Impressive youngsters are lighting the way to a bright future down at Colney Heath
- Credit: Archant
It is now one of the most infamous quotes in football history – “you can’t win anything with kids”.
It was uttered on Match of the Day by the former Liverpool centre-half Alan Hanson back in August 1995 after watching Manchester United lose their opening day fixture to Aston Villa.
Fast forward nine months to May 1996 and the Red Devils lifted not just the Premier League title but also the FA Cup.
Colney Heath might be a long way from Manchester United, and there is certainly no chance of them lifting a trophy this year, but if Saturday’s 3-1 win over Wembley is anything to go by, the crop of youngsters strutting their stuff down at The Recreation Ground have taken an impressive first step in the world of senior football.
The Magpies fielded just three men aged over 25 in the Spartan South Midlands League success, and included two 16-year-olds in their line-up.
They had the perfect start, scoring twice in the opening 15 minutes through Ian Hurst and Harry Shepherd, one of those 16-year-olds, and although Wembley pulled one back with a screamer from Myeongjie Kim, Reece Cameron sealed the win on the stroke of half-time.
Coach Tim Corcoran was pleased with the performance and not just for the goals scored or the hard work put in throughout.
- 1 Council confirms first monkeypox case in Hertfordshire
- 2 Police probe into death of man in 20s at 'Kinky Towers' in Hertfordshire
- 3 Armed police seize machete from Sandpit Lane in St Albans
- 4 Peregrine falcon chick hatches at St Albans Cathedral in a city first
- 5 Success for Harpenden actor after National Youth Theatre audition
- 6 The Crossrail connections to Hertfordshire which were never built
- 7 Hertfordshire teen bullying victim given royal honour
- 8 Return of Harpenden Carnival promises fun for all the family
- 9 St Albans SustFest events aim to boost local nature
- 10 Jubilee garden opened at Harpenden primary school
He said: “The information they were given beforehand they took on.
“The intelligence of the performance as well as the work rate was the really pleasing thing.
“Joe Newton is 16, Harry Shepherd 16 and having Steve Cunningham in goal makes a difference.
“He might not say much but when he does, he says a lot and helps ease the back four.
“The closing down from the front by Reece Cameron made it easier for those behind him.
“They picked the right moments to press but that was made a lot easier by the work that had gone before that.”
The win was the Magpies first in four games but the previous three were against the top three in the division and the results didn’t always match the performance.
And they followed it up on Tuesday night with a similar result away to Edgware Town.
Again they went 2-0 up, thanks to two goals from Carl Carr, before again conceding.
This time it was a late strike from Osamu Allman that clinched the 3-1 win and three more points.
It has lifted Heath up to 11th and, with games in hand on those teams above them, they are starting to look like the top-10 side some predicted before the season started.
The youth players have certainly helped that admitted Corcoran.
“When you look at the team sheet it has changed massively,” he said. “It is almost unrecognisable from that of pre-season.
“It just shows how well the development team and the U18s have been doing to push the youngsters up and Ryan Thompson said from the start of the season he was going to give these players a chance
“That’s really pleasing and again the young lads have come in and we didn’t have to talk about their age. Nobody had to gee them up, the intelligence was fantastic.
“There’s nothing that can replicate playing adult football at 16 or 17.
“The only fear is that people will see them play and want them.
“But the work the club does with the community and bringing the youngsters through does bode well for the future.”
Manchester United proved you can win things with kids.
And while the work Colney Heath are doing probably won’t bring Premier League, FA Cup or Champions League glory to The Recreation Ground, it will bring plenty of plaudits and a much better future for a forward-thinking club.