CONOR IS A FULL-TIMER

Fern­hill teenager’s dream granted by Di­a­monds

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Back Page - Mur­ray Spooner

A Fern­hill teenager has had his wish granted as he gears up for his first sea­son as a full- time pro­fes­sional foot­baller.

Conor Bell, 18, fi­nally put pen to pa­per with Air­drieo­ni­ans af­ter wait­ing sev­eral years to achieve his dream.

The for­mer Trin­ity High School pupil was one of nine young play­ers to have been given a SPFL Mod­ern Ap­pren­tice­ship which helps play­ers de­velop their skills on and off the pitch.

The two- year scheme en­sures the young­sters will mix the chal­lenge to make it into the first team with ed­u­ca­tion off the park. It is de­signed to give them ca­reers to fall back on should they not make it in the full-time game.

But Conor’s mind is firmly on mak­ing it into the first team and im­press­ing gaffer Ed­die Wolecki Black.

The left full-back told the Re­former: “I am de­lighted and can’t wait to get started in June.

“I know a lot of the boys well who have signed the same ap­pren­tice­ship and there is a re­ally good team spirit in the chang­ing room.

“Next sea­son I aim to make as many first team ap­pear­ances as I can and I’ll keep work­ing hard and see where it takes me.

“I am re­ally grate­ful to the club for giv­ing me the op­por­tu­nity to play full­time football.”

Conor, the el­dest of two brothers and two sis­ters, signed with the Di­a­monds last Mon­day, May 23.

The club an­nounced in Jan­uary that it would be go­ing full-time as of June this year and re­vealed their new train­ing head­quar­ters would be the Raven­scraig Re­gional Sports Cen­tre in Mother­well.

And un­der-20s coach Kevin McBride said he was look­ing for­ward to work­ing with Conor and the rest of the ap­pren­tices at the base next month.

“It’s a great chance for the boys as we es­tab­lish the first nine on a scheme that will be a big part of the fu­ture for us.

“It is a great op­por­tu­nity for them to com­bine football skills with ed­u­ca­tional needs and they also have a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence at the club that they can use as they progress in their cho­sen path.”

Conor has played football since he was five years old and through­out his jour­ney to make it as a full-time pro, he was scouted at the age of 13 by the Celtic Acad­emy.

He was named player of the year for both St Mark’s Pri­mary and Trin­ity High School and joined Air­drie as part of their pro-youth un­der 17 squad where he has scored four goals.

Conor had also played for the Scot­land Na­tional West Re­gion team be­fore sign­ing for the Di­a­monds.

His proud mum Elaine, who has stood on the touch­line in all weath­ers to cheer her son on, said she could not be more thrilled.

She said: “Conor is over the moon. Full­time football is all he has ever wanted to do, it’s a dream come true.

“It’s been a long jour­ney but all the fam­ily are very proud of him.

“He’s hop­ing to break into the first team and will need to prove him­self to the coaches.”

New ad­ven­ture Conor Bell

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