There is a growing trend in the Ferrari Packaging Lowland League of acquiring promising youngsters on development loans from SPFL clubs, and it is one that’s paying dividends.
Aaron Dunsmore of Hibs has started well with Edinburgh City, whilst George Hunter made a goalscoring return to Spartans after making the temporary switch back to north Edinburgh from St Johnstone. Saints team-mate and fellow frontman Greg Kerr became the latest teenage loanee to make an impact.
Kerr came off the bench to net an extra-time winner for Whitehill Welfare against Duns last weekend, the South Challenge Cup second-round tie finally going ahead at the eighth time of asking. As debuts go, it was just about perfect. “Coming off the bench and scoring the winning goal, there’s not much more you can ask for,” said Kerr. “I had the ball out wide and Kevin Keane made a run from left back, so I played him in down the line. He played it across goal and it deflected back to me. I took it on my left and volleyed it into the bottom corner, so it was a pretty good goal as well.”
Kerr is keen to get as much regular, competitive football in Rosewell as possible, despite not being overly familiar with the Midlothian club before making the move. “At St Johnstone, the first-team players are needing game time and we’ve got a lot of strikers in the under-20s as well, so the coaches thought I needed to play more. I managed to get the move to Whitehill so it’s looking good so far. I didn’t know much about them at all to be honest. I obviously knew the name and knew they were a big club at this level but I wasn’t sure how they were doing this season.”
Luckily, Hunter was able to offer his mate some Lowland League advice. “I did speak to George before coming here to play,” Kerr explained. “Obviously Whitehill have had a lot of games called off and he’d already played two with Spartans and has bagged a few goals. He said it’s harder than you think at this level. You’re playing against men and you need to be playing to the best of your abilities. It’s a big physical ask – that’s what the parent clubs want to see from you. If you can handle yourself physically at this level, you might be able to do it for the first team and for the 20s.
“My contract [with St Johnstone] is up at the end of the season and I’m obviously looking for another one – I can play another year at under-20s. If I do well at Whitehill, I can hopefully get another year on my contract and play more 20s games.”
Whitehill play their first home game in what must feel like forever against Selkirk tomorrow, but scoring at Ferguson Park is something Kerr has done before. “I’ve played at Ferguson Park at Tynecastle so I know what it’s like,” he admitted. “We won a semi-final against Edina Hibs 5-3 at under-17s and I played for Tynie under-20s against Spartans and scored the winner then as well, so I think I’ve got four in total there already.”
Despite learning his trade in maroon and white, Kerr’s allegiances lie on the other side of Edinburgh, and he faces the prospect of one of his heroes being in the opposing dugout. “I’m a Hibs fan and I’d heard Garry O’Connor was at Selkirk. Hopefully I can get a win against him and won’t be distracted!”