This article is taken from the official match programme for the game against Peterborough United on May 3.As another season draws to an end, I feel I can reflect on what has been another reasonably successful one from our point of view.
When you see the emergence of Carl Winchester, Joel Coleman and Danny Philliskirk as first team regulars this season, the introduction of Devante Jacobs and Jack Tuohy to the squad as well as the continued involvement of David Mellor, Jordan Bove and Jack Truelove then this makes us all in the academy very proud people and reiterates that we are doing something right in picking players that come through our youth programme.
However, for these lads to progress the way they have, you need a club and a managerial philosophy that is prepared to give young players a chance. On that note I would like to thank the board of directors and managers Lee Johnson, Dean Holden and their staff for having the courage in what is a very demanding and not very patient business for being prepared to give our own young players a chance.
The signal this sends out is immense because young players who sign for Oldham Athletic will get the opportunity if they are good enough. Also, a big thank you to Ben Ingham of the Safeguard Group, our academy sponsors, and to Rob Schofield at Pentagon for their continued and valued support.
On the pitch, the youth team have overall done well this season. For the first time we have won the Youth Alliance National Cup competition in what was a fantastic spectacle on Monday evening. Apart from the FA Youth Cup, this is the biggest national cup competition that we compete in so to reach the grand final against MK Dons and to actually win it is a fantastic achievement.
Out of the second year group, congratulations go to Jack Tuohy, Devante Jacobs and Danny Byrnes on gaining a professional contract. I am sure they will agree that they could not have achieved this without the help they have had from their teammates, some of who have unfortunately not been offered anything going forward.
We are now in the process of trying to help and guide these lads in achieving positive outcomes elsewhere. We wish them well for the future whatever they decide to undertake in the the next chapter of their lives.
I keep using the word 'we' because the youth department is very much a collective. I would like to thank Simon Cooper, Pete Wild, Philip McGrath, Anthony Gray, Josh Ollerenshaw, Anthony White, Natalie Seaton, Tanya Blakey, Paul Ogden and all his scouts, all our landlords and landladies as well as all the coaches and staff throughout the academy for the excellent work they do, day in, day out, for the benefit of the club.
Without their dedication and support, we certainly would not have one of the best and most successful youth programmes in the Football League.
Our results as a category three academy in the audit process were excellent (one of the best in the country I have been told) and we think our record over a number of years is more than comparable with any other Football League club.
We have a philosophy, drive and distinct formula which we feel produces players not only for League One but also gives them the ingredients needed to progress to a higher level. We also feel we produce good people, a trait we place a big emphasis on.
In finishing, I wish you all a relaxing summer break and hope to see you all back next season supporting the club through challenging but exciting times.