Luke's Christmas Message

t’s been a whirlwind 10 months since I joined the football club in February but I have thoroughly enjoyed working hard every day to help this fantastic local football club produce more players for our first team.

The long term plan and philosophy at post 16 is starting to take shape. Firstly we needed better competition for our most talented players, that’s team mates and opposition. Recruitment is getting better and we now have players from all over the world coming to the football club to develop into a better footballer and person. 

We also needed to create a better environment and winning mentality for players to thrive in. I do not have much belief in you need luck and the hard luck stories of men who didn’t make it down the local pub! It’s clear in this modern era that there is lots of talented players out there but they lack the hard work, consistency and drive to be the best player every day. Jamie Vardy didn’t need any luck, he worked hard and performed consistently well enough at lower levels for people to take note of him. Equally, Sir Alex Ferguson’s most talented player he has ever worked with in, Ravel Morrison, has completely fallen off the radar, he hasn’t got the discipline and lifestyle to compete at the highest level.

As a result, we now have an u18s side which sit unbeaten at the top of their league with a group of  Predominantly u17s players and 4 u17s players have made their U21s debuts in recent weeks. Our Future Lions side went on an 8 match winning run against some credible Semi professional sides and some of the international players have featured regularly for our U21s as well. We have also secured a vast majority of our U16s players for our scholarship programmes offering a range of study options for them.

Jack O Connor, Ben Baker and Ben Bradshaw were clearly identified as talented prospects for our first team on my arrival. The easy part is identifying talented players. The hardest part is establishing yourself as a first team player and 16-21 years old is a very difficult time for a player, it’s called “making it”. 

Ben Tosland is a perfect example of a talented player with the right attitude. I spoke with him over the summer and told him to come to our U21s to get noticed by out first team staff. He was a Northampton U18’s player who just missed out on a professional contract and wasn’t sure what was best for him. He took the hard option and soon became involved with the first team pre-season matches quickly. For match practice, he came with our International squad at Yaxley FC and put in an exceptional performance along with Ben Baker. He attitude impressed me, other lads wouldn’t have made those decisions and turned their noses up. Now he has become a regular first team plater at 18 years old and just needs to find the consistency to stay in the side, learn from his mistakes and he will have a chance of “making it”. All credit to him and I’m delighted for the lad.

Throughout 2017, these players have had their ups and downs but on the whole it’s been progressive. Jack made 5 first team appearances, Ben Baker scored 3 goals at the end of the last season and Ben Bradshaw has been a regular at Corby Town, scoring his first goal for them at the weekend. Whilst Dan Camacho and Callum Snow have featured on the first team bench this season.

A quick word for Paul White, who is a passionate person for this football club and been a fantastic addition to the backroom Staff. Let’s hope 2018 is another progressive year and develops some young players a step closer to first team football as well as a promotion to the National North for our first team.

I would also like to thank everyone for the support around the Academy from all the volunteers to the parents.

Merry Christmas. 

Luke Graham

Head of Academy