Muddyman: “We’ve taken a real positive step”

Academy Manager reflects on a productive 18/19 season…

Mark Muddyman

Following the conclusion of a productive and positive 18/19 season for Harriers Academy, U19s manager Mark Muddyman reflected on the highs of a season that saw four Academy players earn first team contracts.

Muddyman was proud of the progress that has been made by the Academy on and off the field in during the season, not only with players progressing through the Harriers pathway, but also on the pitch with numerous teams competing in significant cup runs and league title challenges.

“It’s been a very positive year across the U19s,” said Muddyman.

“Across the board, there was a big mentality shift at the club and we’ve taken a real positive step in the right direction – getting to national cup finals, competing for trophies”

“Every team has achieved a higher league position than last year, with the Floodlit League side getting promoted to the Floodlit North”

“…this year has been a positive step in terms of the quality of the players that we’ve recruited, and how we’ve developed them over the year…” Mark Muddyman

“It’s disappointing not to have silverware in the U19s this season, but we came very close in a number of competitions, getting to the ECFA Premier Cup final and to get the experience of playing at the Bescott Stadium – also playing Port Vale away in the FA Youth Cup – was really good for the boys”.

Following Harry Higginson and Milan Butterfield’s progression to earn first team contracts at the start of 2019, Harriers recently announced that U19s players Jaiden White and Reiss Taylor-Randle would become part of the first team for the 19/20 season.

Having worked closely with White and Taylor-Randle throughout the season, Muddyman was delighted to see them make the most of their opportunities and witness their hard work rewarded, and is looking forward to seeing them progress further.

“Ultimately, that’s what we’re here to do, to get players out there on the pitch with the first team and this year has been a positive step in terms of the quality of the players that we’ve recruited, and how we’ve developed them over the year,” said Muddyman.

“If we can continue to do that over the next few years then there will be a number of them on the pitch at Aggborough.

“Having a full time first team on our doorstep every day makes this an amazing place to be.

“Last year, [White and Taylor-Randle] could only get out to train with the first team a couple of times a week due to Academic studies but they’ve been given the contracts that they deserve, so now they need to go and secure themselves in the match day squad, and then secure themselves in the starting eleven and go from there.

“If Jaiden White would have got a scholarship at one of the pro-clubs that he was with before, I don’t think he would have the same access to senior football, so being somewhere like this has really accelerated his development, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he’ll kick on”.

Looking ahead to the upcoming 19/20 season, Muddyman is confident that the Academy can continue to go from strength to strength.

“We’ve got some real quality to add to what we’ve already got so it’s an exciting time, and we’re hoping that next year will be even more positive and with a bit of silverware as well,” said Muddyman.

“If they come here for two years of full time training, they give themselves a chance of getting in the first team but if they stay with us and go through the U23s programme, and they get three or four years of full time training with all of the strength and conditioning that comes with that, if they’re patient, then there are real opportunities here at the football club for them”.

WATCH: Mark Muddyman’s full end of season U19s review is available on our Academy YouTube channel.

This article is about: Academy, Youth


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