And the result is…Cubs 5 Lions 5

Date: 6th August 2016

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By Donald C Stewart

It might not feel like it but Tuesday the 2nd August 2016 marked a watershed in Scottish football. For the very first time in senior football competition, the youth squads were allowed into the big boy’s competitions and they did not fare too shabbily. Out of 10 under 20s teams fielded, 5 won and 5 lost. Major scalps that were lost to the competition were Inverness, Kilmarnock, Dundee, St Johnstone and Ross County. Significantly of the 5 under 20s teams that progressed that night, 5 goals were scored for both Partick Thistle and Celtic.

Of course this was in the Irn Bru Cup that used to be the Petrofac Training Cup and was originally the Centenary Cup. It is the cup traditionally that nobody wants to win until they reach the quarter finals.

As an experiment the jury is still being picked and the idea is one that is about to have a similar experiment in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in England. Funny that. I always though youth teams were reserved for playing in their equivalent of the League Cup – must have got that wrong somehow… And how’s about that – the English FA doing something after the Scottish FA… might just be timetabling…

Whilst having Cub teams in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy seems fine, the FA Chief Executive, Peter Scudamore, has been refreshingly forthright and has ruled out them ever appearing in the Football League. The Holy Grail for people who think Colt Teams are a good idea, is them competing with the seniors in a competitive league which would cement the idea that Colt Teams are as good an idea here as they are in the continent: Not in England says Scudamore. There are 16 top flight academies in the revamped trophy and Scudamore has been keen to allay fears within the fan base that this is the beginning of B Teams appearing in the league.

He has suggested that there are many options for the youth system they have, including a new premier league for under 23s, but what should be hoped for, if the Scottish lead is anything to go by, is goals. In the first night of the Irn Bru cup there were plenty. Nobody will be able to say yet, whether this is due to free flowing football, a gulf in class between the teams or what but for us in Scotland, I think the experiment has given the youth players a focus and something to really play for. As the under 20’s are all premiership teams and premiership first teams do not play in the Irn Bru cup, meeting their team mates is not going to happen – as is the case in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

As an experiment therefore it might just be a safe one. It is absolutely right that the powers that be should tinker. After the goals fest that came on Tuesday the 2nd August 2016, perhaps there shall be plenty of positives to talk about before teams start to reach quarter finals and believing they can win the damn thing!


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