Last month, we were delighted to see current ESMS pupil turned professional footballer, Finlay Pollock, make his debut for the Heart of Midlothian F.C. first team at just 16 years old, making him the youngest player to feature in this season’s Scottish Championship.
As the Scottish Championship has recently drawn to a close, with Finlay debuting during Hearts’ win against Inverness CT to help secure their Championship league trophy, we decided to catch up with Finlay to capture his post-season thoughts as well as to hear his hopes for the future, during his time at Hearts F.C. and beyond.
Speaking about his childhood and where his love for football first began, Finlay recalls “Ever since I was young, I have always enjoyed playing football. I started playing football at Spartans when I was 4.”
During his time at ESMS, Finlay was a gifted player on the rugby field as well as football, with a place in both Under-16 teams, before he made the decision to focus on football when he joined Hearts from a young age.
“I joined the ESMS Junior School football club and really enjoyed it. Mr Allison was always so encouraging and gave up a lot of his time to take the training and take us to matches. I really enjoyed the challenge of playing against different teams.”
Talking about his decision to focus on football over rugby, Finlay recalls “This was a hard decision, but the training at Hearts was 4-5 times per week which meant I was not always able to do extra rugby training, therefore I decided to focus on football.”
Reminiscing about his favourite times representing Stewart’s Melville College at football, he told us “One of the biggest highlights was winning the Scottish Independent Schools’ FA Cup and becoming SISFA champions with my friends,” during which Finlay captained the S1 team to victory.
Finlay Winning SISFA Cup 2016 as Captain of S1 SMC Football Team
While playing for Spartans, Finlay was quickly snapped up for a trial at Hibernian F.C. before he was approached by a Hearts scout at just aged 9. Now, after debuting for the Hearts first team at only 16 years old and discussing his new contract, he said “I’ve not actually signed my first contract yet, the official signing date is June, but I am excited and proud.” Especially as he is now playing alongside Former Pupil Euan Henderson who Finlay shared “has been very supportive.”
As for juggling his school commitments alongside his rigid training schedule, Finlay said “it has been tough at times, particularly recently when I have been studying for assessments, but I have made sure that I have stayed on top of my schoolwork by completing it around my training schedule and matches."
Looking towards the future, Finlay “would love to play for the premier league!”
And, for any ESMS pupils who would like to join him in professional football, his words of advice would be to “try your best at every training session and work hard.”
Mr Allison, Finlay's former football coach at SMC and ESMS Junior School Principal Teacher, has expressed his pride in watching Finlay's football career take off; "It was clear from P4 that Finlay had the ability to go all the way. Everywhere he went he always had a football at his feet. His performances as captain for the School Football Team were exceptional. He could change games with a moment of brilliance. Two examples stand out – the header he scored in the final minute to win the P7 Inspector’s Cup semi-final and his leadership when knocking Kirkintilloch High School (Celtic FC Academy Team) out of the S2 Scottish Cup. Finlay has exciting times ahead of him!"
Thank you for taking the time to catch up with us Finlay, we can’t wait to see where your journey takes you.