As Football Clubs and their fans up and down the country geared up for an exciting climax to the season earlier this month, spare a thought for Apprentice players across the land who have been released by their clubs.
At the end of each season around 700 players from the professional game will be shown the exit door by their clubs. And while some are some are veterans, who have enjoyed a long career in the game, between 300 – 400 are youngsters who have failed to even scratch the surface, departing without a single first team appearance to remember them by.
So while Manchester City and Stoke City were making preparations for The FA Cup final, League Football Education had another type of showpiece in mind, hosting three of their four Assessment Trials in that same week.
Staines Town, Hartpury College, Walsall FC and Oldham Athletic’s Boundary Park provided the back-drop as youngsters strutted their stuff in front of a watching army of scouts.
“They (scouts) come out in force for these events,” said LFE Regional Officer Roger Gibbins.
“They’re looking for something that catches the eye maybe on or off the ball, kids with a good attitude and importantly a little bit of technical ability that makes you sit up and think; you know what we can work with that”.
“There are a lot of good players here and they’ve all got something it’s just about going out and trying to show that. All clubs want different things and have different ideas about players so it’s important for the lads to not get disheartened,” he added.
Despite the disappointment of being released by one club many of the young players attending these events were still confident that they have what it takes to make a living in the game;
“It was a low point (leaving Preston) but you can’t let it hold you back for too long, hopefully I can impress someone and get myself another club,” said ex Preston North End defender Fred Holtom.
“It’s nervy going out there, you’re pumping and the adrenalin is going but once you relax and play you get in to your stride and I just hope I’ve caught the eye of someone,” said James Parsonage of Wolverhampton Wanderers.