Mick Wadsworth would be “horrified” if lower-league clubs scrapped youth systems

Manager Mick Wadsworth looks angry as Pools go 2-0 down at home to Wycombe Wanderers. Picture bY FRANK REID
Manager Mick Wadsworth looks angry as Pools go 2-0 down at home to Wycombe Wanderers. Picture bY FRANK REID

MICK Wadsworth admits he would be “horrified” if Hartlepool United ever considered scrapping their youth system.

There has been some suggestion of late that lower-league clubs would be better placed pumping their ever-diminishing revenues elsewhere, primarily into the scouting and recruitment of players who fail to make the grade at top-flight academies.

But that is a notion which Wadsworth – whose own coaching career is rooted in the development of young players – has dismissed, insisting clubs such as Hartlepool have a “moral obligation” to the people of their town to provide a platform for local talent.

In an interview with SportMail at yesterday’s Hartlepool United Golf Day at Wynyard, an event which raises money for the club’s Youth Development Programme, the manager said: “The youth development at this club is of absolute, paramount importance.

“Other than the first-team doing well it’s the second most important thing on my side of the fence.

“I’ve always had a close relationship with youth development in my formative years, both with the FA and at Barnsley.

“Wherever I’ve worked I always try to give a lot of my time to the youth programme.

“I do have concerns, though. I’m worried that Premier League clubs will be able to set up satellite centres anywhere they want again and I don’t think that’s right or fair.

“I’m speaking on the Pro License course in January so that will be a good chance for me to bring these issues up.

“It’s a situation where I think some lower-league clubs might just abandon youth programmes below 16 years old and just hoover up released players from bigger clubs.

“It horrifies me the idea of scrapping your youth system and concentrating on picking up Premier League academy players who are released.

“That’s not because of the practicalities of it, because there is a lot of common sense in it in terms of economics and fiscal policy.

“But God help us all if that happens – it would be a very disappointing day if it did.”

Pools already boast three home-grown players in their senior ranks in the form of Antony Sweeney, Adam Boyd and James Brown, while Evan Horwood and Peter Hartley have returned to their hometown club.

And Wadsworth argues it is because of that talent Pools must continue to nurture the area’s youngsters.

“I think as a club we have a moral obligation to deal with the kids in our area,” he went on.

“And we’d be foolish not to because it’s been a rich source of talent for as long as I’ve known.

“When I was a kid playing in Barnsley’s youth team you’d come to Hartlepool and know you were in for a helluva tough game.

“One of my best players as a youth coach was Ian Knight, he was an under-21 international and a Hartlepool lad, so there’s always been good players from this area.

“Look at Sweeney, Boyd and Brown now. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing local players come through and we will continue to strive towards that here.”

FULL story in Thursday’s Mail ...