Bolt colts

Date: 30th March 2021

The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:

Sometimes I think that there are people who don’t quite get it. Sometimes I just wonder at their continued inability to listen or comprehend.

The lower leagues don’t want Colt Teams. Having them in the cup competitions may well allow the Colts to test themselves against the lower leagues, play against men rather than boys at the same level, put themselves in the shop window in very real games that allow us to see just how good the development phase of their career has been and make us all aware of the future.

Or does it?

By the time that the Colt team makes a stance in the cup, are the players who are going to make the grade not already in the first team? Are they not already training with the first team? Are they likely to get a chance to play for any other team apart from a lower league team? Is this just about throwing the ones you are going to let go at the end of the season a chance to show off their wares to future employers rather than be about their own development? Surely making it a condition of membership of the league that all of your Colt Teams play in domestic leagues and competitions  to improve everyone’s lot what it all should be about? If it was about development, then surely a beefed up domestic reserve league would do that?

You know. Like in the old days. When men were men and boys were playing against them every week until a first team chance came at their own club and they got given that chance. Or are we saying that these players in the lower leagues who have many a year under their belt are the equivalent in boxing of journeymen who have more losses than wins and are just there to teach the new Kieran Tierney the ropes? But then again Tierney would probably not have been risked against the likes of Albion Rovers or Brechin City – would he?

The SFSA survey of fans has shown, overwhelmingly, that the fans don’t want to turn up and watch their team against the Colts from the Premier League. We know that if a Rangers or a Celtic strip is worn at the opening of an envelope, then people will buy tickets to see it, however the competitive nature of our game and the very real support of our team is being used in quite a cynical and nefarious manner.

If people are truly serious about the development of the game, look seriously at the implementation of the McLeish report. If people are truly serious about the development of our game, then invest in making things much more competitive by sharing the sweeties more generously down the divisions.  If people are truly serious about the development of our game, cast the net wider and not simply put the future of our game in the hands of those families who can afford to play it. If people are serious about having the game come out of this pandemic in a better state than before, then take serious action.

The first would be to clear out the dead horses and stop flogging them.

The changes made in the cup competitions show that there are some who have innovative ideas and whilst they may not be perfect, the changes are welcome because they are different – we have changes made to make things better. If they work – great – if they don’t we then know they don’t and can stop endlessly debating them.

I realise people could argue that the Colts in the Lower Leagues would be an innovation that needs to be tried to show if it would work but answer me this – name me the number of young players who have managed the transition from the Academy to the first team bus in the last few years for either of the Big Two? Then name me the number who have managed from Hamilton, Hibs, Queen’s Park? The fact is that Academies need support but we need to see how those who have a stronger grass roots base can be better at taking the raw and turning them cultured – then the rest can copy.

As if…

Until we see the way that numbers of young people are making it through the ranks and emerging, we shall continue to bang on about how the biggest investment needs to be targeted at the most successful. The problem I, and many others have, is the assumption that success is defined by who makes the grade in Glasgow.

If anything, Steve Clarke, especially with his latest squad, has blown that finally out of the water. Picking more and more non Auld Firm players and getting success, spirit and a squad that is capable of being competitive without relying on the big two is a message. It is a message that has been shouted for years – Scotland has depth. Not just in midfield but in the players who don’t get the chance because yet another foreign player is signed or the demands of making profit through Europe is given precedence over home grown ability.

Whilst clearing out the cupboard of the horses, the menu should start to include unpalatable truths. I wonder how many shall bring their knives and forks to tuck in.


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