DONS YOUTH COACHING LEGENDS CLARK AND TAYLOR GIVE HELPING HAND TO COVE RANGERS
STAR LINE UP: Gary Hake, centre, in the boardroom at Balmoral Stadium with Lenny Taylor, left, and Bobby Clark, right.
COVE Rangers youth coaching chief Gary Hake says he relished receiving advice from two of the best in his business at Balmoral Stadium.
Legendary Dons keeper Bobby Clark and Lenny Taylor, the former head of youth coaching at Pittodrie, agreed to meet Gary to discuss the best ways to develop young players.
The trio took part in a mini think-tank at Balmoral ahead of Aberdeen's 1-0 victory over Hearts in the Scottish Academy under-16 Cup final, which was held at Cove's stadium.
Former Buckie Thistle manager Gary, who has been in charge of Cove Rangers' youth development programme for just over a year, described the chance to meet Clark and Taylor as "absolutely priceless."
Gary added: "Lenny ended the meeting by saying if I ever need any more advice or help I've just to pick up the phone.
"My aim is to make Cove's youth system the best it can possibly be.
"That's why I was delighted to take up the offer from Bobby and Lenny to have a meeting with them."
Bobby and Lenny are credited with developing many of the home grown talents who helped Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen side dominate Scottish football, and win two European trophies, in the 1980s.
The invaluable contribution made by both men was recognised at the club's recent Hall of Fame dinner, with Sir Alex delivering a glowing tribute via a recorded interview done at his home in Manchester.
Gary really enjoyed the opportunity to pick their brains and cherry pick ideas that could help improve what he and his coaches already do with the young players at Cove Rangers.
He said: "It was a priceless opportunity to be given advice by two of the top men in the business.
"Even more so because I was actually among those fortunate to have been coached by Bobby and Lenny in years gone by.
"I worked under Lenny when I was with Aberdeen as a young player.
"Bobby was also among the coaches in charge of the course when I first went for my SFA badges.
"It was great meeting them again and receive advice that might help us improve what we do to develop Cove's young players.
"What was clear from the start is that their philosophy for the game is exactly the same as it was all those years ago.
"The basic message is you will get nowhere in the game without hard work and dedication and it's something that I've always remembered.
"They also gave me a lot of good advice about how to encourage players and concentrate on their strongest attributes so that they are better equipped to progress through to the first team.
"I'm big enough to admit I still have a lot to learn as a youth coach, and it's something I'm very happy to do.
"The fact they were very encouraging about what we already do at Cove was a big confidence booster.
"You have no idea how much that means when you are trying to create the best youth system that you possibly can for a club at our level."
Gary admitted he still uses some of the drills and exercises first shown to him by Bobby and Lenny in his own playing days.
"The years have passed but the game never changes," he said.
"The main object is to put the ball in the net and produce players who know what to do with it when they have it.
"Lenny was always very good and getting what he wanted young players to do across.
"He would go over and over things until it was clear you knew exactly what was required.
"It's something I've tried to mirror since becoming a coach."
Bobby, whose coaching career also included stints in Zimbabwe and New Zealand before he settled in the USA and became the head of coaching at Stafford and Notre Dame Colleges, said:
"It's encouraging to see a Highland League club putting so much into developing their own players.
"I played against Highland sides when I was with Aberdeen and they tended to be very physical and full of former senior players who were at the tail end of their careers.
"That's certainly not the case now.
"I was at one of Lossiemouth's games recently and there was an abundance of young players involved.
"I also know, through speaking with Gary, that several of Cove's first team have come through their youth system.
"That can only be good for Cove, even more so when I know they are a club with ambitions to play at higher levels."