Grimsby Town’s Head of Youth Robbie Stockdale is looking to further the success of his side from last season.
The arrival of newly signed first year Apprentices has brought nothing but excitement to Stockdale as he conducts their pre-season campaign.
“It’s the best part of the job being on the training pitch and working with the young players,” said Stockdale.
“We started a few days before the first team so the new lads weren’t overawed by things; a few of them were naturally nervous like the first day at a new school.”
“But I think they’ve enjoyed it so far.”
“It’s hard because a lot are adjusting to training every day.”
“Some are still only 15-years-old but they’ve all got individual programmes as well and the senior lads can help them settle in.”
Stockdale’s debut season saw his youngsters progress all the way to the FA Youth Cup Fourth Round where they were eventually seen off in extra-time by Newcastle United.
A respectable league campaign resulted in a third spot finish in the Youth Alliance North East Conference and their success on the pitch was rewarded, as four Apprentices were handed their first-team debuts when Paul Hurst and Rob Scott took the reigns of the Blue Square Bet Premier outfit.
ASE graduates Charlie I’Anson, Sam Mulready and Andi Thanoj were all handed professional deals with Conor Marshall still in the hunt for a contract.
Stockdale continued: “It was great that the lads got their chance and then earned contracts because that is what we are striving for at Youth level, to produce footballers.”
“There were several others close to getting deals as well from that team and that is a great boost for the work we do and the effort they all put in.”
“That’s an incentive for the squad this year, to follow in their footsteps.”
He added: “Six boys are moving up from first to second year YTs and they can help set a good example.”
“Players like Dayle Southwell, who also had his first-team debut last season, can help the younger players as they step up to full-time training.”
“We want to give the youngsters here the best chance of becoming footballers and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Charlie I’Anson, Sam Mulready and Andi Thanoj who were with us last year and got offered professional deals.”