● – 10 first team debuts
● – A further 5 students involved on the bench
● – 256 players registered
Following on from a record education year at the NPL Football Academy (NPLFA), the on field success has matched what has been achieved in the classroom.
Ten students – Reece Makalele (Radcliffe), Ben Edgson (Matlock), Jordan Pierrepont (Matlock), Jordan Lee (Matlock), Jake Dickinson (Mickleover), Jordan Gilhooly (Mickleover), Harry Wood (Matlock), Euan Woods (Warrington), Billy Silvester (Kidsgrove), Morgan Williams (Mickleover) – made their first team debuts whilst a further five were involved on the bench.
There was also milestones achieved by the Mickleover duo Lewis Belgrave and Jake Dickinson with the former captaining the senior side at just 17 years of age and the latter scoring the first senior goal by a NPLFA student when he put his side ahead in the Derbyshire Senior Cup against Borrowash Victoria.
It was a hugely successful season for Belgrave as he picked up the Player of the Year award as voted for by NPLFA coaches and staff and was rewarded with a one year first team contract and in doing so becoming the first NPLFA student to sign such forms and was followed weeks later by Matlock’s Max Hunt as clubs look to secure their young talents.
The other ten students named in the NPLFA Team of the Year – Jordan Pierrepont (Matlock), Manzoor Amiri (Mickleover), Joe Ruane (Warrington), Morgan Williams (Mickleover), Stephen Stretton (Radcliffe), Scott Taylor (Belper), Adam Leach (Radcliffe), Jordan Lee (Matlock), Euan Woods (Warrington), Jake Dickinson (Mickleover)– enjoyed an evening with their family at the end of season NPL Player Awards in Barnsley, where they were presented with their awards in front of 350 people and streamed to thousands online.
The majority of the students above were involved in the inter-league game against League One side Port Vale in April, where they produced a superb performance led by Mickleover management duo John McGrath and Andy Dales. Goals from Adam Leach and Tyreece Robinson (Mickleover) were the highlights in a narrow 2-3 defeat, held at Kidsgrove Athletic’s ground.
There was a new format in the league, with the expansion on NPLFA clubs and cohorts meant the league was split in two – the JOMA division and CHRYSO division. Matlock Town were the victors in the JOMA division and their Derbyshire rivals Mickleover Sports wrapped up the CHRYSO to set up an inaugural ‘GRAND FINAL’ showpiece game at Leek Town’s Harrison Park, to determine who became the overall NPLFA champions.
A close fought game was decided in the 92nd minute from Mickleover’s Morgan Williams which secured the third successive title for the Academy and lift the ‘Jordan Burndred Memorial Trophy‘ once again.
A new competition – the NPLFA Cup – was introduced in the spring with the final held at Stoke City’s Bet365 stadium. Matlock Town once again made the final and faced Warrington Town in another close fought game, which was settled by the NPLFA’s record goalscorer Euan Woods. His 26th goal of the season won the game and the cup for the Yellow’s in a historic day for Warrington.
The cup winners trophy wasn’t the only piece of silverware won by Woods, as he picked up his successive ‘Golden Boot’ award as he left the Academy scoring a total of 53 goals, a record that will be difficult to beat in years to come.
All of the achievements above were all captured on video for the first time thanks to our video partners, FilmMyMatch. All 142 games were filmed which enabled our coaches to provide detailed analysis and for us to showcase our students in our weekly match highlights show every Friday.
Finally for the first time, ‘Player of the Month’ (POTM) and ‘Goal of the Season’ (GOTS) competitions were introduced and were voted for by the public on social media. The ‘POTM winners were as follows: September/October – Euan Woods(Warrington), November – Joe Ruane (Warrington), December – Billy Whitehead (Matlock), January – Adam Leach(Radcliffe), February/March – Callum Parkinson (Witton), April – Jorge Blemings (Sutton Coldfield), May – John Brown(Warrington), whilst that man Euan Woods again took home the GOTS (viewed by over 62,000 people online) ahead of his strike partner John Brown and Mossley’s Ellis Nield with his over head kick over Matlock Town in the NPLFA.
Overall 256 students took part in the NPLFA with 395 goals scored by 141 players in an incredibly successful season on the pitch.