Dolan’s legacy to continue under new Academy bossReading Football Club can confirm that Lee Herron has been appointed to the role of Academy Manager, officially taking the mantle of helping to continue the legacy left by Eamonn Dolan.
“Reading is a club I hold very close to my heart,” said Lee. “The Academy has punched well above its weight in the difficult world of youth development, competing with some of the biggest clubs in Europe, if not the world – something which we are all very proud of. With the support of the football club, the staff and I will keep working exceptionally hard to continue that trend.
“Personally, I feel privileged to have worked alongside a great man in Eamonn for such a long time. That feeling and those experiences will never leave me. It is very rare in life that you get the opportunity to work alongside so many great people in a work place you love, every single day. Thankfully I have that here at Reading Football Club.”
Lee, who celebrated 15 years as a Royals employee earlier this year, learned his coaching trade working closely with Eamonn at every level of our Academy set-up ever since moving across to join our much-lauded youth system from the club’s Community Trust scheme.
Born and bred in Reading, Herron first joined the club back in January 2001 when he took a part-time position within our ‘Football in the Community’ department. He came through the ranks to take charge of the department, guiding our Community Scheme through a transition into its current charitable trust status.
Simultaneously, he notably began a role within the Academy – at the time managed by Nick Hammond and later led by Brendan Rodgers – working with an Under-9s group that included Jordan Obita. Eamonn Dolan’s arrival in 2004 saw Herron take charge of older age groups and nearly seven years ago he took a full-time role within our Academy to work alongside David Dodds as Assistant Academy Manager – overseeing and playing an active part in the progress of all the age groups within our Academy system.
Lee added international experience to his resume – working with our Academy youngsters across a whole host of competitions throughout Europe, leading groups of young players on tours to the United States, whilst gaining a global coaching education and sharing Reading Football Club philosophies across the world – in fact just last summer he joined the first team group that travelled out to Bangkok in pre-season, where he passed on his expertise in a coaching session run with more than 200 young aspiring footballers from Thailand.
And Obita became just one of a host of young players whose careers have been helped by Herron during their burgeoning careers in Berkshire; Lee has been in part responsible for the successes of international stars such as Gylfi Sigurdsson, Shane Long and Hal Robson-Kanu, previous ‘Player of the Season’ winners Alex Pearce and Obita as well as former club captain Jem Karacan. He has been important in achieving a return on investment for our Academy, both in the export of talented Academy products such as Michael Hector and Aaron Tshibola, and in terms of helping to shape the club’s future with some of its latest young prospects…Josh Barrett, Tennai Watson, Jake Cooper and Dominic Samuel to just mention a few.
And on the pitch, Herron has certainly achieved results. Alongside Martin Kuhl, he helped coach our Under-21s side to promotion to the top flight and played a big part in guiding the same side to U21 Premier League Cup glory, lifting the trophy with a win over Manchester City at the Madejski in 2014. And Lee also helped to lead our Under-18s to the FA Youth Cup semi-final stage in the same year – an enthralling quarter-final win over Liverpool ensuring our young players would take this club further than ever before in the competition.
Herron has also played an invaluable role in helping to initially earn and recently retain Category One status at Reading Football Club. He project managed the submission back in 2013, when the club were granted the highest grade in the Elite Player Performance Plan structure. And his hard work was again recognised in June 2016 when our Category One ranking was rightfully retained.
Chief Executive Nigel Howe said, “I am delighted that Lee has accepted the role of Academy Manager, a position of real importance within the structure of this club. His total devotion to our Category One Academy over a long period of time has not once wavered and he has played a pivotal role in making our youth system the admiration of so many others and the undoubted success it is today.
“In every meeting I’ve attended with the Premier League, I hear Lee complimented on his positive approach and dedicated involvement in the Elite Player Performance Plan process - and his hard work played a fundamental part in the renewal of our Category One status earlier this summer. I am certain that with Lee in charge, the reputation of our Academy will continue to go from strength to strength.”
In Eamonn’s absence last season, Lee admirably took the reins and drove our Academy forward in the Dolan mould – with his mentor’s philosophy and values at the heart of everything he did. That will continue with Lee Herron as our new Academy Manager.