Frickley Academy’s success story

Frickley Athletic chairman Gareth Dando with Academy head Allan Howcroft.
Frickley Athletic chairman Gareth Dando with Academy head Allan Howcroft.

People are quick to talk about negatives in life but are not as quick to recognise the positives and successes. But in the first 18 months since the Frickley Academy FC was formed, they have made massive strides and will continue to raise the standards of the club on and off the field, for their youngsters and the local community to benefit.

The success story started two years ago when Gareth Dando, chairman of Frickley Athletic, and Allan Howcroft, who at the time was a coach at Moorthorpe Rangers JFC and a scout for Sheffield United FC, were speaking about junior football in SESKU.

Allan put his thoughts across about how the area was lacking an academy, which Frickley Athletic FC were capable of having.

This through its semi-professional status unlike standard junior football clubs in the area, because it could then be linked to a professional club as a feeder.

Two months later Allan was asked by the directors of Frickley Athletic FC to set up an academy with a 10-year plan of raising the standards of junior football in the area and hopefully producing semi-professional players if not full -time professionals.

Also with the £650,000 development of new changing rooms and community facilities at the ground, an academy structure would give them the full package.

The academy would be based on professional club structures, which includes more highly qualified coaches, more opportunities on and off the field, quality facilities, educational programmes and hopefully the link to a professional club. Both parties agreed and the academy was formed in the summer of 2013.

Allan explained: “From day one of the academy starting we have provided the best opportunities available, including facilities, pitches, training, coaches, physio, mini bus, youth clubs and weekend trips away.

“We have strict guidelines as to the extreme level of qualifications that all our coaches need to have. All the people involved go through rigorous checks before they can come on board.

“Frickley Academy FC obtained FA Charter Standard within the first six months and is now working towards greater levels of values and achievements.

“We expanded from two teams to four within the first 12 months and plan to have six teams for the start of next season.

“When the new building is completed, hopefully in Autumn 2015, the academy has further development plans to have teams doing other sports along with gym and circuit session as well individual educational classes for teams above 13 years of age.”

Allan is also looking to expand into local schools to hopefully form links to help each other.

To measure the success of the academy on the field, Allan, who has now finish working with Sheffield United FC and other professional clubs to devote his efforts to endeavour Frickley Academy FC long term plans, has seen a good dozen or so players doing well in the development centres of a few professional clubs with some surpassing expectations into the full academies.

After the first full season under 11s player Harry Mills signed a one-year contract with Sheffield Wednesday and more recently under 12s player Rhys Hughes has agreed to sign a contract with Barnsley FC for the rest of the season.

Brad Dockerty, of the under 19s earned a trial with Barnsley FC while Sam Cable has impressed and earned several call-ups to play for Frickley Athletic’s senior side.

In the under 10s at least four players are attending development centres at Huddersfield Town, Barnsley and Rotherham United.

Professional clubs attend the academy’s matches as well as speaking to Allan on a regular basis.

Off the field Allan would like to thank Gareth Dando and also has special praise for everyone in the academy set-up for making it successful, committee member and fellow director Penny Wall, child welfare officer Lindsey Williamson, coaches Jake White (U19s), Robert Woollard (U12s), Robert Dawson (U12s), Darren Greene (U10s), Mark Studd (U7s) and Keith Mayne (U7s), club physio Robert Lowbridge and all the helpers and parents .

Recently Phil Winter (committee), Mick Daley (coach) and Anthony Jackson (coach) have also committed their services to Frickley which will help continue the success story.

Anyone interested in joining this ambitious club can contact Allan Howcroft on 07971 886223 as they are always looking for new helpers, kids, teams and sponsors to come on board.

Also if any clubs would like to discuss joining forces Frickley would be keen to talk as they plan big opportunities within the area.