After producing the likes of Leigh Griffiths, Steven Whittaker and Allan McGregor, youth club Hutchison Vale finally have the chance to make their own headlines when the William Hill Scottish Cup gets back underway this weekend.
A famous name on the Edinburgh youth football scene for the past 40 years, Hutchison Vale made their move into the senior game when they joined forces with East of Scotland side Lothian Thistle FC in 2009 to form Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale FC.
Six years later, with consecutive East of Scotland league wins under their belt, LTHV now have the chance to create history in their Third Round Scottish Cup clash with Huntly on Saturday. Secretary and Honorary chairman of Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale FC, Tom Allison, says the occasion proves just how successful that merger was.
Speaking to the Scottish FA, he said: “The outlook at the time was that Hutchison Vale didn’t have a senior team and couldn’t play in the East of Scotland or Scottish Cup. Lothian Thistle didn’t have an established grassroots pathway.
“It meant that Thistle could take players from five or six years all the way up to the senior ranks. Going forward we could build a foundation for players to be successful and to play for the likes of Hibernian, Hearts and even Manchester United. The ones who wouldn’t reach that standard would still have an opportunity to develop and play in senior football.
“There have been many pinnacles along the way for Lothian Thistle and it would be another major achievement if we manage to beat Huntly. If the pyramid system is going to work, ground level teams must have the chance to go forward in the Cup. It’s like a wee dream!”
Hutchison Vale have produced dozens of Scotland international players over the past few decades; from World Cup 1998 goalscorer John Collins to Kenny Miller, who played at ‘Hutchie’ from the age of nine up until 17 when he signed for Hibernian.
Hutchison Vale alumni
John Collins – Hibernian, Celtic, Monaco, Everton, Fulham
Gary Caldwell – Newcastle, Hibernian, Celtic, Wigan
Kenny Miller – Hibernian, Rangers, Wolves, Derby, Celtic, Cardiff
Steven Whittaker – Hibernian, Rangers, Norwich
Allan McGregor – Rangers, Besiktas, Hull City
Jason Cummings – Hibernian & Scotland U21
Sam Nicholson – Hearts & Scotland U21
Leigh Griffiths – Livingston, Dundee, Wolves, Hibernian, Celtic
Alfred Finnbogason – Lokeren, Heerenveen, Real Sociedad, Olympiakos
Thanks to the affiliation with Lothian Thistle such players now have an even greater motivation to play well, while those who don’t quite make the senior cut first time around get another bite at the big time.
“Thistle have brought on plenty of players through the years and Hutchison Vale continue to provide a good standard of player to all leagues,” added Tom.
“These kids are brought up with the right education. From day one they are taught the right way of playing football on and off the park and the people who are training them are qualified and speak to them in the right way.”
Now Lothian Thistle Hutchison Vale stand just one win away from a place in the fourth round draw and an opportunity to play Premiership and Championship opposition (Thistle striker Dean Cummings could even go up against his brother, Hibernian striker Jason!).
First up for LTHV though is a tricky trip north to play seven-times Highland League champions Huntly at Christie Park. After defeating League Two Montrose in the previous round, Tom believes that anything is possible for his club:
“The Scottish Cup means everything. The players and the manager have got us to this stage. To win against Girvan then play Kelty, who were Superleague champs, and then beat Montrose – is just beyond belief. I wouldn’t have thought of that happening a few years back.
“We’ll be going up the Friday night before stopping near Aberdeen somewhere. They all come with their shirt and ties on and we always put one or two extra things on for the players. After the Montrose game we took them for Turkish Baths to help them relax a bit.
“I said to them before that win; you play as a team, you pass the ball and you help each other – you will beat most teams. That’s all I said to them. Play as you can and give 100% percent.”
WILLIAM HILL SCOTTISH CUP THIRD ROUND
Saturday 28 November, 3pm kick-offs
Stranraer v Buckie Thistle
Queen's Park v Forfar Athletic
Formatine United v Cove Rangers
Dumbarton v Alloa Athletic
Stirling Albion v Cumbernauld Colts
Albion Rovers v Greenock Morton
Falkirk v Fraserburgh
Wick Academy v Linlithgow Rose
Peterhead v Livingston
Huntly v Hutchison Vale Lothian Thistle
Elgin City v Raith Rovers
Airdrieonians v Brechin City
Ayr United v Dunfermline Athletic
Inverurie Loco Works v Annan Athletic
Stenhousemuir v East Kilbride
Cowdenbeath v Arbroath