Two weeks ago, Callan McKenna, Lucas McCormick, Andrew Lind and Cameron Bruce were invited to train with the first team and were included in the squad for the Glasgow Cup game against Partick Thistle at Petershill Park on Tuesday 18 January.
This week Reece Beverage, Cameron Bruce, Lewis Reid, Alex Fairlie, Zach Mauchin and Lucas McCormick were invited to train with the first team and also included in the squad for the friendly match against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park on Tuesday 25 January.
Charley King, coach of the 18s commented: “Marijn Beuker, our Director of Football, has been coming along to our recent games and after the game against Morton he talked to me about inviting a number of the squad to come along and train with the first team.”
The fact that the new director of football was coming along to watch the squad in action gave the boys a huge boost and although only some of the boys were selected to train with the first team it really boosted the entire squad.”
Charley continued: “All three did really well when they came on. Obviously, it was a senior game, so there was a bit more intensity and physicality that what they are used to, but I think they all made an impact when they came on. They are tidy players, technically. They kept the ball which was important and the thing that pleased me was they contributed to the game and didn’t let it pass them bye.”
Following on from Friday’s 18s game against Partick Thistle six were invited to first team training this week and included in the squad for a friendly against a strong Kilmarnock squad on Tuesday. Zach Mauchin started the game He did really well in the first half, considering he has been out injured for nearly three months. Cammy Bruce came on at left back and did well, especially as he was against recognised Kilmarnock first team players. Lewis Reid replaced Peter Grant at centre half and didn’t put a foot out of place. Alex Fairlie came on at half time for Zach and again contributed a lot to the team. Lucas McCormick came on for the final 20 minutes and just like the Thistle game ran the channels and held the ball up well. Reece Beveridge got the final 15 mins in goal. He didn’t have a lot to do but a great experience for him.
The feedback to Charley from Marijn and John Potter was very positive, so he hopes that the boys will get more experiences with the first team during the rest of the season.
Charley also took part in the two day’s involvement with the first team. He fully participated from breakfast at 8:30 on Monday to on the bench for the game on the Tuesday. He saw how the first team do match prep and how they log the sessions. During the game Charlie took part in taking the warmup and was asked his opinion.
Marijn spoke to him about how he sees the academy and specifically the 18s developing and what he is looking for from them. He commented: “After Marijn joined the club at the beginning of January, he started implementing a game model which is focused around compactness, intensity and productivity. This attractive game style, full of dynamics and variation, will be something the whole club will work in, so it was very good to see that first hand. throughout the game.:
Charley commented on his experience with the first team: “It’s good to get in and see how the first team operate. Aspects like how Sports Science plays a big part in determining how hard players train. It was also re-assuring for me that the information I was giving the 18s was not too dissimilar to the information the first team players were being given. I also saw how consistency and standards are important to developing a winning attitude.”
We have a good mix of older and younger 18s in the squad. And now we are getting some of the 16s moving up to us, which gives us more competition for places. Our aim, like last season, is to win the League. We are halfway through the season and three points clear at the top. We have won 15 out of 18 games so far. Our aim is to win our remaining games. One of the things Marijn said was at this age it’s important for the boys to now learn to win. Not win at all costs, but to create an environment that makes winning more likely than losing and to build an attitude of ‘want to win’ in the boys.”
The media team also spoke to some of the boys about what it was like to be involved in the first team and what they got out of the experience.
Lewis Reid – Centre half
Lewis joined Queen’s Park at the age on nine and has played for all squads in the Academy right though to currently 18s.
Lewis commented: “After the 18s game against Partick Thistle I was asked to go and train with the first team on Monday and Tuesday. It was a great experience. Working at the tempo the players train at and seeing their determination not to either lose the ball or a goal was an eye opener. I had never experienced being in a first team full-time environment before. Playing at Rugby Park was special. I had played there before with the 18s, but to be up against a number of recognised Kilmarnock players was a something special.”
Zach Mauchin – Midfield
Zach commented: “It’s such a different environment training with the first team. What I took away was how the tempo they train at is much higher than I currently do and the consistency of what they do is something I will have to work on. You also have to be able to think quicker and know what you are going to do with the ball before you receive it, due to the pressure being put on you. It certainly sharpens you up. “
Zach played the first half of the game against Kilmarnock. He enjoyed playing against such a well organised side.
Zach continued: “They kept the ball a lot, so you had to keep your discipline and shape. I also learned when to press and just as importantly when not to press. This experience will make a me a better player at 18s level and I’d love to repeat it.”
Andrew Lind – Midfield
Andrew commented: “I was told after the 18s game against Morton that Marijn wanted me to train with the first team the next week. I really enjoyed training with the first team players. Apart from training during the day, which was great, the intensity of the training was much higher. I had to get used to that quickly. I liked the attacking drills we practiced. Being given a specific role in a drill is hard to follow but great when it pays off. Things like when to overlap will help me when I’m back with the 18s.”
I got just over 20 minutes against Thistle. I though I played well. The players are stronger, bigger and faster than what I’m used to, but I thought I competed well. Now I’ll take this experience back to the 18s, stick in and hopefully get another chance to work with the first team.”
Cameron Bruce – full back
Cameron commented: “Training with the first team was great. You had to be much sharper and a lot more switched on as things happen very quickly. It gives you a great insight into what the next level looks like and what you need to work towards to hopefully make the step up.”
I got the last six minutes against Thistle and really enjoyed the challenge. I got 30 minutes in the Kilmarnock game. I felt I coped ok with the pace of the game. Peter Grant was beside me and helped by talking to me on what to do throughout the game. I learned a lot about defending. I’ll take back the good habits of the first team boys and how that communicate during games.”
After the game, Marijn came into the dressing room and told us to take this experience with us to the rest of the U18 squad. He demanded that we now have to take a leading role in raising the average level of the team and show every day that we want to play more minutes with the first team.”
Lucas McCormick – Forward
Lucas is another player who joined Queen’s Park aged nine and has played right through the academy age groups.
Lucas commented: “It was a great feeling to be told I was to go and train with the first team and to be included in the squad for the Thistle game. I’ve trained with the first team a number of times this season and always enjoy the experience. The players are great with us, so encouraging and they give advice on many aspects of our play.”
Against Thistle, I came on with 20 minutes to go. I tried my best and felt I did well. It was a faster and more physical game than at 18s level, but thought I did ok. Against Kilmarnock I got on for the final 15 minutes. They were a strong side, so it was hard to win the ball off them. This has given me a taste for first team football, and it shows me what I need to work on if I want to make it. This experience will certainly help me to become a better player.”
Director of Football Marijn Beuker commented: “The club is at the beginning of an interesting period. The Queens Park Academy is an important pillar in the future of the club. We are busy with implementing a way of playing that leads to wins and entertains the fans. In order to do that we look to create a lot of home-grown players that understand the game and can translate this with their physical and technical ability onto the field. Giving academy players the chance to experience the tempo and quality what’s needed on the highest level is a logical step. “
But the players won’t get that chance easily. They have to proof themselves every training and every game. Glen Johnson and John Potter as the technical staff and me as the Director of Football are seeing a lot of the Academy matches and there will be plenty of opportunities for the players to train with the first team. If they deserve it.”
The players made a good impact in both the training sessions and the match. But they must also understand that how they behave themselves off this pitch, is also looked at. Taking care of your body, good sleep and nutrition, humbleness and the mindset to always want to be better are elements that we also look at.”
When we need a spot in the first team, I always look at academy players first, before I look to add an external player through recruitment. So, they have to realise that the step towards professional football can be very close. No matter how young you are, if you show your good enough, this club will give the youngsters the opportunity to grow in our first team.”