REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL FOR COVE YOUTH BOSS GARY AFTER YOUNGSTERS DO THE CLUB PROUD
RECORD RUN: The Cove Rangers players thank their fans at Ibrox for backing them during their run in the Scott Youth Cup.
THE future is bright for Cove Rangers after commendable campaigns at youth and Under-20 level.
Cove’s u20’s finished runners-up to a very strong Inverurie Locos side in the Aberdeenshire League.
The youth side were also second to Banks o’ Dee, although they underlined the progress they made by hammering the champions 5-1 at Balmoral Stadium in their final league match of the season.
Those youngsters also reached the last eight of the under-18 Scottish Youth Cup, for the first time in the club’s history, before seeing their glory run ended by a 3-0 defeat to eventual trophy winners Glasgow Rangers at Ibrox.
“There is a lot for us to be pleased about,” said Gary Hake, who is the head of Cove’s youth development programme.
“When I first took charge Cove were languishing in the lower halves of both leagues but had climbed to fifth the following campaign.
“To go from that to having a decent go at winning the titles showed how hard the lads in both squads worked over the season.
“At youth level, the objective was to try and compete with Dee, who have been the benchmark over the last few years.
“It was always going to be difficult to overtake them because Dee have a long established youth set-up with the benefits of the excellent facilities they have at Pain Park while be are pretty much newcomers on the latter front.
“Things might have been a lot closer had we beaten Fraserburgh instead of drawing with them in our very first game of the season, that was a big regret.
“That cost us because Dee were the only side we lost to and they ended up being champions again.
“But we have taken a lot of heart out of how well we challenged them - and that win on the final day.
“I can assure Dee that we won’t be going away.
“Like them, we now have the very best of facilities and are confident that will help us continue to improve until we are at the stage where winning the title is a possibility.
“You have to improve season on season so the challenge ahead of our young players is clear.
“A few of the squad who did well this time are also eligible to play at that level again.
“Their experience will help the new lads who come in and I’m confident we will do very well again.”
The majority of the youth squad will now step up to compete for places at u20 level and see if they can cut the gap on runaway champions Locos.
Gary said: “The big incentive for them is they know if they do well they will get the opportunity to be involved at first team level too.
“Several of them were last term and some of the youth side, like Cameron Carrie, were also given their chance.
“But they know that will only happen if they make another strong challenge for the u20 title.
“That wont be easy because Locos had a fantastic season and will be looking to build on that.
“We didn’t help ourselves by playing very poorly in our game against them.
“That’s something we will be looking to improve on the next time because the clashes with Locos could prove to be significant.”
The vast majority of the squad that did so well in the Scottish Youth Cup can also still play in that next season.
“They will be a year older so we can only hope that will help them go on another good run,” said Gary.
“The fact that they made it through to the last eight while playing every tie away from home underlined how determined and talented a group they are.
“Hopefully we will be a bit more fortunate with the draws the next time.
“The possibility of getting a crack at another top level side will also be a big incentive.
“The lads who played at Ibrox will remember that for the rest of their lives.
“They can also be proud of how they performed, we could have been two up before Rangers finally scored, with more than an hour gone.
“Their coaching staff were full of praise for our lads and it was well deserved.
“Rangers went on to win the trophy so our lads can be pleased that they managed to give them one of their toughest games on the road to doing that.
“The target, again, will be to see if we can go one better and make it to at least the semis the next time.
“It is a big ask but every youngster who now plays for Cove knows they will be expected to set their sights as high as possible in every competition.”
PLEASED: Cove head of youth development Gary Hake.