Although just 19 years of age, Layton Bisland can lay claim to being one of the longest-serving players on the books at Dundee United.
Joining the Tangerines at the age of SEVEN, his Tannadice dream still burns bright.
The towering defender describes his academy experience at United as “like a family” and he has beamed with pride watching his pals like Archie Meekison, Chris Mochrie and Kai Fotheringham make their mark.
It’s amazing when you see them pull on a United jersey for the first team. I’m just hoping for my shot.
And Bisland, yet to make his senior bow for the Terrors, remains determined to do the same as he laps up a formative spell on loan with League One title-chasers Falkirk.
“Archie Meekison, Chrissy Mochrie, Lewis Neilson, Kai Fotheringham – all of those boys are my friends,” Bisland told Courier Sport.
“It’s amazing when you see them pull on a United jersey for the first team. I’m just hoping for my shot.
“We’ve all shared a changing room since we were so young and I’ve always played in their teams, although they were a year older – so I was the young boy in there! We’ve always been really close, and we’ll push each other and have a laugh.
“When you see one of your mates playing – even when you are a professional, too – you are absolutely buzzing for them. It feels more like a family.”
Impressing Jim Goodwin
Bisland has undoubtedly made a positive impression on United boss Jim Goodwin following the Irishman’s arrival in March.
He was on loan at Peterhead during the second half of last season but continued to train with the Tangerines – and did enough to earn a one-year contract extension; no mean feat, given the club’s relegation.
Bisland was part of the United senior group for pre-season training, lining up against East Fife, Queen of the South and Motherwell in behind-closed-doors friendlies.
“I came back really fit for pre-season,” he continued. “I always look after myself properly and I’m quite naturally athletic. Then, I did well in the time I had in the friendlies.
“But the plan was always going to be for me to get more regular minutes out on loan. There’s no point sitting on a bench. Get out and play. Keep learning, keep developing.
“The message from the gaffer was: you’ve been doing excellently and if you go and do your job out on loan, then that’ll put you in a good place for coming back. It’s up to me to keep my head down, working hard and proving myself.”
Falkirk was deemed the perfect destination, with the Bairns embarking on a promotion push amid pressure to win every week. That unyielding expectation is bound to steel him for a return to Tayside.
“I remember speaking to (United coaches) Dave Bowman and Granty (Brian Grant),” continued Bisland.
“One of the things they hammered home was: there will be expectations and demands placed on you – so be ready, physically and mentally, for that.”
Indeed, with Falkirk also in the SPFL Trust Trophy semi-final – ironically, eliminating Bisland’s parent club in the last eight – the Bairns are chasing a double.
And as United lead the pack in the Championship, Bisland could be celebrating THREE trophies come the summer.
He added: “That’s definitely the hope! Falkirk has been a great experience and, coming off the pitch, it’s always good to see United have won again – hopefully they both continue that way.”
New deal desire
With Bisland’s contract ticking down to next summer, the endgame for this season is to earn another extension, just like he did last term.
He added: “I managed to show that the gaffer that there was enough about me to be kept on for another year (last season), then came back and did well in pre-season.
“So, I’ll keep working hard and developing, and hopefully my hard work will pay off again.”