Gary Mackay: We need to question what value Hearts are getting from the academy
Other than a poor performance from the team in last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Inverness, there was another aspect of the match that I found troubling – not one outfield player came through the Hearts youth academy.
The role of the Hearts football academy is something that’s concerned me for years and I’ve previously made my feelings known to Ann Budge on the matter. And it’s not just the Hearts academy that I’m concerned about. Of the investment put into these academies, has Scottish football got value for money? I’m not convinced.
Christophe Berra played with Edina Hibs until he was 16. He didn’t really come through the academy. He was more similar to a youth player like myself and Davie Bowman back in the day. Callum Paterson played with Tynecastle Boys Club until he was 16. So the two biggest outfield players who came through our youth system weren’t academy graduates. Even Craig Gordon played boys club football until he was 14.
Aaron Hickey was taken from Celtic. That was great from a scouting perspective, but then we’re let the lad Josh Doig go, who’s been excellent for Hibs this season in the Scottish Premiership.
Are we maybe better waiting until they’re 16 and getting them from boys clubs? I don’t know, but the academy for Hearts doesn’t seem to be working for the money being put into it. Where are we getting the value from this academy when they’re using the most prestigious training facility there is in Scotland? We’re getting absolutely no value from it at all if we’re being honest.
If you think about Sandy Clark bringing through that team in the early 90s. We had Gary Locke, Paul Ritchie, Allan Johnston, Allan McManus – Sandy used to work with these guys just down at Roseburn.
I’ve always wanted people in at the academy who weren’t ‘yes-men’. I wanted guys who had proven abilities. The best two over the years were Sandy Clark and Donald Park. If you look at the players those two developed, one at Hearts and one at Hibs with the ‘golden generation’, those were the best in terms of a succession of players who came through a youth system.