Youth is vital part of Town’s future

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YOUNG players will be at the heart of Bridlington Town’s future in the next few years, supporters were told last week.

The club has set up an under 19 team and an Academy team for the forthcoming season and fans heard at a forum last Wednesday that the aim is to get several teenager players into the Seasiders’ first team squad sooner, rather than later.

The under 19s will play in the Northern Alliance League on Thursdays, with the Academy side, which will feature many of the same youngsters bolstered with a handful of more experienced players, accepted into the East Riding County League Division One.

New first team manager Mitch Cook said: “I’m a great believer in youth, getting young players playing and playing the right way.

“The under 19 league is a strong league, it has good established clubs in it and the teams have kids who are pushing to play in their clubs’ first teams.

“It will be a good test for our young lads and I believe we are getting the structure right for them within the club.”

Dave Grosse, who will manage the under 19 team, said: “My vision is that in the next three or four years, seven or eight players will be in the first team.

“That is the belief I have in these kids.

“There are some really good kids in this area and it’s about time that they were given a chance.”

However, it was stressed that young players would not get preferential treatment just because they are from Bridlington or the surrounding villages.

Cook also outlined how his first team squad was shaping up and said he was ‘delighted’ with the response he had received since his switch from Pickering Town.

He confirmed that Steve Lyon, Scott Phillips and Dave Kemp had left the club, and said midfielder James Bennett was having trials with Conference North side Guiseley.

Leeds-based goalkeeper Ben Saynor, who featured when first-choice Mark Wilberforce was injured last season, has said he will sign forms with Town but because of the travelling involved, he will be playing for Harrogate Railway.

The majority of last season’s players had agreed to re-sign although Craig Palmer is yet to put pen to paper and according to Cook is ‘considering offers from other clubs’ but has been training with Town.

However, six players from Pickering will be following the new manager to Queensgate. They include his sons Nathan and Carl, the latter who will only be available for limited periods of the season because he has a new job working on the oil rigs.

Of the other additions, Cook said Wayne Aziz was a ‘good, honest and reliable’ full-back who played every minute of every game for the Pikes last season, while Ged Dalton was said to be ‘a good footballer who, when he is on form, is as good as anybody.

“I like play to high-tempo, quick passing style of football,” the new boss added.

Meanwhile, chairman Peter Smurthwaite outlined the strength of the opposition facing Bridlington in the Northern Counties East League Premier Division.

He singled out last season’s runners-up Parkgate, newly-promoted Staveley Miners Welfare and Queensgate tenants Scarborough Athletic as big-spending clubs with budgets to put Brid’s in the shade.

“For example, we had a real battle to keep (leading scorer) Craig Hogg at the club,” he said, suggesting that the striker had initially agreed to return to Scarborough before changing his mind after chatting with Cook.

Town’s first pre-season friendly is at home to Stocksbridge Park Steels on July 16, with the league campaign starting on August 6.