JOHN BYRNE, Marco Gabbiadini, Richard Cresswell and Graeme Murty are all well-documented yesteryear examples of York City’s once thriving youth department.

In more recent times, the club have been fire-fighting, with considerable help from apprentices’ parents and volunteer coaches, to preserve junior football at Bootham Crescent following relegation from the Football League and the subsequent withdrawal of central funding.

Nevertheless, the likes of current Premier League goalkeeper David Stockdale and striker Adam Boyes, sold to Scunthorpe for a six-figure sum, still emerged during the eight-year non-League era.

Now, academy manager Steve Torpey believes the club’s decision not to follow the example of many of their contemporaries, who dropped out of the League, by scrapping junior football can quickly restore the Wigginton Road conveyor belt of talent to past glories.

Torpey’s under-18 team are currently riding high in the Football League Youth Alliance’s north east division, having started the season unbeaten in their opening five fixtures, beating the likes of Burton, Notts County and Rotherham.

And, while, near neighbours Doncaster have spent the best part of a decade rebuilding their youth programme after dispensing with the department in the Conference, City have been able to implement English football’s new Elite Player Performance Plan this season with minimal disruption.

The appointments of Richard Dryden as head of academy coaching and former centre-back and community team member Darren Kelly, who will oversee under-12s to U16s development, have helped the club meet EPPP category three criteria, which will mean City can access an unprecedented £200,000 of funding towards their provision of youth football.

Tom Robinson has also been given the job as full-time academy physio while another coach has been identified to work with the under-nine to 11 age groups in a role that will encompass some community team duties as well.

Other part-time coaching posts will be filled shortly too, as City’s potential stars of tomorrow benefit from the biggest-ever investment in youth football at Bootham Crescent.

On the positive implications of past actions on the present and future, Torpey said: “Because the club decided to keep the youth team going, it makes my life a lot easier now.

“We have to thank the chairman and board of directors for that. We’ve had a review every year since I’ve been here and, if we had started afresh after winning promotion back to the Football League, it would have taken two or three years to put everything back into place.

“Doncaster scrapped their youth programme and are only just reaping the rewards of relaunching it after getting back into the Football League in 2003 but we were already doing the majority of things required to meet the EPPP’s category three standard.”

Torpey has also welcomed the input of one-time Premier League Southampton centre-back Dryden since the former Worcester City manager’s arrival in North Yorkshire, saying: “With his experience, Richard has come in and done a lot of defensive work.

“He has worked on players’ roles and responsibilities and I believe the boys are enjoying it and have taken it all on board and that’s great because it frees me up to concentrate on the forward side of things more. I was doing it all on my own before but there’s two of us now to bounce ideas off.

“The under-18s are working hard and have started the season really well. I am expecting a good season and I think we have the potential to be contenders in the league even at this early stage.

“I am also hoping we will have one, two or three that will be good enough to be offered a contract, which is the main thing.”

One of the EPPP’s new rules will see higher-categorised clubs able to buy players from the likes of City for a standardised, one-rule-for-all compensation package based on the number of years spent developing the scholar, rather than an tribunal-defined estimate of their potential.

A method of circumnavigating that procedure is to sign players on under-14 pre-scholarship agreements but Torpey doubts the practicality of such contracts at a club of City’s current size.

He said: “That’s a high-risk strategy because players that have the potential at 14 might not be good enough at 16. You would only really do that if you had an outstanding talent on your hands.

“The EPPP was forced through by the Premier League really and benefits the top clubs more than the smaller ones but we will continue to look for the best talent in our area and are hoping to go even younger with under-five, six and seven coaching.”


Jason jaunt

JASON Walker got on The Press Player of the Year leader-board by winning his first points of the season in last weekend’s 2-2 home draw against Chesterfield.

The former Luton striker was our man of the match after claiming an assist for Michael Coulson’s goal and then getting on the scoresheet with his stoppage-time equaliser.

That honour saw Walker pick up three points towards the standings with Coulson (two) and Jonathan Smith (one) also being rewarded against the Spireites.

Dan Parslow, meanwhile, received the two bonus points on offer towards The Press Player of the Month contest after polling the most man-of-the-match votes from visitors to our website.

To be in with a chance of presenting the September Player of the Month with his prize – a framed photograph – on the pitch before a City home game, register your man-of-the-match votes from today’s away match at Exeter or Wednesday’s trip to Burton.

Alternatively, you can also tweet your selections to @daveflettpress The Press Player of the Year latest standings (not including Player of the Month bonus points): Parslow 8, Chambers 6, Ingham 6, C Smith 5, J Smith 4, Coulson 3, Walker 3, Blanchett 2, Taylor 2, Blair 1, Challinor 1, McLaughlin 1.

The Press Player of the Month standings: Ingham 7, Chambers 3, Walker 3, Carlisle 2, Coulson 2, Parslow 2, Taylor 2, Blair 1, McLaughlin 1, J Smith 1.

Goals: Coulson 4, Chambers 3, Walker 2, Blair 1, McLaughlin 1, Parslow 1, C Smith 1.

Assists : J Smith 3, Walker 3, Chambers 2, Parslow 2, Coulson 1, McLaughlin 1, C Smith 1.

Bad boys : Chambers 1 yellow card; Coulson 1 yellow; Doig 1 yellow; Ingham 1 yellow; C Smith 1 yellow, J Smith 1 yellow, Walker 1 yellow.