Ludere causa Ludendi - To play for the sake of playing

Queen's Park know their place. They are the last bastions of the Corinthian spirit, essential plankton on which Scottish football's big fish sustain themselves. They are the Spiders and the Strollers, Hampden and Lesser Hampden.

Queen's, over the 141 years of their existence, have been perceived as prehistoric in their romantic values but have never been more pioneering or relevant in their approach to the business of football. They are a club and a community content to bob along between the third and fourth tiers of the league structure, with pleasure the only currency exchanged.

On Tuesday night, 800 regulars witnessed another stirring of the Spiders, when they defeated Peterhead to ensure a place in the last 16 of the Homecoming Scottish Cup against Celtic at Parkhead. Andy McGlennan has assumed more positions than a Kama Sutra action figure during his 30-year involvement. He began as a reserve coach, then first-team coach, then interim manager (twice) all the while juggling a successful insurance business. He is a former director who is now technical director of youth development and debenture manager of Hampden Park Ltd, the commercial wing of the national stadium. He is, in short, a ubiquitous presence around Hampden.

"We may be amateur in our philosophy but we're professional in our approach," McGlennan told The Herald. "I don't think Queen's Park get the credit they deserve for the work they do. We are not just about providing young players with a football education but we are also about doing the same with our coaches. We are the ultimate shop window and unique in that any money we raise goes straight back into providing better facilities and better coaching, not to players who ask where is my dosh?' after they win a game."

Queen's specialise, nay thrive, in adversity. Their greatest ever players became so only after leaving: Alan Irvine, Alex Ferguson, Ian McCall, Malky Mackay to name a few. They leave with fond and lasting memories but deep gratitude to the club and their enviable youth development system.

Queen's have moved with the times but not in a capitalist sense. Where once there was only the Strollers and the Spiders, now there is an entire web of youth programmes, with eight teams utilising the newly laid synthetic surface on Lesser Hampden seven days a week. The system costs £130,000-per-year to maintain, funds generated by the odd cup run, the commitment of their supporters, fundraisers and grants from the Scottish Football Partnership. Queen's are also eternally grateful for the benevolence of Willie Haughey, the refrigeration tycoon, who raised half the funds for the new 3G surface and dressing room renovation of Lesser Hampden.

"We have a wonderful facility: all the teams can use Lesser Hampden seven days a week and the first team have not missed a single day of training to the weather," said the manager, Gardner Speirs.

Speirs has been a victim of his predecessor's success. Billy Stark left to become Scotland under-21 manager but did so after taking the club into the second division and keeping them there. Speirs secured safety, but at a cost: eight of his players were signed by other teams.

"I hope that was an extraordinary circumstance," said Speirs after trawling the juvenile, junior and amateur ranks - as well as his own youth teams - to replenish the squad. Victory against Peterhead was a victory for resourcefulness. "You never really know how a new team will come together and there was a spell when I had concerns but they have proved themselves and are now getting the rewards for it."

At a time when senior clubs are cutting back youth development budgets, even scrapping entire teams, the Queen's Park conveyor belt remains prolific. "We have 30 coaches and half are ex-players," said McGlennan of the enduring spirit of the Spiders. Bobby Dickson, a long-serving legend in these parts, and David McCallum, assist Speirs, while stalwarts such as Graeme Elder and Ross Caven remain heavily involved on the training pitch or in the boardroom. "These guys all have amateur status but the service they provide is professional because we pay for them to gain their coaching badges. We also have a great scouting network and the players we get from all ages are recommended to us by experienced and trusted scouts."

Soon, the prefabricated offices will be replaced by a permanent facility, with Lesser Hampden being used as part of the Commonwealth Games in 2014. It is another sign of progress. "The good thing is the draw against Celtic means we will not have to go into debt as we prepare to move offices," said Jim Hastie, the president. Hastie spent yesterday in discussions which should culminate in a competitive ticketing scale of £15 for adults and £2 concession for the cup tie. "It is a great tie for the club but also because it falls in the centenary year of the Scottish Amateur Football Association."

Following Queen's is a rite of passage. Ask David Stirling, an experienced newspaperman who, at the behest of the late Martyn Smith - Queen's Park chairman and distinguished legal mind - has enjoyed a 30-year odyssey in Mount Florida. "Long suffering is part of the traditions of the club," he said. "Even when we have good teams, we know we are going to lose our best players."

He harks back to 1967, when the all-conquering champions of Scotland and Europe won 5-3 in the Scottish Cup, one of only two occasions when the Lisbon Lions conceded more than two goals that season. There is a more recent link binding the two clubs: Aiden McGeady. Many have laid claim to discovering' the prodigious talent but McGlennan is just happy to have seen his rare skills at their formative stage.

"Two things stick out," he recalled of McGeady's year as a spider. "When he was 13, we brought him and a few others to be runners' at the Largs coaching course. The guest presenter was the head of the Inter Milan academy. After a few drills he turned to me and said: I have worked with many youngsters but, pound for pound, this is the best I have ever seen at that age'.

"The other memory is an under-12 game against Strathaven on a terrible, muddy park," he said. "I said to the coaches who were at the side of the park this boy can play' and they looked at me and then the awful pitch. Within minutes, he took the ball past a player with his left foot, put it on to his right and smacked it past the keeper. It was a great goal.

Two minutes later he did the same thing only starting with his right and finishing with his left. The boy was and is a credit to himself."

McGeady, and the current crop of young pretenders at Hampden, are the embodiment of the Queen's Park motto.