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Youths On The Up!

By Gordon Thomson
Fri, 16th Jun 2006 12:00am

Alan Upton, Head of Clyde's Youth development programme is certainly one of the club's unsung heroes. Alan was given the responsibility of developing a professional youth structure from scratch last summer and despite having limited resources Upton can be proud of what he has delivered: From the youngsters playing week in week out for the Bully Wee to securing a team of dedicated coaching and support staff that includes a number of physiotherapists and a sports scientist.

Clyde have competed strongly last season and want to improve in the year ahead.
Alan took some time out to reflect on what has been a challenging but rewarding first season with Clyde.

"Overall this was a very successful season for the youth side of the club and we are all now looking forward to August and the new season starting."

"Both the 17s and 19s reached the league cup semi finals last season and although we were disappointed in missing out on the finals, it was an excellent achievement in progressing as far as we did considering where we started from."

The 17s and 19s go the headlines at the end of the season. Robert Ferguson and Hugh Bracelin have been working for a number of weeks putting together a 17s squad for next season and on Tuesday 20th June we will have a match at Broadwood against an under 19 boys club. This will hopefully help the coaches and start the process of identifying players for next season.

Elsewhere it seems to be the current crop of under 12s who are the ones the people in the know are queuing up to see.

Alan continued, "The under 12s have moved on very well since Christmas and are now well prepared for the season ahead. This age group are doing so well we have virtually had a who's who of scouts from all over the country at their matches."

Indeed the number of scouts reached double figures last week as interest grows in the talent this Clyde team possesses. Credit has to go to coaches Gerry Sheridan and John McMillan. Alan said "the boys are receiving first class coaching and this has reflected in the match situations, no more so when we recently went to Murray park and gave a very good account for the club."

In the other age groups Clyde too have a number of dedicated coaches trying to rear talent for the Bully Wee.

Alan commented, "The 13s knew this season would be a difficult one as the majority of boys moved from boys club football. Coaches Paul McIlwraith, who recently added the level 4 coaching certificate to his CV and Ian Scott will hopefully see all the hard work pay off next season. The duo already have had a number of trialists going through their paces looking for a chance to shine next season."

"The 14s produced some tremendous performances towards the end of last season under Garry O'Rourke and Hugh Bracelin. Tommy Mulholland and myself will look after this age next season assisted by Peter Smith. Tommy recently passed 2 parts of the level 4 course and I am confident this will be completed in August. We have played several SPL clubs recently and turned in a couple of decent performances. "

As most of us are content to watch football on the TV there has been no respite for Alan and his staff.

"Although the season is over, this is the hard part for us as we have been out watching all different age groups and inviting trialists to Broadwood to train to ensure we maintain as high a standard as possible next season."

Without doubt in a remarkably short space of time Alan Upton has established a professional structure, consistent with the SFA's desired goal for youth development. He has at the club, with the support of his coaching staff, started the process of Clyde developing once more its own talent and all are looking forward to seeing how the youngsters' skills develop in the season to come.