A massive “well done” to our U21’s and Jay Roper on winning the HKL North Midland Football Development League Title after last years runners up. Our 5-year plan is set and as we near the end of Y1 this is simply a bonus. The real achievement is getting 1/3rd of the first team squad places for U21’s and getting 23 different U21 players a first team place this season. That is for us the real test of football development. Jay Roper has worked tirelessly and a young manager working for the FA on Curriculum & Course Development he is putting theory in to practice here at our club, his local club, and its worked a treat. Brett Marshall has bought in to our ethos without question. Balancing the Step 5 football demands, wanting to win games and honours against youth development is a huge test for any NCEL manager in what is without doubt now the most competitive it’s been for years. To his credit, Brett has not once asked for an over age player to drop down and play for the U21s nor has Jay asked for an over age player to play for our U21’s nor we believe would he ever do so.

Next season we will have Step 5 football. We will maintain our U21 status and we will be entering a team in to the Central Midlands Reserves League with the aim of winning it and then being able to have a team in the Central Midlands League at Step 7. The combination of those 3 teams will provide football for 40-50 players a week and there can be no doubt, the vast majority will be U21’s. There will be transition from U21 football to reserves, it may even be U21 to the 1st team. There will be places for first team injured players in the reserves, something we haven’t been able to do this season. The strategy is simple, to have 3 teams with the ability for us to develop the U21’s, to get players playing for the club who will play for the badge and not the dollar.

Last night we had over 130 at Inkersall Rd to see our U21’s lift the title. This week there were 20-NCEL games. Our attendance last night beat 17 of the attendances for those NCEL games. That just portrays the huge strides this football club has and is making. You lot are just phenomenal, many thanks.

This is about encompassing and enjoying the fruits of our clubs efforts, about Jay and his lads being proud. We have a load of helpers who all do their bit to allow things like this to happen. Snip, in his 70’s with his wife Margaret was at the club at 7AM this morning cleaning the dressing rooms out for the CFC Youth game. Rich and young Aaron all chipping in to help all contribute to the team effort. We have a great chain of people. Yesterday/last night Ele was busy preparing the scene, facilities and the food and the lasses serving the snap up and Andy/Vaughan spending hours on the pitch. It’s about a chain of people all doing their bit to allow our players to enjoy their football. A break in the chain and it all can go wrong but our chain has remained strong, bound by loyalty and belief.

To you all a massive thank you – well done Jay and the boys – a great achievement.

There is also of course a bit more 1st team and U21 football before a week a Tuesday U21 HKL NMFDL Cup Final at Sheffield FC 745PM KO when our youngsters play AFC Mansfield U21. We are the Cup holders and we wish our U21s the very best of luck in trying to once again win honours. We do hope you will pop along and support our lads.

Up The Trojans!