Lewis Moore goes from Hearts outcast to Queen's Park royalty after training with 14-year-olds at Riccarton
A two-year contract offers security, but moreover it comes with appreciation of the winger’s talent and a chance to fulfil his undoubted potential at an ambitious Glasgow club. Moore jumped at the move after a difficult final year at Tynecastle Park spent out of favour and quite literally out of the picture.
He was loaned to part-time Arbroath in February having made no impact at Hearts all season. Two training nights a week in Angus were to be supplemented with daily sessions at Riccarton, but Moore could not enter the biosecure Hearts first-team bubble due to Covid 19 restrictions.
That left him working with high school kids, and sometimes only a handful of them. Morale and motivation dipped as he questioned the purpose of going into training at all.
“For the last few months, some days I was only training with three folk. Other days I was in with 14-year-old who you aren't even allowed to tackle [because of the restrictions]. It was so bad. I just woke up every morning like, ‘what is the actual point in this?’ said Moore, speaking exclusively to the Evening News.
“Towards the end of that Arbroath loan, it was so stressful. I didn’t know what I was going to do or what I wanted to do. Not being big-headed, but I thought because I’d played nearly 30 games for Hearts I was going to find a team no problem. That’s just inexperience because I haven’t changed club before and it doesn’t work like that.
“Part-time teams spoke to me but in my head I didn’t want to go part-time. Then it got to the point where I thought: ‘I’m going to need to go out and find a job here.’ I spoke to Sean McKirdy, who own his own gym, and asked about doing courses and things like that.
“When this move came up it was a big relief knowing I’m here for two years. I’m really happy. The big difference is that I actually enjoy driving to training now, knowing I’m wanted and appreciated.”
Saturday past was his first game in ten weeks since Arbroath’s 2-2 draw at Raith Rovers in April. Queen’s Park drew 2-2 with Stirling University in their first pre-season outing and Moore managed 60 minutes. “It’s the first time I’ve played in ages. I was blowin’,” he laughed.
It is a giggle laced with contentment thanks to his new employers. With financial backing from Sir Tom Hunter and Lord Willie Haughey, Queen’s Park are structured for success and continuing to build. “The club is determined to deliver an innovative new Scottish football club model,” it says on their website.
The Spiders ended 152 years of history in 2019 by switching from amateur to professional status. It was just the start of a project intended to take them all the way to the Scottish Premiership.
They won League Two at a canter last season and, having recently appointed Laurie Ellis manager, covet successive promotions to reach the Championship by this time next year.
“That’s exactly the reason I came here. It’s a club that wants to go somewhere,” said 23-year-old Moore. “I want to be in a team winning things instead of fighting for my life. I’ve experienced that and it’s not enjoyable needing to win games every week to stay in the league.
Don’t care about mistakes
“The manager phoned me and right from that first phonecall I thought: ‘This is the place for me.’ Everything he said to me was positive. He said he doesn’t care about mistakes, just go and do your thing. Right now, that’s what I need to hear to get my confidence back.
“The manager said he was bringing me in to play where I feel comfortable, which is on the wing or as a No.10. He said: ‘I want goals and assists from you.’ That’s what I’ve lacked in my career so far. I’ve had so many setbacks over the years so now I want to start enjoying it.
“Queen’s Park want to try for another promotion this year. The players are experienced, mostly from Championship teams, and there are a lot of promising young boys they want to bring through."
Some clubs have ambition without infrastructure, while others have infrastructure without ambition. Queen’s Park have both in spadeloads. As a third-tier club in Scotland, they boast their own training ground at Lochinch Sports Pavilion in Pollock Country Park.
The facility is rented from the Scottish Police Recreation Association and is complete with bistro and chef to ensure players’ nutritional needs are attended to each day. The club are also building stands around their Lesser Hampden home in the hope of growing the fanbase over years to come.
“The set-up is ridiculous. We have our own building at Lochinch which overlooks the pitches, they’ve built a bistro on to it and there’s a chef so we get breakfast and lunch. There are grass pitches and astro pitches, plus a physio.
“The gym sessions are at Lesser Hampden. We’re playing our home games at Firhill because Queen’s Park are building stands around Lesser Hampden. There’s also going to be a new pitch. Honestly, the facilities are outstanding.”
For Moore, joining the Spiders means he no longer has to crawl out of bed dreading training each morning. The future is very clear now it’s in black and white.