A LEADING amateur football club has paid tribute to its players after they hauled in 22 trophies despite an uncertain future due to a lack of pitch space in the Capital.
Hutchison Vale enjoyed a successful season thanks to a number of crucial wins for the under 13s, 13s Hornets and under 15s.
It was also a crowning finish for the club’s senior side in the East of Scotland Cup after they pulled off a resounding 2-1 win against Edinburgh City.
Club leader Tam Smith said it had been a “very good” season for all involved and credited the players’ hard work during training.
He said: “It’s quite an outstanding season.
“The consistency is there over a long period of time which is also good. I think it’s just putting that wee extra bit of work in which has paid dividends.”
Further success enjoyed by the club over the course of the season included a 3-0 victory on penalties against Portobello for the under 16s in the division one league cup final.
But while trophies are always going to be the icing on the cake, Mr Smith said it was just as much about the additional skills that players picked up along the way.
He explained: “It’s not just about playing the football, it’s about what that brings – the health benefits, the camaraderie and the discipline that you get from it.
“It’s very much a focus of the club that they behave in a certain way. It’s a good self-discipline being part of it.”
Mr Smith said the senior side’s triumph was enough to see them move into the Lowland League but feared this would not be possible due to the difficulty faced by the club in securing a lease for a pitch.
It comes just weeks after Hutchison Vale announced that three teams in their youth set-up wouldn’t be able to play next season due to a crippling lack of facilities across the city.
Latest figures show 76 pitches in Edinburgh have been lost to council closures, housing developments and redesignations since the year 2000.
The news prompted criticism from former Hibs star Kevin Thomson, who insisted youngsters in the Capital “deserved better”.
The ex-midfielder, whose first club was Hutchison Vale, now runs the Kevin Thomson Academy and said he’d been reduced to “begging” for pitch space.
He said: “It’s been a battle for the last six months trying to secure a place for us to train and play.
“We’re trying to give kids an education, we’re trying to teach them to play the game but without the proper facilities to do that, it’s difficult. These kids deserve better.
“I don’t like using the word ‘begging’ but that’s effectively what we’re having to do to secure a pitch. It just seems a bit pointless to have teams who are struggling for a pitch while some are empty.”
It’s a view echoed by the Hutchy team, with Mr Smith saying the club’s biggest problem was “just getting space for the team to play”.
He said politicians needed to do more to support local clubs. “There’s too much asked of volunteers,” he said. “Our children deserve more than what they are getting in many areas of life.”