We are at the start of a historic week for the Club with our Youth Cup Quarter Final against Arsenal at the Emirates on Thursday...
First off, what a fantastic achievement from everyone involved, not least as we are a Category 3 Academy, but reaching this stage is thoroughly deserved on the basis of our performances to date. It is a real testament to the hard work of countless people over many years. Dom, Jimmy and all of the Academy staff deserve enormous credit - along with those who have moved on but played such a big part in getting us to this point, such as Tom Pell. Our Young U’s have already done us proud and I will be kicking every ball with them on Thursday, along with Mark and Adam and many others I am sure.
Almost as remarkable as the Youth Team’s success has been the response to it from you, the fans. To be taking almost 3000 supporters to the game is extraordinary and shows once again what a brilliant fan base we have at this Club. It has been a tough run of late but to have a home crowd of nearly 6000 at the Abbey on Saturday was also fantastic and your support made a massive difference - as it always does. We are pushing on with investing across the Club to improve every area as quickly as we can, and it’s great to see some of this investment in the fan experience at the ground attracting new families and younger fans, in particular.
As you will have recently read, we received planning permission for the Training Ground development and are now moving to the procurement phase with a view to work starting in the close season. Fulfilling the project will require an additional commitment of over £2.5m and we are doing it because we recognise just how important it is for the long-term progression of the Club. Ben and Mark have been integral to the building design process to make sure it is customised and appropriate for our Club needs.
Finally, back to matters on the pitch. We have been on a tough run and although there are reasons for it, no one is looking for any excuses. However, it is often when times are toughest that you have to show resilience, stick together and fight on through. The commitment and the way the coaching staff have dealt with the recent period has been first class. As ever in football, the burden is shouldered most by the Head Coach and Mark has shown real character and leadership throughout this period.
He has been absolutely fundamental to our recent success and all of us, Owners and Board, very much see him as part of our future. We are clearly in a battle but there is a lot of football to come with a third of the season remaining and 45 points still to play for. Saturday’s win showed real grit, determination, collective fight and talent on the pitch, backed by fantastic support off it. Let’s attack the rest of the season together - starting tomorrow at Fleetwood - with that same mentality.
One team, win or lose, United In Endeavour.