Teenage midfielder Bradley Whyte is living the dream at Musselburgh Athletic as he helped them through to the third round of the Scottish Junior Cup with a 3-2 victory against Darvel.
The 17-year-old, a sixth-year pupil at Musselburgh Grammar School, has spent the last few season’s watching his local club as a member of their supporters’ group. Now ‘The 1934 Club’ he was apart of, are his main sponsor.
After being released by Hibs Under-17s in the summer, Whyte was snapped up by Athletic and he’s beginning to enjoy football again while flourishing amongst men, some of whom who are a almost double his age. “I used to go to all the games with my pals. I’ve been coming for about three or four years,” said Whyte.
“I got released from Hibs at the end of last season after a year with them, I was at Hearts for eight years before that. I was at Musselburgh’s end of season presentation night, and I got speaking to Calvin [Shand, manager] and from there he asked me to come in and I’ve just been here ever since. I could’ve gone to other clubs, but I wanted to stay here because it’s the club I’ve supported.
“I’m from Musselburgh and I just live five minutes up the road, so it’s a short drive to training; it’s brilliant.
“I spent a year at Hibs last season, but I had bad luck with injuries. I did my glutes and I broke my wrist, so I never really got much of a chance, so I understand why Hibs never gave me a contract. I’ve come here and I’ve really enjoyed it since; I’ve really started to enjoy football again.
“It’s very strange mucking about with boys who are still a couple of years younger than you, then you are coming to training and you are playing with 30-year-old men. All the boys have been brilliant with me. They’ve just looked after me and made me feel involved.
“They were all giving me pelters the other week when I had to miss a game, it was brutal. I’m still at school, and I’d paid for it [the trip] before I signed here and I didn’t know what was happening with football. I had to go and tell the boys I was away to school camp.”
Whyte certainly didn’t look out of place at Olivebank on Saturday, as Burgh came from a goal behind to lead comfortably before seeing the game out in a nervous final ten minutes.
Playing into the wind in the opening period, the home side were finding it tough. Centre-back John McManus could blame the conditions as he clumsily tripped Jamie Henderson to hand the visitors a penalty when attempting to take hold of a high ball. Darvel’s Ian McCreadie duly stepped up to give the Ayrshire club the lead on 24 minutes.
Home striker Stephen MacDonald responded with a stunning strike from 25 yards on the right side, which sprung off the post into the opposite corner.
Shand’s side went into the break in front as McManus atoned for his error with a fine header from Declan O’Kane’s corner kick.
Three minutes after the interval and Burgh were cruising. Michael Moffat was strong in the tackle to nick possession down the right, he continued his run and picked out Conor Thomson in the area, who feigned to shoot and then planted his strike into the roof of the net.
MacDonald should have made it four when he took control of a pinpoint Ally Adams punt over the top of the Darvel defence on his knee, before lobbing the goalkeeper, but the woodwork denied him.
Striker Jordan Ryan gave the visitors hope when he volleyed home unmarked with 11 minutes remaining, but Burgh held firm to ensure their name is in the hat for the third round draw.
Musselburgh Athletic: Adams, Moffat, Donaldson, McManus, Davie, Cherrie (Murphy), O’Kane, Whyte, Thomson (Murray), MacDonald, King
Darvel: Markey, Biggar, Orr, McCreadie, Walsh, Donaldson, Armour, Henderson, Ryan, Parris, Johnston (Boyd) (Findlay, sub Boyd taken off)