With the 20-21 season below the Scottish Professional Football League disrupted and currently paused until further notice, the decision has been taken by the Scottish Junior FA to cancel the 19-20 Macron Scottish Junior Cup. Pollok were of course semi finalists following their quarter final win at Neilston back in February 2020, highlights below.
The West of Scotland Football League have published the results of their survey that asked clubs if they wished to delay the start of the season. The vote was close, but YES to starting was carried 36 to 31. 14 clubs indicated they did not wish to participate in season 20-21 and they have until 5pm tomorrow (11/10/20) to confirm.
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Pollok FC this week can confirm that Dominic Larkin has been released from his Lok contract due to a change in work circumstances. Speaking to the website about pre-season, manager Murdo MacKinnon said:
“Unfortunately he’s not been involved much due to his work commitments. His new career will take up most of his time.
“This situation is something that has come up and it’s an opportunity that Dom can’t turn down. I wish him well with his career and the future – he’s a terrific lad.”
All the best Dom from all at the club.
In terms of Lok’s three games so far, and pre-season in general, Murdie added:
“The games have gone well – there have mainly been positives.
“There are still a few things to work on and get up to speed with, so very happy with the players overall. The new signings have fitted in well and the squad as a whole is strong.”
The new season is still very much an uncertainty. Clubs met last night over Zoom to discuss a number of issues and a vote will take place on Friday to determine when and how the season starts. There is increasing concern over the lack of fans being allowed into matches alongside a rise in covid-19 cases. National clinical director Jason Leitch told the BBC this week that discussions have not even been held with football authorities to permit smaller clubs to allow supporters into grounds as the focus is on the rise in cases.
Elsewhere in the pyramid, the following dates are being worked to (subject to any future Scottish Government restrictions):
Highland League – no earlier than November 28th
Lowland League – 10th October
South of Scotland League: 10th October
East of Scotland League: 10th October
Edit: The SJFA announced on 8/10 that their own regions would delay until 21st November.
Pollok’s next official fixture is 24th October vs. Tranent, but there will likely be closed doors friendlies in the interim. News of them will appear here and on Lok social media.
The effects of covid-19 continue to haunt Scottish football, and the 20 team West of Scotland Football League Premier Division will run as two groups for 2020-21. Pollok will be in Group B .
Lok’s full group, confirmed by secretary Kennie Young and later the WoSFL, is to be:
- Beith Juniors
- Cumbernauld United
- Cumnock Juniors
- Hurlford United
- Kilwinning Rangers
- Rutherglen Glencairn
The exact format of the new set-up to be confirmed in due course but what is proposed is to play everyone in each club’s own group twice with another 10 fixtures to follow. The West of Scotland Football League however are consulting with all clubs about how we restart and one proposal is to delay the season kick off until October 31st 2020. There are, as it stands, no plans to move the Tranent game from 24th October.
Following Pollok’s cup draws yesterday in the Soccer Shop Challenge Cup, Lok boss Murdo MacKinnon gave his reaction to the official website.
Murdie said: “We are absolutely delighted to be a part of our first Soccer Shop Challenge Cup draw. We look forward to the new challenges we will face and look forward to our future as a senior club.”
Looking at the 1st Round pairing with Tranent Juniors, he said: “We didn’t have to wait long to hear our name, being the first club out in the draw. Tranent are a very good side and this will be a tough tie for both sides.
“It promises to be an excellent tie, potentially the tie of the first round. I’m delighted to be drawn at home.”
“Newlandsfield is looking tremendous and it will be a fitting venue. Myself and Tranent manager Johnny Harvey have crossed swords before in the Scottish Junior Cup when we were at Irvine Meadow and Penicuik respectively.
“I know his teams are always well organised and he likes to play an attacking style so they will obviously get our full attention and respect in the build up to this tie. We are an excellent team ourselves so I am sure that Johnny and his staff will do likewise.
“We will obviously look to go out and win the game at home, we have added further quality to our squad and improved from last season so it makes for a great game.”
Pollok were also pulled out of the hat for the 2nd Round – with 128 teams and 64 ties it was the biggest Senior Cup draw since the 1st Qualifier of the Scottish Cup in 1893-94! The winner of the Lok v Tranent tie will be away to Ardeer Thistle. Of that tie, Murdie said:
“It’s definitely not one to be taken for granted – potentially a dangerous game for either ourselves or Tranent as Ardeer will be extremely difficult opponents. They will be a young side with a sprinkling of experience throughout.”
“I am sure they will be full of energy and running which will make them extremely competitive and as I say a dangerous opponent.”
“Overall, I am very excited about the draw and looking forward to participating in the competition for the first time!”
The ties are due 24th October and 21st November, subject to the return to football going ahead as planned. From a footballing perspective, Murdie has loved having the players back together again. “It’s great to be back out on the pitch with all the lads. It’s been brilliant so far,” he added.
Pollok were given two potential Soccer Shop Challenge Cup ties in Saturday’s lunchtime draw hosted on Zoom by Kenny McLean of the Lowland and East of Scotland Leagues.
Lok were the first orange ball out the fish bowl and were given a home tie against Tranent Juniors of the East of Scotland League Premier Division in the 1st Round. In all, there were 14 ties drawn for it and the provisional date will be Saturday 24th October 2020.
In Round 2’s last 128 (64 ties), it’s a slightly more familiar opponent in the shape of Ardeer Thistle. Lok faced them twice in 2014-15 when we were in the West Super First Division (3-0 and 3-2 wins respectively). We had previously played them in the West of Scotland Cup in 1998-99 (4-1 to Lok). The 2nd Round is due to take place on Saturday 21st November 2020.
Tranent were in 4th place when the East of Scotland Premier League was brought to a sudden stop in March, and while promotion was in the hands of Bo’ness United, they were on track for a top six finish. They ended their season on a bit of a down, with cup defeats to Penicuik Athletic (Football Nation Qualifying Cup) and Hill of Beath Hawthorn (South Regional Challenge Cup).
2019-20 was forgettable for Ardeer Thistle as they failed to win a game in 25 attempts. The real lows included some very heavy defeats and they will be hoping the new start leads to something a bit more positive down Stevenston way.
Some of the more interesting ties from a Lok perspective include:
Carluke Rovers or Kilbirnie Ladeside
Sauchie Juniors v Kilwinning Rangers
Thornton Hibs or Rutherglen Glencairn
Beith Juniors v Clydebank
Broxburn Athletic or Creetown v Irvine Meadow XI
Cumnock Juniors v Wishaw
Dundonald Bluebell v Kirkintilloch Rob Roy
Gala Fairydean Rovers v Sauchie Juniors v Kilwinning Rangers
Glenafton Athletic v Neilston
Hurlford United v Civil Service Strollers
Kelty Hearts v Auchinleck Talbot
Largs Thistle v Dalbeattie Star
Musselburgh Athletic v Benburb
Thornton Hibs or Rutherglen Glencairn v Nithsdale Wanderers
Troon v Preston Athletic
Whitehill Welfare v Carluke Rovers or Kilbirnie Ladeside
As the hope of a new season dawning draws closer, the South Regional knockout cup will be drawn live on Zoom on Saturday 5th September from 12 noon. The draw will see all 142 clubs (Cumbernauld Colts are excluded this year due to a rulebreak in 2019-20) given a tie as both the 1st and 2nd rounds will be made.
Round One, due 24th October 2020, will consist of 14 ties (and therefore 114 byes), with Round Two having 64 matches, the equivalent of the Scottish Junior Cup’s 2nd Round in terms of number. Pollok are number 108 so keep an eye out for it as the draw streams live on the Lowland League’s @OfficialCatchup
or watch live here!
It was always going to be a formality considering the many miles travelled to reach this stage but it is official – the West of Scotland Football League is now officially a ‘Recognised League’ in the eyes of the SFA.
The full list of recognised leagues are the Scottish Professional Football League, the Scottish Highland Football League, the Scottish Lowland Football League, the East of Scotland League, the South of Scotland League and now the West of Scotland League.
So, it is official – Pollok have joined the Senior ranks, 112 years after our formation.
For comparison, the Scottish Junior Football Association was an Affiliated National Association, along with the Amateur, Women’s, Schools, Welfare and Youth FAs.
Later this week the Scottish Junior FA AGM will take place. Pollok have retained SJFA membership and aim to complete their outstanding Junior Cup semi final tie. It was revealed this week that the participating clubs voted emphatically – though not unanimously – to allow the use of 20-21 squads. Not all former West Region sides are keeping membership of the SJFA and perhaps who is in and who is out will become clearer in due course.
The West of Scotland Football League is hopeful of a return to playing within the next three months or so, though a lot will depend on external factors. A “return to training” protocol is also being rolled out across adult football. Full detail can be found here:
In other news, stay tuned for another U20 squad addition!
The Scottish Lowlands Development League have this evening confirmed the conferences for the 2020-21 Lowlands Development League West.
Pollok’s young guns will be in Conference B. The full listing is as follows:
Vale of Leven
The full line-up of the other divisions can be found at the following link:
The Pollok website is delighted to confirm that the club will be represented at U20 level in the Lowland Development League. This is a competition that holds games on a Friday evening and while last season it was for clubs across the Lowland League’s catchment, with the influx of West-based sides, a geographical split is likely. Pollok’s side will be managed by former Queen of the South and Airdrie player Stephen McKenna and he will be assisted by Chris Ferguson. Both coached at Airdrieonians U18s last season.
The U20 side will all be eligible for the first team, and in turn, first team players can play a limited number of games themselves – the advantage of that being the opportunity to get game time for players returning from injury as well as giving the youngsters the chance to play alongside some of our stars. Stephen and Chris are currently finalising their squad and signings will be announced in a few weeks time.
Speaking to the website this evening, Stephen (pictured above) said: “I am delighted to be given the responsibility, alongside Chris, to oversee the Pollok Development squad this coming season.”
He continued: “We cant wait to get started and get to work on helping these lads achieve success in their football careers.”
“We will be in close contact with Murdie throughout the season and will be doing everything we can to get these players to the point where they are running out at Newlandsfield for the first team in the coming months.”
You can follow the young Lok’s progress on the website, Facebook and on Twitter as the season progresses. Stay tuned also for news of what other clubs from the West will be taking part.