Loyalty in football is rare in the modern game. In the past, it was common for players to remain with one club for the majority of their careers but nowadays players seem to jump from club to club lured by the promise of money or the prospect of winning trophies.
So, it’s only right that players who do show loyalty to one club should be rewarded for doing so. Tony Holt is about to embark on his fifteenth season with local Junior outfit Jeanfield, and on Sunday the club are taking on St. Johnstone U20’s in his testimonial match.
The midfield man is quite rightly regarded as one of the most talented players in Perthshire and since joining the club as a raw 17-year-old in the 2002/03 season, he's amassed over 500 appearances in the black and white colours of Jeanfield. He has remained a one-club man, with the exception of a one-month loan spell at Scone Thistle to regain match fitness following a serious injury.
He's experienced a lot of changes since joining the club back in the Simpson Park days. Jeanfield moved to a new home at the Riverside in North Muirton, and they now compete at the top-level of Junior football in the East Region Super League. The club means a lot to me and to stay here for this long is great. Tony's been there through the highs and the lows, and played a huge part in the club’s rise through the divisions.
His passion for the club is still strong even after all these years, and the 32-year-old is proud of the success he’s had in a Jeanfield jersey.
“The club means a lot to me and to stay here for this long is great. I love the black and white of Jeanfield – in my opinion, we're definitely the best club in Perthshire.
“There’s been some ups and downs in my fourteen years here but to stay for so long at a club that means so much to me makes the trophies I’ve won here all the more special.”
The club has won seven trophies with Tony in the side, including back-to-back GA Engineering Cups in 2011/12 and 2012/13. However, it was the 2015/16 season that many regard as the player’s best in the black and white of Jeanfield. Holt netted 29 times in a memorable campaign, as the Perth side went on to clinch the Premier League title and were promoted to the Super League.
Assistant manager, John Anderson, who himself is one of the club’s most decorated players, paid tribute to his goal-scoring midfielder.
“I think no matter what level you’re playing at, staying at one club long enough to earn a testimonial is something to be extremely proud of – especially considering the ability Tony has and the amount of offers he’s turned down to stay at Jeanfield.
“He’s been with the club since way back in the Simpson Park days and as the club has evolved, so has Tony. I think we’d all agree that his loyalty has been justified considering he’s currently one of the best players in what's comfortably the best Junior side in Perthshire, and he’s plying his trade at Super League level.
“His impact at the club can’t be underestimated. He’s won every league he’s played in – sometimes more than once – and he’s won trophies, player of the year awards and top goalscorer awards. He has set the playing standards for others to follow at the club. His impact at the club can’t be underestimated. He has set the playing standards for others to follow.
“You need look no further than the 2015/16 season, in which he scored 29 goals from midfield to fire the club to the Premier League title. It’s easy to exaggerate someone’s contribution to a club, but in Tony’s case I think he’s deservedly held in the highest regard.”
Fans attending on Sunday will be in for a treat, as the Jeanfield side will be made up of some of the current squad but also some of Tony’s former team-mates. It’s a busy weekend for the players as they also have a pre-season friendly against West Region Super League side Kirkintilloch Rob Roy on Saturday.
One of the Rob Roy players, Gavin Mackie, was a former team-mate of Holt’s at Jeanfield and he will line-up against his old friend on Saturday before pulling on the black and white jersey once again in the testimonial match on Sunday.
“It’s going to be a great weekend of football and I’m really looking forward to both matches. We had a very good campaign last season in the West Super League and we know it’s going to be a tough test against Jeanfield on Saturday.
“It’ll be good to see some of my old team-mates and play against them on Saturday. Then, we get to celebrate Tony’s loyalty to Jeanfield on Sunday and I am really happy I was asked to pull on the black and white colours again to take part in what will be a great occasion.
“I have fond memories of playing alongside Tony and I hope there’s a good turnout to celebrate a brilliant midfielder and a great guy too.”
The match with Rob Roy is part of Jeanfield’s pre-season schedule, as they look ahead to another season in the East Super League. The club avoided relegation in their first season in the division following their promotion from the Premier League, and they have made some new additions to the squad for the new season.
Despite the testimonial celebrations, Tony isn’t ready to hang his boots up yet and he’s looking forward to another campaign at the Riverside.
“We want to do a lot better this season in the Super League than we did last year. Although staying up was a big achievement, we want to push forward and climb higher in the table this season.
“Hopefully the new players will help us to do that and alongside the experienced boys it will create a good mix in our squad and help us to achieve our goals for the season ahead.”
Kick-off on Sunday for Tony’s testimonial match against St. Johnstone U20s is at 2PM at the Riverside. There will be entertainment provided by Cee Cee Entertainment so make sure you bring the whole family along to enjoy what will be a special occasion. There’s plenty of food and drink, and there will be Beat the Goalie, bouncy castles and more. Entry for adults is £5 and children go free!
Tony’s testimonial match is sponsored by Watson Ventilation.
Saturday’s match against Kirkintilloch Rob Roy kicks off at 2:30PM at the Riverside.
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