The achievements of three football development coaches were recognised by the Premier League last week and the newly-named Eamonn Dolan Award was fittingly handed to our Academy Manager Lee Herron!
The Eamonn Dolan Award was established in honour of our former Academy manager, a creative, innovative coach and mentor to so many young players and staff who have come through the ranks at Reading.
Eamonn made a big contribution to the modernisation of youth development and the Premier League's award looks to recognise an individual or a group of individuals making an exceptional contribution to football coaching and/or coach development in football within the Academy environment.
And in the award's first year, three people from different points in the coaching spectrum were honoured.
After 15 years at Reading, Lee Herron was one of that trio of award-winners, having taken up Eamonn's mantle as Academy Manager in September and carring the legacy of Eamonn into a new era at the club.
The other recipients were former Middlesbrough Academy manager Dave Parnaby, who retired this season after being at the club since the Academy was set up in 1998, and Natalie Henderson who became the first female coach to graduate from the Premier League’s Elite Coaching Apprenticeship Scheme (ECAS) and is now the first female coach on the Newcastle United Academy staff.
They all received their awards at the Premier League Coaches Conference at Chelsea’s training ground in Cobham.
“Eamonn was a leading advocate of the idea that we should develop a community of coaches who over time would become world leading,” Premier League Executive Chairman Richard Scudamore told the winners in a letter.
“We believe that we already have many fantastic coaches working in our clubs and there were some very strong nominations for this award.
“The selection group felt your nomination was outstanding and you are fully deserved of this award and will represent Eammon’s legacy as you continue working within the Academy environment.”
Congratulations Lee and all who work alongside you within an Academy set-up which continues to be the envy of so many clubs across the country.