A run-down of recent youth team successes…It slipped under the radar for many of us – but five players of the starting XI that beat Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion in the FA Cup last month were products of the Reading Academy. A few days later, it was Academy graduate Hal Robson-Kanu that scored the sole goal in our 1-0 home win against Rotherham in the Championship.
Since the Academy first opened at Reading in February 1999, we have grown accustomed to seeing our homegrown players representing the Royals. In addition to the five starters against our top-tier opponents, on the bench was Josh Barrett; currently an Under-18 player, he will be hoping to become the latest on the list of Academy alumni to make his debut in the Reading first team.
Under the guidance of Eamonn Dolan, and along with the help of staff, parents, and the aspiring players themselves, we have an enviable track record when it comes to creating opportunities for young players to flourish. And first-team manager Brian McDermott, who continues to benefit from the locally-sourced talent at his disposal, had nothing but praise for the foundations that have been laid over the years.
“‘Take it for granted’ are the words,” said Royals manager Brian McDermott. “What has happened here since 2000 is incredible. But you can’t take anything for granted, and I don’t. You have to work really, really hard to get to a certain level.
“The Academy players coming through… that’s not an accident. Those guys work their socks off. Eamonn and his boys, the work they have done is amazing. It has been an amazing situation since 2000 if you look at the amount of success this football club has had.
“The youngsters offer great inspiration – for me, for the first-team, for the staff. I love watching them play. It’s fabulous inspiration for all of us, especially with some of the players that have come through over the years.”
Speaking of those Academy graduates – just click here to check out our newly revamped section on our website, where all of those that have made the grade at Hogwood Park and gone on to have a career in the game!
In a recent write-up, Brighton Argus also labelled our Academy as the ‘blueprint’ of how to run a youth system with an end-product – read their write-up by clicking here. And our local news website GetReading also ran a feature on the progress of our setup – click here to read that column.
Craig Tanner, Dominic Samuel, Tariqe Fosu, Sean Long, Dominic Hyam and Jack Stacey have all earned Football League experience out on loan this season – and another Academy product made their professional debut this weekend. Goalkeeper Stuart Moore, who signed on a youth loan with Peterborough, played 90 minutes for the Posh in a League One clash with Swindon on Saturday.
In case you missed it, our Under-18s reached the quarter-final of the FA Youth Cup this season, beating Sheffield United, Fulham and Wolves on the way. Chelsea were ultimately 2-1 winners at Stamford Bridge in the last-eight tie on Friday, taking their record to seven straight appearances in the semi-final. However a second-place finish in the Under-18 Premier League (South) means our boys will take on seven of the best academies in the country to try to claim the league title!
Soccer AM recently featured our Academy on their ‘Last Man Standing’ feature; take a watch of their video above!
You can also take a look around the rebuilt Academy section on our website, which gives a better overview of Under-18s profiles, fixtures and results, latest news from the Academy and other information. Just click here to open the Academy section.