Recruiting the best is helping to keep Falkirk in business

Players from the Falkirk Development Squad and its sponsors for 2014/15
Players from the Falkirk Development Squad and its sponsors for 2014/15

It’s uncovered millions of pounds worth of talent, and Falkirk’s recruitment team has not stopped there.

Visitors to the recent games at The Falkirk Stadium have seen a steady stream of youngsters paraded at half-time and pre-match after inking deals to join the Bairns while they still are just that.

The school pupils are among the next on the conveyor belt which has produced Darren Barr, Scott Arfield, Ryan Flynn, Jay Fulton, Murray Wallace, Stephen Kingsley and £1m man Conor McGrandles. Craig Sibbald, Liam Dick and Kieran Duffie are others still in the squad with the likes of Botti Biabi, Liam Rowan and Robbie McNab breaking through too.

A lot is down to Ian Campbell, who heads the recruitment team aided by club director Lex Miller, and a team of talent scouts and coaches.

They spot the stars of the future and bring them to Falkirk where they are trained and coached before moving into the Forth Valley Academy and then potentially, into first-team pools.

Campbell explained: “The players recruited don’t fall off of a tree in the town centre. They are sourced from all over the country and then convinced that FFC is the right club for them.

“Seeing the likes of Sibbald, Arfield, Fulton, Kingsley and McGrandles before them getting a chance and taking it helps too.

“Last season FFC had 10 Academy graduates in the 18-man first team squad which can’t really be bettered as you need experience to help the kids along, it will be interesting to see if we have the same return in years to come.

“The club is on board with the recruitment team as they realise we are not just an integral part of the football club but also the business. “Everyone is pushing the cart in the same direction now. The talent will continue to come through as the FFC Academy plays the part in proving that a kid dosent have to go to Glasgow to play with a top club, as they can take the Falkirk route and move to the bigger club when they are ready.”

Players from across the central belt make up the Falkirk Academy and some progressed to first team football and pastures new. Ryan Flynn from East Lothian, Scott Arfield from Livingston, Botti Biabi and Kieran Duffie came from Clydebank while the likes of Sibbald in Falkirk, McGrandles in Banknock and McNab in Denny.

Campbell added: “The recruitment team is a group of volunteers who have given up their time and fuel over a number of years for the good of FFC.

“In the early days, under the stewardship of Ross Wilson and Eddie May - who the team had total respect for - we all worked together but there was very little help or support from the club.

“The team got our own sponsorship and asked the club for very little. But as the finances at the club got tighter we had no facility to run our young programmes and at one point it looked like we would fold.

“However, our partner club Syngenta Juveniles helped keep us functioning. The team continued and stayed professional under difficult times and produced many players who would become FFC assets in later years.

“The team has now grown to 11 and are active in the central belt, Cumbernauld and Airdrie, Glasgow and West Lothian and Edinburgh.”

The recruitment team has secured further sponsorship from The practice (dental), KD Kitchens and Bank of Scotland who recently met the squads.

And following in the footprints of the likes of Liam Dick and Scott Shepherd are many youngsters with eyes on becoming a first team regular.

Ian added: “Players coming through who supporters should look out for include Mark Finlayson, Tony Gallagher, Chris Sneddon and Kevin O’Hara.”