A Western Development: U20 venue confirmed

It can at last be confirmed where the Pollok Development squad will call home for the inaugural Scottish Lowlands Development League West: New Western Park in Renfrew. With matches being played on a Friday evening, a floodlit venue was required and the 4G venue at Renfrew fits the bill – a big thanks to all parties who enabled this to happen.

A reminder of who Lok will be facing when the action gets underway:

  • Benburb
  • Clydebank
  • Drumchapel United
  • Johnstone Burgh
  • Maryhill
  • Renfrew
  • Rossvale
  • St. Anthony’s
  • St. Cadoc’s
  • Vale of Leven
  • Yoker Athletic

And the Lok squad for 20-21 is as follows:
Luke Biggart (18): Defender / Midfielder from Airdrieonians
Sean Borland (18): Defensive Midfielder from Glenvale 19s
Keelan Braonan (18): Midfielder from Airdrieonians
Luke Cameron (17): Defender / Midfielder from Airdrieonians Pro Youth
Aidan Craig (17): Forward from Morton
Douglas Cummings (19): Defender / Defensive Midfielder from Pollok Juveniles 21s
Kieran Docherty (18): Defender from Linwood Rangers 19s
Jack Grimshaw (17): Defender / Defensive Midfielder from Airdrieonians
Thomas Haggarty (18): Forward from Glenvale 19s
Grant Jameson (18): Goalkeeper from Glenvale 19s
Kamil Krol (17): Defender / Midfielder from Airdrieonians
Tiger Lawson (18): Midfielder from Glenvale 19s
Fraser Lee (18): Defender from Glenvale 19s
Ben Marshall (18): Midfielder from Glenvale 19s
Matthew McMillan (17): Midfielder from Glenvale 19s
Andrew Melville (17): Defender from Linwood Rangers 19s
Alex Quinn (18): Midfielder from Linwood Rangers 19s
Ross Shaw (18): Goalkeeper from BSC Glasgow
Leroy Smith (18): Forward from Pollok United 19s
Mikey Verrecchia (18): Forward from Airdrieonians

Introducing the Development squad (part 10)

In what is likely to be the final part of the series of posts introducing the Pollok U20 Development squad ahead of the 2020-21 season, our last player to be unveiled is 17 year old Aidan Craig.

Aidan joins Lok from Morton where has been since August 2019. Aidan is a striker who began his career with St. Mirren and was with the Buddies youth side for four seasons. He moved on to Erskine Youth then Harmony Row, and spent some time on trial with Morton from the latter in 2018-19. He switched to Glenvale ahead of 2019-20 but won a permanent move to Cappielow not long after.

Aidan has submitted this photo from his time at Morton

Welcome to Aidan and to the other 19 players that make up the Lok 20s for 20-21!

Lok TV – Grant Evans Interview

The southside’s newest roving reporter, Mick Kane, caught up with long-serving defender Grant Evans to talk about how life has been treating him under lockdown, a return to football action and his thoughts on the new seasons set up.

Grant Evans signed for his local club back in 2016, and has so far made 87 appearances for Pollok, scoring 3 goals. Despite being a tough tackler, Evans shows us a different side in our latest interview as he discusses mental health awareness.

“It’s been alright,” Evans said about life under lockdown. “Obviously been tough for everyone. I’ve worked through most of it, only had three weeks off during it, so that’s kept me busy.

“I think its been tough with no football, a lot of the boys have been suffering, just missing the changing room, the banter, getting together and the fitness as well. You see it everywhere, everybody out doing their 5k’s, running but you can’t beat the football, the competitiveness. The sooner it comes back the better.”

As the lockdown restrictions are beginning to be lifted more and more, football seems set to return sooner rather than later for the lower leagues.

“As far as I have heard, going to be back in (training) August at some point.” Evans said. “Speaking to the manager, Murdie was saying start off a couple of nights a week to get the boys back into it, as its still quite a while away from playing games. Don’t want to get everyone back too early.

“The most important thing is everybody’s health and safety. The wellbeing of the players is the most important thing, so once we get the greenlight then everyone is ready to crack on with it.”

As Evans mentioned, wellbeing of the players is important and that includes their mental health wellbeing, which could be taking a hit under the lockdown restrictions.

“I think everybody suffers from kind of mental health issues,” Evans explained. “Whether its a wee bit of anxiety, getting down now and again. Think a lot of folk (will be struggling) maybe living themselves, all ages and I think everyone will be suffering just now.

“I was saying to the manager the other day, there’s a lot of guys come to watch junior football. You go to a lot of the grounds , a lot of them are older. That’s what they look forward to all week, that’s there day out. Come down watch the game, go to the pub after the game, have a wee talk about it, whether iys a good or bad result. Probably be slagging me!

“I think everyone is suffering, I think kids are suffering being cooped up all the time. Personally its been hard as well. Nothing to do on your days off, trying to keep yourself ticking over, running. Keeping fit is a great way of keeping your mental health in check. Not being able to do that, not being able to interact with the boys has been difficult. I think if everyone starts opening up a wee bit, talking to each other then that goes a long way to help. I think everyone is more aware about it now, you see a lot of clubs getting involved in stuff like that and its encouraging to see.”

Football can often seem a tough macho environment where opening up about problems is not the done thing, Evans agrees.

“Definitely, its not easy. Football always been seen as a butch sport. Its not easy for people opening up. I’m not saying everybody has issues but I suffer from anxiety and I think a lot of people do. Its about communicating, talking and just opening up. Then you see others and you realise you’re not the only one. You speak to the guy next to you, ‘oh aye, I get that as well.’ I think its important. I’ve always been quite open about it. I don’t suffer really bad from it but I do. Times like this its not great.”

Lockdown brought an early end to the West junior leagues as the creation of the new West of Scotland Football League came into being. What expectations does Evans have of the new league?

“I don’t know, its exciting.” Evans said. “At the start I was a bit not sure. Now that its set in stone its exciting, really exciting. A lot of games to be played, 38 league games from October onwards, its going to be tough. I don’t know if they will look at that. Going to be tough, players playing a lot of games.

“Can’t complain you don’t have football then football comes back, you have too much! Its important there was a change as a lot of teams were getting stagnant, lots of teams wanting to progress. A lot of teams are spending money, bringing in big players so they are going for it. Looking forward to it.”

With rumours that seven teams could be relegated there is no doubt the league will be competitive.

“Seven down to trim the league, going to be difficult.” Evans said. “If you are in a dogfight, finish seventh from bottom, you think you have done alright but your getting relegated. Going to be really tough. Its going to be tough for us, lot of competitive teams, we will be looking at the top of the table. There’s a lot of teams strengthening, Talbot, the usual, Darvel, Beith, Glenafton, usually a surprise team comes up. Going to be really competitive and interesting.”

With Pollok now having a potential route into SPFL football, we could be in for an interesting few years ahead.

“At the start I was like, the big junior teams like to compete for stuff evey year, the league, the cups. I just thought you go into the Lowland its going to be so hard to go up then to get into the leagues.” Evans explained. “But now that I’ve sat back and read up on it, looked at other teams, peoples opinions and perspectives on it, its exciting. Obviously a long way away but imagine in ten years time, Pollok in the SPFL leagues. Its exciting.”

Evans ended by saying what he hopes for the season ahead.

“Hopefully be up there challenging, stay injury free. See how we go.”

West of Scotland League confirmed at SFA AGM

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:

Phase Three Training Guidelines

In other news, stay tuned for another U20 squad addition!

Introducing our development squad (part 9)

In the final part of the current series introducing our development squad, today we will meet the last three members of the 20s squad. Today we shall say hello to Kamil Krol, Matthew McMillan and Andrew Melville. All three are 17 years old.

First up, Kamil. Midfielder Kamil is from Poland originally but has been in Scotland for many years and stays in Coatbridge. He has played football with Hibernian, Clyde, Airdrieonians FCBC and Kilsyth Athletic, and signed for Airdrieonians, initially at youth team level, in September 2018. While at Airdrie he won the Reserves Challenge Cup and also picked up a Central League Cup at boys club level. He comes to us therefore having already worked with both Stephen McKenna and Chris Ferguson.

Kamil checks out the enclosure c/o Ross MacDonald

Matthew McMillan is a central midfielder from Johnstone who has had a long association with Glenvale AFC and is one of seven players on our U20 books to have come directly from them. With Glenvale he won the Scottish Cup, West Region Cup and the League and won the District Scottish Cup with Paisley District. Matthew also had a spell with Morton where he trained with and played for the Reserve team.

Matthew poses for Ross MacDonald

Andrew Melville is a central defender who comes to us from Linwood Rangers, his only previous club. Honours-wise, he has won the Schools Scottish Cup. Johnstone-based Andrew is currently studying Business at Strathclyde University.

Thanks to Andrew for sending over this pic!

Welcome to all three of the players unveiled today and good luck to all 19 that are currently signed up with Lok 20s!

Lok 20s are doing some fundraising ahead of the restart and are selling these stylish snoods via their Twitter account:

Image

Tweet to @pollokfc20s for more information!

Introducing our Development squad (Part 8)

Today we are going to meet two more members of Stephen McKenna and Chris Ferguson’s Development squad, both lads they know well as they come to us from their Airdrieonians side. They are Luke Cameron and Jack Grimshaw.

Luke is a 17 year old defender / midfielder who has experienced playing abroad after living in Australia when younger. Luke is from Linlithgow and was on the books of Linlithgow Rose CFC before and after his time Down Under, but not long after returning he signed for Airdrieonians’ youth side.

Thanks to Luke for supplying this photo of him signing on at Airdrie

Also being unveiled today is Jack Grimshaw. Jack, from Cumbernauld, joins from the Airdrieonians youth set-up. He is a composed, ball playing centre back/centre midfielder with real leadership qualities. He has been in and around many youth academies as his career progressed. Jack tells us that he is ready to go for the big season that lies ahead and is looking forward to joining the new set-up we have at Pollok.

Jack snapped by Gerry McMillan

Welcome to both Luke and Jack – and please check the site again tomorrow when a further three U20 signings will be revealed.

Introducing our Development squad (Part 7)

12 players were unveiled last week and this week you can expect to meet another seven! First up today is Sean Borland.

Sean is 17 years old and is a central midfielder. He can also play a more defensive midfield role in the middle of the park. Paisley lad Sean has played youth football at St. Mirren but has been with Glenvale since he was 11. He won the Scottish Cup twice with his age group at Glenvale.

Sean snapped by Ross MacDonald

Also being unveiled today is Keelan Braonan. Bellshill-based Keelan is an 18 year old midfielder who comes to Pollok from Airdrieonians where he has spent the last seven years of his career. He has also been with Hearts, St. Mirren, Hibernian and Motherwell when much younger, and counts the Raemon Gormley Cup and Reserves Challenge Cup among his Airdrie honours.

Thanks to Keelan for sending in this pic!

Welcome to both lads – and stay tuned for five more signings this week!

Back for more #3: Jordan McMillan

Pollok supporters will be delighted to hear the news that Jordan McMillan has re-joined the club on a deal that runs through until June 2021. The right back originally joined the club on loan from Dumbarton midway through 2019-20, a deal made permanent following his release by the Sons during the winter transfer window.

Speaking to the Lok website, manager Murdo MacKinnon said: “I take great delight in welcoming Jordan McMillan back to the club for his second season. He brings a wealth of experience and quality after spells at Rangers, Dunfermline and Partick Thistle to name a few.

“Jordan joined us last season on loan from Dumbarton and made an immediate contribution on the park. Jordon then joined the club on a permanent basis early in the new year.”

Murdo added: “Before the season ended Jordan was part of the squad which defeated Neilston in the Macron Scottish Junior Cup Quarter final. His performances on the pitch were of the highest standard and we look forward to him showing more of that in the coming season.”

Welcome back Jordan!

Stay tuned to the PFC website for another batch of under 20 signings too.

Introducing our Development squad (part 6)

In the final part of our current series welcoming the new members of our U20s to Pollok FC, we are going to be introducing Leroy Smith and Mikey Verrecchia. There is symmetry with our first post as these lads come from Pollok United and Airdrieonians respectively, just like Douglas Cummings and Luke Biggart.

First up, Leroy Smith. Leroy is 18 years of age and is an energetic, fast centre forward. He has scooped a number of Player of the Year awards and netted 52 times in his best ever season. He helped the regional team reach the semi finals of the Glasgow Cup, with Leroy bagging a hat-trick in the quarter finals. Leroy has previously played with Hampden YFC, Clyde Community YFC, Weir Recreation and Hillwood, joining up at Pollok United for 2019-20.

Thanks to Leroy for sending in this pic

And finally, for now, Mikey Verrecchia. Mikey is an 18 year old striker that joins up from Airdrieonians. He joined the Diamonds way back in the 2013-14 season from Jerviston BC. The only trophy he says he has won away from school football was the Reamon Gormley tournament.

Michael checks in with Gerry McMillan for a photo

Welcome to all 12 players announced so far: Luke Biggart; Kieran Docherty; Thomas Haggarty; Grant Jameson; Tiger Lawson; Lee Fraser; Ben Marshall; Alex Quinn; Ross Shaw; Leroy Smith and Michael Verrecchia. There more to follow in due course!

Introducing our Development squad (part 5)

In the second of two updates today, let’s find out who else is joining up with the U20 Development squad set to compete in Conference B once the football gets underway. Up next are two 18 year olds, Alex Quinn and Ross Shaw.

Alex comes to Pollok from Linwood Rangers, the only club he has played for so far. This is because Alex was previously involved at a high level in Judo and competed for Scotland in that discipline. Alex is an energetic box-to-box midfielder who wil be involved at either end of the pitch. He is a graduate technology apprentice at Morgan Stanley and is also studying software engineering at Strathclyde University.

Alex Quinn from Gerry McMillan

The second of our two goalkeepers to be announced is Ross Shaw. Ross, or Shawzy as he is known, is actually a recent addition to the ‘goalkeepers union’, ending up in goal when a team-mate failed to show for a game – and the rest, they say, is history! Ross counts Renton Craigandro, Erskine Youth, Dumbarton United, Linwood Rangers and Vale of Leven among his clubs, and last season was with BSC Glasgow. Despite his age, he made it onto the bench for a game away to Berwick Rangers in November 2019.

Thanks to Ross himself for submitting this pic

Welcome to both Alex and Ross and good luck for the 2020-21 campaign! We will have a further two players being revealed tomorrow so watch out for news of those.