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Thread: Lennoxtown Academy

  1. #1
    the last heretic Stagger Lee's Avatar
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    Default Lennoxtown Academy

    Half decent wee interview about the academy. Like the bit at the end where the guy is comparing what he's hearing Tierney say the now to what McStay used to say all the time.

    John Sludden watched the late Tommy Burns hit the start button on the conveyor belt of young Celtic talent.

    It’s just over a decade since the Hoops opened the doors of their state-of-the-art training base at Lennoxtown with the production line now the most prolific in the country.


    But Sludden believes that quality control which saw 10 academy kids feature in the club’s record-breaking 63-game unbeaten domestic run is a lasting tribute to the man who put the template in place.

    SFA stats show the Parkhead side have produced more players from their academy than any other club in the country with 18 featuring in the Champions League over a 15-year period.

    An incredible 55 kids have graduated to competitive Celtic debuts while 168 of them went on to have professional careers elsewhere as downtrodden Barrowfield has been replaced with a football factory at the
    foot of the Campsie Hills.

    And Sludden, who spent 12 years as a development coach with the champions, insists Burns has a legacy in his own image.

    He said: “The secret to the success of any football academy is the way it’s structured and Celtic’s ability to develop players through to the first team is all down to one man – Tommy.

    “Lennoxtown is his legacy. The DNA of Celtic’s development programme was created by Tommy and it is now part of the fabric of everything that’s done at that level. I was there when the doors to the training complex were opened for the first time and it was testament to all the hard work Tommy had put in.

    “He was instrumental in getting it from planning stage right through to its completion and all that hard work is now coming to fruition.

    “But it wasn’t about the bricks and mortar with him – he understood the need to bring in the right type of people to ensure youngsters were being nurtured as footballers and as people.

    “Lennoxtown was Tommy’s baby. It was incredible the amount of time and energy he spent on it. He’s no longer with us but he still remains a massive influence over so many people at the club.”

    James Forrest, Kieran Tierney, Callum McGregor, Jamie McCart, Anthony Ralston, Calvin Miller, Liam Henderson, Jack Aitchison, Michael Johnston and Eoghan O’Connell are the homegrown players who have helped rewrite the history books.

    And Sludden believes they’re torchbearers for the Burns ethos based on hard work and honesty.

    He said: “Tommy set the standard for everyone connected with Celtic’s academy – the staff, coaches and the players. Everyone.

    “It’s about having a work ethic and integrity in your job and that has been carried on right through the time Lennoxtown has been in operation.

    “I remember the pride he had when the doors opened. He wanted an academy that would be the best in the country and now he has that.

    “There’s no magic formula. The answer can be found in the number of people who are still working at Celtic who came through the academy programme from day one with Tommy. They saw the way he worked and they’re continuing that.

    “It was morning, noon and night with Tommy. You would see him around the park all day and he’d still be there when they were switching the lights off at the end of the night.

    “It was a labour of love for him to help usher along these kids.

    “Tommy was just being Tommy – that enthusiasm he had rubbed off on everybody.

    “You see it in the good work from people like head of youth Chris McCart and Martin Miller, head of Celtic’s junior academy. Martin is a massive part of that success as he’s the first coach the majority of the kids will come under when they sign for Celtic.

    “Brian Meechan is also a massive influence on the young players. He ensures everything is in place to safeguard their wellbeing.

    “It’s men like these who do an enormous amount of work behind the scenes and so often it doesn’t get noticed.


    “My old Clyde team-mate George McCluskey is instrumental – as a former player he knows what it’s all about and is great to have about the place. Tommy McIntyre is also a key figure in all the success of getting boys through the levels and into the first team.”

    Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers has spoken of money not being able to guarantee success along with his mission to promote from within. And Sludden believes plenty more will get their wish.

    He said: “These players are developing all the time. They arrive into the academy as kids with potential and that’s when the hard work begins.

    “It’s about a work ethic that runs in tandem between the players and coach, which is all about setting off on a pathway that hopefully ends with playing in the first team. It’s the perfect learning environment. You can go right back to Aiden McGeady then James Forrest to find when the development programme started to bear fruit.


    “There is now an ethos at Celtic which is about showing you are good enough. If you can do that then you will get a chance in the first team.

    “Brendan has encouraged that and shown he’s prepared to put them in.”

    East Stirling boss Sludden believes Celtic’s duty of care is also about preparing young minds for a career elsewhere if first-team football doesn’t come calling.

    He said: “This is an academy that services most of the senior clubs in Scotland
    and that has also been part of the Celtic message. When Tommy sat parents down to talk about signing their child, he would talk about their son being given a football education.

    “That player may not progress into Celtic’s first team but it shouldn’t mean he can’t earn a good living playing football somewhere else.

    “That was always Tommy’s attitude. He wanted to ensure every player was given the best chance even if they weren’t going to make the grade at Lennoxtown.


    “And that has been proven with the number of players with a Celtic education playing at other big clubs – Marcus Fraser, John Herron, Joe Chalmers and boys like that are all succeeding elsewhere.

    “You also get a special talent like Kieran Tierney whose potential is scary. You just wonder if his love for the club will lead to the scenario we had with Paul McStay.

    “He may be a player who just wants to stay for his entire career as he loves playing for Celtic. Some of his comments are things I used to hear coming from Paul.”

  2. #2

    Default Re: Lennoxtown Academy

    You also get a special talent like Kieran Tierney whose potential is scary. You just wonder if his love for the club will lead to the scenario we had with Paul McStay.

    “He may be a player who just wants to stay for his entire career as he loves playing for Celtic. Some of his comments are things I used to hear coming from Paul.
    First time I have heard anyone at the club say anything like this. Must be the way the wee man is talking if Brendan is saying it in public.

  3. #3
    Semi-Benevolent Dictator Euskadi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lennoxtown Academy

    Said it since day 1. Cannot understand why so many Celtic fans are convinced he'll be gone in 2-3 years. Nothing at all to support it.
    You've probably not even bought a share in your whole entire life
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  4. #4
    the last heretic Stagger Lee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lennoxtown Academy

    Quote Originally Posted by Euskadi View Post
    Said it since day 1. Cannot understand why so many Celtic fans are convinced he'll be gone in 2-3 years. Nothing at all to support it.
    They just think every young footballers head will be turned by money, eventually. Which is a fair enough train of thought to take with the amount of youngsters just wanting to get into the game for the sake of becoming millionaires. Tierney is different though - he's got that love of the game and that love for Celtic, and he knows exactly what it means to be playing at the club.

    Only way I can see him leaving would be if it was to get Celtic a major payday if one of the big 6 clubs came in for him.

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