To blog or not to blog, that is the question.
Well I’ve decided to follow the precedent of Mr Alan S. Hutchison and continue the President’s Blog into the 2018/19 season to attempt to keep supporters, members and other interested ‘football people’ on matters within the Football Club, and the wider area of Scottish Football and beyond.
It has been interesting over the past few weeks to note subtle changes to the way the team has been set up and how the players have been adapting to those changes.
This blog is not really about the team’s shape or formation but more of its attitude and demeanor. There is lots of historic evidence of Queen’s Park introducing and developing “The Passing Game” back in the early days of the club’s history.
Forgive my indulgence, but going back to my playing days, Queen’s Park were notorious amongst our opponents as being really difficult to play against. Not necessarily because we were a good technical team, with one or two exceptions, who as individuals were tremendously talented, John McGregor, a cultured ball playing centre half, who was aggressive and had an eye for goal who moved to Liverpool directly from Queen’s Park and Alan Irvine a turbo charged winger with electric pace, who would regularly slalom through opponents setting up chances and scoring goals before moving on to Everton.
The remainder of that team and the teams which succeeded it in the following couple of years were made up of team players who were incredibly fit, organised and aggressive. That meant that when we won promotion we were rarely beaten and having only two points for a win back then drawing lots of games wasn’t the disadvantage it would be now.
There has been signs this year from our first team group of a doggedness and tenacity and indeed fitness levels with no little skill which has reminded me of groups of players in the past who became very difficult to beat by sheer force of will and personality.
In recent weeks against TNS, Stirling Albion in the Cup and again last week against Albion Rovers we have displayed that tenacity and determination which I believe underpins successful Queen’s Park sides. I do enjoy players expressing themselves and showing off the technique and skills they have, but personally speaking, that commitment and collective spirit is incredibly enjoyable to see.
Here is to many more games in the future where we overcome the odds to prevail against teams with big budgets, sometimes greater technical skill and whose players have much greater reputations.
There are plenty of topics going on around the club at the moment to comment on. It would be safe to say that September has been an interesting and busy month. If I thought the first few months of the season were hectic, it has just been re-defined this month.
Where do I start?
Firstly, I’d like to publicly thank Gus McPherson on his tenure at Queen’s Park. When I ‘returned’ to the club I was assisting in the recruitment side of the club, alongside Bobby Dickson, Eddie Hunter and others, and therefore had a lot of direct dealings with Gus in this vital area of activity of the football club.
Gus has many great traits as a football manager, he is demanding of his players, in areas of fitness, organisation, tenacity and sticking to a plan. He also, vitally, has an ‘eye for a player’. We have over his tenure, recruited well from the junior grades and got players from our youth system into the first eleven and been competitive across the years, even when losing in a play-off to be relegated from the third level.
The promotion we gained in 2016 will live long in the memory. The game away to Clyde in the play offs will be remembered forever by supporters, players, and all who were present that evening.
I wish Gus the best of luck in his new role at St. Mirren, I firmly believe Gus has been very good for the club, and indeed, the club has been good for Gus and he’ll take a lot of happy memories with him from his time at the club.
Secondly, recalling incredible games over the years where Queen’s Park have overcame the odds to win unlikely triumphs. Well, I think that ‘book’ has just had a new chapter added. The game against The New Saints was incredible. The first half was dominated by The New Saints who undoubtedly, were a skilled, technically proficient, passing side. The team stuck to their task, and gradually played their way into the game demonstrating their will and tenacity not to be beaten.
The last five or so minutes of the game were among the most enjoyable I’ve had at the club, however I have to say I endured the penalty shoot- out, rather than enjoyed it. It was a testament to the players and to those that brought them to the club, that we progressed against a club with a very high budget, who have competed in Europe this Season.
Matches like those mentioned above contribute to the experience of why we follow football, driving high emotions and enjoyment from the sport we love. I believe the modern term is ‘Scenes’. We will all have our favourites down the years, Away to Stenhousemuir in the early eighties coming back from a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3, anyone? OK, just me then…..
Lastly, I wish Mark Roberts the best of luck in his capacity of caretaker manager, my hope is that the players can get back on track after the disappointment […]
Over the past few seasons there has been ‘noise’ about the desire to have Colt teams in the senior leagues. I believe the theory is that, because young development players are playing in what was Under 20 Football and from this season, Reserve Football, the players are performing in a football ‘vacuum’.
Some argue, that because they are not playing against adults, it is not a challenging enough football environment for the development of young players whom we might hope would be destined one day to represent Scotland internationally.
On the long trip down to Annan last Saturday I had been reflecting on the scores in the midweek games of the Irn Bru Cup, where the colts’ teams of four of the top Scottish clubs went out of the tournament, playing against clubs in lower leagues. This, no doubt, has probably provoked the thought that if they can’t win cup ties against lower league teams, what would be the point in putting them into competitive leagues.
I believe there is a more fundamental flaw in the argument for introducing colt teams into the leagues. Colt teams are ultimately all about development football. This means that decisions should or will be made focussed on the development of individual players and on the development of the skills of players within a squad. On occasion, teams will be restructured to develop a young player in a different position or a different role within the team in an attempt to have him experience a different outlook on a game situation, or perhaps find a role where the Colt player may prosper.
This implies that from week to week the line up within a Colts’ team may be changed for reasons other than winning the three points. Fundamentally then, this cannot be leveraged into a competitive league environment.
In addition, there is no way of predicting with absolute certainty who, among the colts, will emerge as players of international standard. Therefore a certain amount of rotation must take place. The fundamental flaw then is that a Colt team in pursuing the development of the skills, tactical awareness and game management of their young players, their starting eleven may differ from week to week and thus potentially this would impact on scores, points won and league placings, perhaps having an influence on promotion and relegation on teams outwith the Colts.
The present Loan System (future blog alert), which almost all clubs operate, means that young players, are sent out on loan to professional clubs to gain some first team experience. There may be flaws in this system but at the moment I believe it to be a better development process for a young player where they can experience ‘real’ competitive league football, where every game, and every point matters.
Even if the new Reserve League continues to be an unrealistic football environment not provoking the hoped for, accelerated development of young players destined to be internationals for our National team, the purpose of the Colt teams, I would argue, should not enter into […]
Queen’s Park has recruited from junior leagues over the past few years to augment players which our youth division develop under the guidance of Gardner Spiers and our youth development coaches, to add to what remains from the squad the previous year. Not many remaining this year!
Large changes have taken place just below the Lowland League with many former junior clubs ‘crossing the divide’ from East of Scotland juniors to the East of Scotland league. What has taken the game in Scotland by surprise is the large number of clubs who took the jump and with what seems very little notice.
The format of the East of Scotland league has been re-organised now featuring three distinct ‘conferences’ with play offs arranged at the season end to decide who competes to enter the Lowland League. What is intriguing, is what will happen in the West, will it follow suit, and will there be the creation of a West of Scotland league, which takes in junior clubs and provides a pathway to the senior leagues.
What is clear is that there is potential for a ‘log-jam’ at East of Scotland level, where progressive ex-junior clubs such as Boness United, Bonnyrigg Rose and Linlithgow Rose attempt to navigate their way through to the senior leagues via an increasingly competitive Lowland League. That being said the Lowland & Highland league winners have found it tough to beat the club residing in last place in the ‘Top 4 divisions’.
I’ve had the personal view for a number of years that Scottish Football should be a meritocracy, where the best performing clubs find their level, whilst ensuring that the clubs infrastructure is of an acceptable licensed standard and that there is transparency around what players are receiving as payment.
The task for Queen’s Park is clear, attempt to create a plan which means we consistently achieve the highest league place we can and aim to pass the clubs ahead of us in the pyramid rather than concern ourselves below us, however interesting the football and the politics of the football below us is.
Enjoy the football!
It’s that time of the year for all Scottish League clubs. The frenetic activity for all clubs around the league, securing existing players, recruiting new, hopefully better players and attempting to improve on the year gone before and challenge for play offs.
For managers and coaches it’s a time of phone calls to players, managers and coaches to attempt to create the building blocks, the right players, to build a successful team. For committees and football club boards, it can be a nervy time. Will the players coming in help us to get to the play offs or better, or will we fighting to avoid the play offs at the ‘wrong’ end.
For Queen’s Park, it’s a little different, we have the same activity but have to be a little more patient, to gauge who will elect to stay at the club, who will move to pastures new and on to the professional game, at a higher level, or sometimes below! For football players coming up through our youth system it may be the culmination of many years playing development football aiming to play first team football and then coping with increased demands, physically and mentally that league football and pre-season training brings. For players new to the club, they have decided to play at Queen’s Park, instead of playing lowland league or junior football for money in an attempt to prove to themselves and to their peers that they are good enough to compete and thrive in senior football.
For players, and particularly Queen’s Park players, it’s a time of preparation and hard fitness work. At the top level of the game it would be correct to say, that players returning from the close season will be just as fit as when they finished the preceeding season. Well at our level it can be a little different.
Whether players are remaining or returning to the club, then the physical demands are clear, we need to be fit to be able to play at the home of football every second week. So apart from those playing the ‘my partner booked the holiday gaffer I didn’t know she was doing it’ card, then the first couple of weeks training will be physically and mentally demanding. For the former under 20s moving up to first team football, the preparation for demands and expectation of men’s football are different to development football.
It is well known that Queen’s Park have recruited from the junior ranks over the last seasons. With the Scottish Football pyramid yet to be fully shaped, this influx of players have been playing in a highly competitive grade of football, but games predominantly played with a few exceptions on football pitches a quarter smaller, by area than Hampden Pitch. It becomes clear that the distances having to be run will be way in excess of what they have been used to.
In addition, generally the level of player they will come up against, in the main, will be of a higher technical standard than those at […]