This is my first blog so I will start by saying a bit about myself. I’m 18-years-old and come from Bolton. I was at the Blackburn Rovers Academy for a while and then got the chance to join the Youth Team as an Apprentice at Carlisle United where I’m now in my second year. I play as a centre-back and this season I am captain of the Youth Team. Things are going quite well for us at the moment as we are still in both Youth Cups and currently in third place in the league. Hopefully that will continue!
A couple of weeks ago we had a game in the FA Youth Cup at Accrington Stanley. If I’m honest, we didn’t play too well as a team but we kept plugging away and managed to win the game by 3 – 0. Defensively we did alright, but our football never really got going and we made it hard for ourselves. Ah well, it was a really wet night and we were all pleased to make it through to the third round!
The Youth team were all given two days off… but I only got the one as I was down to play for the Reserves on the Wednesday. I went home for the day, which is always good, then got myself back in good time so that I could prepare for the match.
Match: Burnley Reserves v Carlisle United Reserves
We played Burnley away in the Reserves, a match that’s always a good test. They play their games at Accrington Stanley’s ground so it was twice in three days that some of us had been there. We drew 0 – 0 and I felt that we played quite well.
It’s always good to play beside some of the senior professionals, they look after us and talk to us a lot so it’s a cracking experience. I enjoy the Reserve games as it is a slightly higher tempo than at Youth level, and it’s always good to test yourself.
Thursdays we go to college, which most of us enjoy if we’re honest. We know how important the NVQ’s and other qualifications are that we can achieve so we all take it seriously. It was also good to be able to sit down and rest after having had two games in the space of three days… but don’t tell the boss that!
Friday was all about training and getting ready for the Youth Alliance Cup game against Mansfield Town. That’s a competition that we want to do well in, and also one that we want to stay in for as long as we can so, again, we put plenty of work in to our practice sessions ahead of the game.
Youth Alliance Cup Match: Carlisle United v Mansfield Town
We won the game against Mansfield Town 2 – 1, but we made it really hard for ourselves. It was freezing cold but at least it didn’t rain. It’s another game where we didn’t play well, and I think we became frustrated when we didn’t score an early goal.
I’d go as far as to say that it was one of our worst performances this season, but we stuck at it and ground out a 2 – 1 win. That’s a real positive that we can take from it, with the lesson to be learned that we could easily have thrown it away when we let them back in in the second half.
I came in to train with the Youth team as usual on the Monday and got a massive surprise when I was told that I was going down to Millwall with the first team. I had to run back to the digs and get my tracksuit and overnight stuff, and to say that I was quite excited about it all wouldn’t really do it justice.
The first team trained at the Club on Monday dinnertime before we went down to London and myself and Jonny Blake, another Youth player who also went, joined in with that. We then went on the coach and were made to feel really welcome by the first team squad.
Match: Millwall v Carlisle United
The day of the Millwall game – we lost 1 – 0 but I really enjoyed the experience of being around the first team and seeing how they prepare for a game and everything else that goes with it. For me, on a personal level, I got some more unbelievable news. I was asleep at the hotel, just before we set off for the pre-match stuff, and my phone started to vibrate. It was Eric Kinder, our Head of Youth, and he told me I’d been selected to join the Scotland U19s on a training camp in December. There will be some really good players there from top clubs so I’m really looking forward to it. My mum’s side of the family are all Scottish, so I qualify that way.
Back to earth with a bump and a half! We got back from Millwall at 5.30am and I had to be in to train and work with the Youth team at the normal time. Funnily enough I didn’t feel that tired during the day, but there was nothing going to wake me once I got back to my digs after the evening meal.
Back to college again on Thursday so not much to report really. There was no training or anything like that, just plenty of coursework to catch up on. It tends to be the case that we start to think about the weekend game on a Thursday, so our minds had already turned towards that.
I’m delighted to say that I got more great news on Friday when I found out that I was included with the first team squad again for the trip to Grays Athletic. It was the FA Cup first round replay game that was abandoned due to floodlight failure two weeks ago, and the manager told me that he wants to include me in the squad. Yet again there are plenty of butterflies but, as I have already said, it’s a fantastic experience to see what the first team does and how they prepare. I’m looking forward to it already!