The youth branch of East Premier League junior side Penicuik Athletic are spending their first season in the South East Region leagues after the amalgamation of two Penicuik-based youth football teams.
Penicuik Athletic YFC, which formed in September last year after Eskmill and Beeslack Thistle combined, are the first Penicuik-named club to play in the region’s youth football set-up.
Strangely, until this season, there had never been a youth football side with Penicuik etched on their club crest. It is thanks to former Eskmill chairman and current Penicuik Athletic YFC chairman, Derek Sclater, that the Midlothian town now has its very own youth club.
Sclater said: “Last year we sat down with Keith Wright (the former Hibs player) from the SFA South East Region to discuss the plans ahead for Eskmill FC. It was in that meeting that I suggested we put the two teams together.”
Along with the help of Wright and SFA colleagues David Drummond and David Sheldon, with support from Midlothian Councillor Adam Montgomery, the constitution was changed in September last year and the new club was formed.
With a youth team working as one, combining facilities as well as over 50 coaches and around 320 players, Sclater feels the club has become stronger since the two clubs joined forces.
He said: “We are stronger together – we have been able to work with the local authorities to get sole rights to the use of the astroturf in Penicuik. Before, when the two teams were separate, we were fighting to get the same pitches and the same venues for training but to get it all under the one umbrella makes it easier to manage.
“Teams weren’t able to fulfil fixtures because they didn’t have enough players whereas at the same age group at the other club there were too many players. It just wasn’t feasible so we thought we would bring the two clubs together.”
With the backing of a major sponsor in Cala Homes, the youth club has been rebranded, with around £25,000 spent on things such as new strips, training kit and tracksuits.
Plans are also afoot for a new astroturf pitch at Beeslack High School, which would provide the club with better facilities to use in the winter. Support in this venture would come through the Armed Forces Community Grant Scheme and Sport Scotland. With a major sponsor for the community club and with new facilities on the horizon, Sclater feels the club can only grow stronger. He said: “It’s gone better than what I expected so far. It’s been relatively easy. A big thing for me was when we rebranded the club buying all the new kit; it was great to see all the teams on the playing fields.
“Going forward I can only see the club getting bigger. In the years to come, as one unit, hopefully some of our youth teams can get into the top leagues. We will have stronger teams with just the one club working together.”