Much has been made over recent years when the Alex have fielded Ďall Academyí 11s or when we have put out teams with 5 or 6 youngsters. Yet for our 3 league matches this season 9 of the starting 11 had their first professional contracts with us (Iím including Will and Ryan in this), albeit one being the senior citizen Murphy! Itís also the case that the other players are both relative youngsters compared with the Hunts and Greens of the past 2 seasons - Beckles is 28 and Mandron only 25.

The average age of the first team has, as a result, been 23. The bench for the last match also had 5 players aged between 20 and 23.

I think that this is not only a credit to these young players and the Academy coaches, but also to Dave and Kenny. It takes some courage and faith to stick with these youngsters in your first job as a manager and that faith has been amply rewarded. Yes, it means that we will lose some players far too early for us to enjoy them to the full but, whilst I miss Gorgeous George Cooper and his overhit crosses and poor decisions interspersed with great assists and wonderful moments, if he hadnít left then Kirky and Dale wouldnít have had their chance to do the same! And, at present, itís working well, with a few more in the pipeline.