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Drummond reflects on Academy’s solid start

15 October 2023

Academy Manager Stewart Drummond looks back at what has been a blistering start for the U18s.

After 11 games, the young Shrimps remain unbeaten with an impressive record of 10 wins and one draw in all competitions.

The only time our U18s have dropped points was when Salford City made the trip to North Lancashire and left with a point after a 0-0 draw, despite Morecambe being reduced to 10-men and then missing a penalty late on.


Shrewsbury (A)


Stockport County (H)


Sheffield United (A)


Carlisle United (H)


Oldham Athletic (A)


Rochdale AFC (A)


Blackpool (A)


Rochdale AFC (H)


Walsall (A)


Salford City (H)


Huddersfield Town (A)

Drummond, who represented the Shrimps as a player for 17 years, delved into the reasons why this group of players have enjoyed such a successful start.

He said: "It is easy to take the success at U18 level in isolation, but there are lots of things that have taken place to put that group in the position they are now.

"Moving to Category 3 in 2017 has given us the ability to sign young players to our academy from U9s and one of the big benefits is that a large percentage of our own players are now being offered scholarships at the end of their U16 season.

"For the last two seasons, we are over 80% transition from U16 to the full-time programme at U18s. The time spent together through the system here means they are much better equipped to move into full-time scholarships with us; the players know each other, know the staff and the way in which we are trying to play the game.


"The development of our player care provision with Sam and Joe leading the department is widening the impact we as an academy can have on all the players, those who progress through to scholars and those who move into different pathways we now hope are more prepared for whatever are their next steps.

"The work done from Charlotte, Liam and the sports science and medical team is improving year on year and we are looking to continue this progress, impacting more players across the age groups. The decision to employ a full-time Head of Recruitment for the academy was taken in 2021, with recruitment at all ages being the number one driver in improving standards across the age groups.

"Andrew Ferguson has joined us this season in this role, having previously been working at Sunderland. I have known Andy for a number of years and I am sure he will have a positive impact across the academy."

After starting as an age group coach within the Academy in 2017, Lead PDP Coach Ollie Ras has grown within the setup, and Drummond was quick to pay tribute to him.

"Just as having players with us for an extended period helps the processes so does having staff around who know the players, club and the way we want to operate," he added.


"There have been lots of staff come and go, a number we are pleased to see progress to our first team as staff and others onto bigger clubs, but the consistency of staffing we have at U18s with Ollie, Neil and Charlotte working together has had a big impact on putting the group and academy where it is now."

With a large portion of the season remaining, it's important for the players to remain grounded and not get carried away with their current form.

Recent players to make the jump from Academy to first team football include the likes of Adam Mayor and Cameron Rooney, who scored on his professional debut against Barrow AFC.

Taking these factors into consideration, Drummond emphasised the importance for the group to stay level headed and focused.

The 47-year-old continued: "Young players are constantly reminded of what it takes to become a professional footballer and even more difficult is staying in the game after that first contract.

"Getting a scholarship at 16 is one step on the ladder, the awarding of a first professional contract or extended scholar is the next, however to be termed a professional footballer means to be making a meaningful contribution to the first team; 50 appearances for the first team is where we see the threshold to this.

"It's great and really positive for the youth team at the moment and it is a good group of players and people more importantly on and off the pitch.

"No-one connected to the group is getting carried away though, our aim as Academy staff is always to work on developing players to get to the point of being ready for a first team."

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