Good times for our Academy
There was a time when Bristol Rovers prided itself on bringing players through the youth system into the first team.
For a number of years, though, the supply of talented youngsters has been reduced to more of a trickle.
True, we have seen the odd one or two make it all the way through to the first team, but it looks as though that’s all about to change and we should really be singing the praises of the work done behind the scenes that is seeing a number of Academy graduates making their mark on John Ward’s squad.
A great deal of hard work, undertaken by a number of people, means that we have a very healthy Academy set up, and a great many talented players coming through.
Take, for example, our game against Port Vale just a few weeks ago when Academy graduates Eliot Richards and Ellis Harrison were in the starting lineup, while Mitch Harding, Jordan Goddard and Ollie Clarke were on the bench as was Tom Lockyer, who is still only a second year scholar.
Mitch and Tom made substitute appearances in that game, of course, and we went on to register a 2-0 win against the team occupying second place in the League Two table.
Ellis, of course, went on to score twice in the game against Rochdale a few days later, and was then called into the Welsh U-21 squad.
All of this was good news for the Academy staff, as assistant Academy manager Matt Bennett explained: “Getting players through the Academy and into the first team is our aim, and to see so many Academy graduates selected for the game against Port Vale gave us all a tremendous boost and a feeling of pride.
“It also helps when, we are competition with other clubs for the signature of younger players because we can point to the fact that if they are good enough there is a clear path through to the first team from our Academy.
“For Ryan Broom, who signed his scholarship forms on the pitch at half time at that game, it was a chance to see, at first hand, the opportunities that could open up for him”