There is a big hope this season that alongside Ellis Chapman, we’ll see the emergence of Jordan Adebayo-Smith as proof that our academy is capable of developing first team players.
It’s been a while since the academy produced more than the odd player each season; that’s no disrespect to the people who do excellent work there, nor those who fought bravely to keep it going through our National League years. Indeed, even keeping the academy going through those six years was a huge achievement, never mind the likes of Connor Robinson and Alex Simmons coming through.
It has got me thinking though about what seemed like a ‘golden age’ of players emerging from our youth setup. Those ‘post-Keith’ years promised so much at first, the electrifying start to 2006/07 will always have a place in my heart. Within a season there had been a change of emphasis, with youngsters being given a chance.
No fewer than seven academy players made their debuts either in the 2007/08 season or just before, what was a turbulent campaign which saw John Schofield sacked, Peter Jackson appointed and then leave temporarily to fight throat cancer. We stayed up after being bottom at one stage and it seemed we were set for a bright future. Lennell John-Lewis and Lee Frecklington were already established with the Imps, but these players came through during that season.
Some ended there, others had decent careers with the Imps. For this Thursday night’s reading, I’m giving you the opportunity to remember the class of ’08.