BLOG – Chester Youth Development

Youth development is a funny kind of thing for the ordinary fan. We all like to know that it is happening, but often we’re not completely sure what it is that is going on. Of course, we know that there are players and training sessions and matches, but how does this all fit in with the rest of the club?

Of course, The Blue & White has looked at the youth setup in the past (in issue 2 which is now available for £1 in our shop – nothing like a good plug eh?) and in its embryonic stages it all seemed to be going well. And, after popping down to the Mold Alex Reserves v Chester Youth game, it appears to be going even better.

The youth setup is definitely run in the right way. The Mold Alex friendly is a great example of how the guys who run the youth setup do things. The team that Mold Alex put out was a reserve team that contained a lot of adults. This was exactly what the Chester youth guys wanted as it allows the under 18s to experience playing against Mold’s tough (to put it kindly) tackling and have a taste of playing against players who are a lot bigger than they are. After all, if they break into the first team within the next year or two, they’ll be playing older and bigger opponents anyway.

It was great to see the youth team comfortably outplay Mold. The 4-1 scoreline actually flattered the Alex a bit as the Blues completely controlled the game from start to finish and had a devastating 15 minute spell early in the second half where they scored three of their four goals. The team has evolved into a much more coherent unit since the last time I saw it; the effort the youth guys have put have put in to continually improve standards has clearly been paying off.

Yet, this doesn’t quite answer the question I posed in the first paragraph. The youth setup at Chester is extremely good and being run in the right way, but is it fully linked into the club?

I think that it is fairly obvious that at boardroom level it is a vital part of the club. Mark Howell, who sadly has stepped down as a director of the club, but will carry on his involvement in the youth setup, has been intimately involved and done a fantastic job in getting fantastic people involved with Chester FC youth. It’s not just the CVs of those involved that is often impressive though, but the enthusiasm they have for Chester FC and youth development. Go to any youth game and you’ll not just see those running the age group there, but also the coaches from other age groups too.

But, to go back to the question and stop digressing, what level of integration is there with the first team? Well, it’s not too bad at all. Currently there are four players who train with the first team from the youth team (off the top of my head it’s: Joe Ormrod, Jordan Grace, Sean Miller and Dave Griffiths – but I might be wrong) and there are several more players who look like they will be able to get there within a year or two. So, there are lots of incentives for the youth team players to carry on progressing.

As for players breaking into the first team soon, that’s a little bit more unclear. Of course, there’s a lot of hype around Ormrod after his screamer against FC United and trial for Fulham, but it’s up to Neil Young (and his coaches) as to whether he’s ready or not. I’d like to see one player (at least) be a fairly regular by the end of the season, but I’m probably being unrealistic. There have been murmurings surrounding a reserve/development squad for a little while now, so what we might see is that announced towards the end of the season. This will allow us to keep our best young players and give them a smaller step up, before making another step up to the first team.

But, of course, it’s always difficult to say why one player makes it and another doesn’t. It’s dependent on injuries, form, timing and luck. Ideally we’ll develop a youth system and club philosophy similar to that of Crewe, but it takes time to enact these things. The short term always rules in football and with the club aiming for another promotion, we might have to wait until the team is more settled in a division to see a Crewe-like model emerge.

Hope you enjoyed my ramblings. (I should point out that we actually edit the fanzine so it reads a lot better than this blog does!)

Richard Bellis

About Richard Bellis

Richard is a masters student at UCL who studies the History and Philosophy of Science. He graduated in Philosophy from the University of Leeds. His first Chester game was the promotion winning match against Scarborough in 2004, which he watched on top of a van outside the stadium. He has written for various websites including When Saturday Comes, In Bed With Maradona and The Two Unfortunates.

12 Responses to “BLOG – Chester Youth Development”

  1. peter gunningham July 12, 2012 at 9:30 pm #

    You mention cv’s of those running the youth team.

    Who are they and what is on their cv’s?

    Pete

    • Richard Bellis
      Richard Bellis July 13, 2012 at 5:27 pm #

      Well, I don’t want to publish their personal details on here.

      However, the Head of Youth Development (who was interviewed in issue 2 of the fanzine), Bernard Concannon, is a Man U academy scout and formerly worked at Crewe. Needless to say he knows what he’s doing and has put a good team of coaches together.

      • Pete July 15, 2012 at 11:21 am #

        But Mr Concannon isn’t managing the youth team.

        Who is actually the manager of the youth team? No-one I know seems to know!

        • Richard Bellis
          Richard Bellis July 18, 2012 at 8:32 am #

          The u18s manager is Paul Griffiths.

          • Pete July 18, 2012 at 10:23 am #

            I know of him – he’s a very good guy!

  2. antony galligan July 18, 2012 at 3:09 pm #

    Chester youth set up is up there amongst the best in non leaguea credit to the coaching staff,the recent wrexham result speaks volumes to draw 0-0 in there backyard against a very good side,whom are training every day as a full time club shows what they can produce,my lad plays for the youth i wont mention names as he prefers to shun any limelight,and currently trains with the 1sts,he had a host of clubs interested,after he had trials with man city and was signed to blackburn rvrs as a under14 15 and 16,he still has interest frm Bury ,stockport cty, Bradford city and Hyde,with 2 of these offering wages but loves attending chester fc and its not abt money ,its abt being at a club that is ambitious and fwd thinking,once full time its important to develop kids technically up to undr 12,i hope cfc get a few lads through as obviously to attract top youth plyrs its important that the club is seen 2 be giving youth an oppurtunity,its difficult when u are trying to get back to league status to put faith in young lads,i knw definatly there are 3 or 4 great prospects in the current set up that could step up. good luck to all of them for the season.

  3. Martin Alderton July 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    So who are the players who look like they may ‘break through soon’ ? Who are the best prospects beyond those four who are already training with the first team ?

    • Richard Bellis
      Richard Bellis July 22, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

      For me the four players that are training with the first team have the best chance: Callum Mooney (not Dave Griffiths as I put in the article), Joe Ormrod, Jordan Grace and Sean Miller. Mostly because Young sees them a lot more. I think that Connor Pleavin (winger), Dave Griffiths (centre mid) and the other centre back (can’t remember his name) are great prospects.

      Overall though, it’s difficult to say without seeing them playing with the first team. I’d really like to see some of the lads play in the friendlies – we have plenty of them after all. Also, I think a reserve team is really important for next year. There’s no point in letting players who will be good enough for Chester go just because they’re not in the right age group anymore.

      • Pete July 23, 2012 at 5:58 am #

        Its Carl Pleavin!

        • Richard Bellis
          Richard Bellis July 23, 2012 at 4:23 pm #

          Sorry!

  4. Bernard Concannon January 4, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    Gents,
    Great blog by the way,stumbled across it a year or so late though.
    Time has passed quickly and the Chester Fc Youth & Juniors section of the club is virtually complete and prosperous.
    Time for a re-visit ? A update for the fans etc ?
    We are always eager to help out.
    Bernard.

    • Richard Bellis
      Richard Bellis January 5, 2014 at 12:51 pm #

      Good idea Bernard, especially with Peers and Sean Miller starting to break through into the first team. Congratulations for that by the way!

      I’ll have a chat with Neil and we’ll sort something out.

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