The site, operated by the Edinburgh city council, has been in decline for several years. Trotter added: “There is nothing further yet on this front as there is a business plan being put together but there has been support from a lot of influential people.”