FOOTBALL-CRAZY politician Douglas Alexander reckons Tartan Army footsoldiers should check out Paisley’s talented young sport stars if they need cheering up after our World Cup heartbreak.
George Burley’s Scotland team crashed out of the race for the 2010 tournament in South Africa after defeat by the Netherlands – but Paisley and Renfrewshire South MP Mr Alexander believes the nation must take a longer-term view.
The Labour man spoke out as he paid a visit to the new SFA-funded School of Football at Castlehead High in Paisley.
Mr Alexander was there to see how the proceeds of crime are now being used to fund the School of Football through the Community Payback scheme.
The School of Football provides training for 16 pupils in first year and 13 pupils in second year, who were selected from Castlehead High’s associated primary schools.
The youngsters each have five hours of specialised training per week, which includes football, athletics, swimming and health and diet discussions.
And they are all committed to working after school to catch up on the classes they are withdrawn from in order to take part in their football training.
The School of Football has already been running at Castlehead High for a year and is expected to run for another two years. Some of the boys are already tied up with top clubs like Everton, Rangers and St Mirren.
Mr Alexander said: “Scotland’s defeat by Holland was a bitter blow but there’s no better tonic than seeing the skills being developed here at Castlehead High.
“Paisley has a proud tradition of producing players who end up wearing the dark blue of Scotland and, if that tradition is to continue, we need to invest in the stars of tomorrow.
“I still remember watching with awe and excitement Archie Gemmell’s wonder goal in Argentina against Holland in 1978.
“He learned his football here at Langcraigs in Paisley and now a new generation of Buddies need to help us get to future World Cups. I welcome both the School of Football and the thinking behind it.
“It’s great that money which has been taken off drug dealers and criminals is now being used to pay for community activities like this.”