Sheffield United, rumour has it, could soon be awarded their own tartan, writes James Shield.
The Redtooth Academy, during first team training sessions at least, reverberates to the sound of rolling rather than flat vowels. Och Ayes nae Ey ‘Ups.
Which, hailing from The Honest Toun of Musselburgh, suits Jason Holt just nicely. But the Heart of Midlothian midfielder, who joined Nigel Clough’s side on loan last month, is leaving absolutely nothing to chance.
“I’m here on a temporary basis to begin with but it’s up to me to impress and hopefully get something long-term,” he told The Star earlier this week. “I’ll be trying my hardest to show the staff, my team mates and the supporters that I’m worthy of the chance.”
Holt becomes the ninth member of United’s squad to hail from north of the border while Jay McEveley also can also trace Caledonian roots. Clough’s penchant for plundering the SPFL markets has been the source of much amusement in cyberspace lately but, given the value for money found there, his shopping habits are based on common sense.
“I think, if you scout it properly, then there are some really good deals to be done,” Holt admitted. “The players are there without a shadow of a doubt but perhaps some people think it’s more fashionable to look overseas now, I really don’t know.
“But there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be looking closer to home as well. The biggest thing is just being given the opportunity and then, as you’ve seen a lot of times recently, things often work out. I hope they do for me here.”
Clough has cited hunger, desire and the ability to settle as reasons behind a recruitment policy which has served him well in the past.
“Craig Bryson was one of the best signings we’ve ever made,” the former England international, reflecting upon his tenure at Derby County, said. “The lads from up there all tend to have that burning ambition to do well that you want to see in any player. They’ve got good characters and fit in.”
“Jason has already played once at Bramall Lane for Scotland under-21’s,” Clough added. “If he does as well as we think he can then they’ll be many more games to come.”
Holt, who made his senior debut for the Scottish Championship leaders in May 2011, will have no problems satisfying those key criteria having already encountered many of his new colleagues both on and off the pitch.
“I already know quite a few of the boys from round and about. There’s a good strong tradition of Scottish boys doing well here and I hope to carry that on.
“Seeing a few familiar faces, and accents too, is always a good start. It helps you to settle straight away and that’s important because I want to try and hit the ground running, perform well and chip in with a few goals.
“I can already tell there’s a really good spirit here behind the scenes and I’ll get to know the rest much better as things go along.”
“Hearts are flying at the moment but this is a brilliant new challenge for me and it’s one that I’m looking forward to tackling.”
Holt, a former under-19 and under-20 international, has made 75 appearances since progressing through the ranks at Tynecastle where his CV also includes a brief spell with Raith Rovers on loan.
“It’s a great chance for Jason to go to different surroundings and try to impress,” Robbie Neilson, the Hearts manager, said. “I’m a big fan of Jason and he wants to play football.
“He’s found opportunities to do that here limited, so this move should suit all parties. I wish him all the best.”
Holt, aged 21, could make his debut at Gillingham tomorrow after watching United’s victory over Swindon Town and FA Cup defeat by Preston North End from the stands. Jamie Murphy, previously of Motherwell, help lift United to sixth in the League One table after scoring twice against Mark Cooper’s side and underlined his return to form with another goal during Tuesday’s fourth round replay.
“It was great to come down and watch that Swindon game,” Holt said. “The crowd, the stadium and the atmosphere just made me even more determined to try and succeed.”