Evening Express

Spain Park success for Banks o’ Dee’s youth sides

Banks o’ Dee U17s squad who won the Highland Under-17 League and the League Cup for the third season running. Pictured from left are the U17's , Back left, Coach, Aggie Eray, Jack Lappin, Caie McDonald, Taylor Still, Ritchie Dunbar, Lucas Muller, Callam Gray, Harry Ingram and Kacper Lewecki, Front left, Tait Duthie, Jordan Lynch, Fraser Duncan, Calum Brown, Jack Mallennan and Tristyn Clark. Picture by Heather Fowlie

Banks o’ Dee president Brian Winton believes the reason for their success at first-team level is down to their fine youth set-up.

The junior side’s under-17s have won the Highland League and League Cup for the last three seasons, while the U20s won the Aberdeenshire League last campaign.

The U17s won the Highland League last month. Having triumphed in East section, they faced North winners Wick Academy at Nairn and won 2-0 to become overall league champions.

Spain Park chief Winton believes the reason they have a strong first team is because they bring through so many youngsters into the senior squad.

He said: “To do it three years on the trot is a fairly major achievement. There is a lot of competition out there, both in the East and North sections.

“I think it’s just reward for the amount of effort we put into our youth development system. We are starting kids at four or five years old and the end product is getting them up to the 17s, 20s and then hopefully into the first team.

“One of the big things that is an impairment now is when kids get to the age where they are in the 17s or the 20s, they are moving away to other areas for university or work.

The trophies from left, U17 cup, U17 league trophy and the U20 league trophy.

“You take them through the age groups and then they leave Aberdeen.

“That is a challenge but the bulk of our first team have come through our youth system and that is a reward for us.

“We know that the best chance of having a strong squad comes with adding one or two to the squad every year and keep on at them after that.

“If they come through your youth system, they have got some allegiance to the club to stay on.

“The double treble that we’ve done is good, and a lot of these boys played in the U20s that won the Aberdeenshire League last season.

“That was very close and we won it on goal difference.

“I find it rewarding because I often have moments when you think ‘why are we doing all this?’ because it’s a lot of work – but there is reward at the end of it.”

The U17s and U20s .Back left, coach Jamie Watt, Vitali Sahhalevits, Jamie Buglas, Lachie McLeod, Jack Lappin, Caie McDonald, Taylor Still, Ritchie Dunbar, Lucas Muller, Callam Gray, Harry Ingram and Kacper Lewecki and coach Aggie Eray. Front left, Michael Philipson, Mark Gilmour, Richard Binnie, Tait Duthie, Jordan Lynch, Fraser Duncan, Calum Brown, Jack Mallennan and Tristyn Clark.

Winton says it requires patience to bring through young players and believes the job is getting harder with many teenagers leaving the area to go elsewhere to go to university.

He added: “The younger kids look at a lot of the first-team players and are inspired.

“They know each other because they train in the same environment every week.

“A lot of the players in the squad are ex-Banks o’ Dee Albion youth players and that’s what the target has to be.

“But it also requires patience to bring through the youngsters because some years you have five or six step up to the senior squad.

“But then we have some years where you have zero. This year is an example where two players have gone to Edinburgh for university, and another has gone to Montrose.”