On Wednesday I tweeted a thread on Twitter, pretty much just saying that I would no longer be able to attend the Spurs Academy matches (home and away), because of other commitments. However I’ll still be writing articles on my blog, with some being historical articles on Spurs, and others being about the Academy, but maybe just not as frequently as before. I’ve always been a very big Spurs fan. I’ve been going to Spurs matches for as long as I can remember. I absolutely love the club and it’s sides at all levels. However, following and attending all of the Spurs Academy matches in my spare time (the Spurs Under 18, Under 19 and Under 21’s matches), all really came about by chance. My father asked me one Friday evening whether I’d like to attend a match in the old Under 21 Premier League, between Spurs’ Under 21 side and Liverpool at White Hart Lane. I was interested to see the game, and so I met him at White Hart Lane, and we watched the game. There was maybe about a thousand or so fellow spectators at the ground. Spurs lost the game 3-1 to a very strong Liverpool side that evening. However, I really enjoyed the match, the experience and watching these players who had already come so far in their careers at Academy level.
From watching that game against Liverpool’s Under 21 side I really started to become interested in the Academy, and I remember the next morning I was checking the scoreline of the Spurs Under 18’s match, while on my way with my dad to the Spurs first team game. And so my interest in the Spurs Academy grew from there really. I was learning a lot about Academy football, following every result, but at that stage I was only really able to get to the occasional Academy games that used to be held at the old stadium. In time, possibly during the next season or so I started to attend more matches at Spurs Under 21 level, and then at Spurs Under 18 level. Going to watch an Under 18 league game at Spurs’ incredible Hotspur Way training ground for the first time was just amazing. It’s so very impressive, and it was without doubt the best training ground that I ever visited while reporting on the academy games. Fast forward and before I knew it I was attending and writing previews and reports on every Spurs Under 18’s and 21’s match, in my spare time. This would last around seven or so seasons, until very recently.
I quickly found out that getting permission to attend some of the away Academy matches at certain training grounds was very, very difficult. Also, getting to so many of those places where the games would take place, by public transport, was in many cases quite challenging to say the least. I’ve got to watch so, so many wonderful footballers play against Spurs at Academy level, who have gone on to achieve great things in the game, so far in their careers. And for Spurs, the Academy players who are currently at the club and who were once at the club, were and are so incredibly talented. The level of technical ability that these players have is just incredible, and you really get to appreciate that by watching the matches week in and week out. Players like goalkeeper and Spurs Academy graduate Brandon Austin, who was just brilliant, and who has got better and better by each passing season. Also, then there is the fantastic Oliver Skipp, and players who are technically unbelievable, like the Shashoua brothers – Samuel and Armando.
Skilful and fast winger Anthony Georgiou was a player who I always really thought very highly of, and who I wrote a lot on. I thought that he was very unlucky with injuries during his time at Spurs. Without doubt my favourite season covering the Spurs Academy sides was in 2018/19. That season and under the tutelage of Under 18’s head-coach Matt Wells, Spurs’ Under 18 side played consistently outstanding football. The team consisted of players like Dilan Markanday, who is another outstanding footballer with such great potential, Harvey White, the captain Armando Shashoua, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Dennis Cirkin, Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Maxwell Statham, Josh Oluwayemi, Luis Binks, J’Neil Bennett, Troy Parrott and Jubril Okedina. I could literally write piece after piece on that side, who during the leadership of Matt Wells and his time at the club during that season as head-coach of the side, were in my opinions the best Under 18 side in England. They seemed fitter than pretty much all of the sides that they faced, but the quality of the football that they played, was quite simply breathtaking. I reckon that Matt Wells will make a great manager one day.
I’ve been so lucky to build up so many wonderful memories of watching Spurs’ various academy sides, all over the country, and also in Europe at the pre-season and end of season Academy tournaments. I loved attending those tournaments, and so many of the players were so very friendly and thankful that I’d made the trip over to support them. Because at the end of the day I am a Spurs supporter first of all. Not all fellow Spurs supporters might have liked the fact that I was always positive in my reporting on the Spurs Academy matches. However, I very much appreciate the fact that these young Spurs Academy players are still at the very beginning of their footballing journey. Certainly I’ve always felt that I was never in a position to criticise players for their performances, after all I’m just a Spurs fan, not a coach or an analyst, or whatever. I would like to say a very big thank you to all of the fellow Spurs supporters who have so kindly followed my reports, updates, player articles, tweets and other writing on the Spurs Academy over the years. I would also like to say a special thank you to those Spurs Academy parents who have introduced themselves to me in the past, and who have been so kind to me. And also to the Spurs Academy players (past and present), many of whom were very kind to me and so willing to chat and introduce themselves to me. I only wish every Spurs player all the very best.
And so we come to the end of my rather long piece, in which I have reminisced rather a lot! I will greatly miss going to all of the Spurs Academy matches in person, although I will still be following every result, and also watching every game on SpursPlay. I think that I’m very lucky to have so many memories of watching so many great games of Spurs at Academy level, all over the country. Some of my favourites include 9-0 wins over Arsenal and West Ham United respectively, at Under 18 level, some big wins against top academy sides at Under 21 level, seeing some wonderful football being played, and overall just having a great time. I feel like I’ve really got to learn so much about the game in this time. I truly think that Spurs fans should be feeling optimistic about the future of the Academy players who are on their own footballing journey. I still think that Troy Parrott will and can be a big player for Spurs’ first team in the future, and Oliver Skipp and Brandon Austin will only get better. Also, some of the younger players such as Dane Scarlett, Harvey White, Maxwell McKnight, Josh Keeley, Alfie Devine, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Tyrese Hall, Will Lankshear and Rio Kyerematen, are just some of the Spurs Academy players who I personally believe can have great careers at the club.
I’ve loved every minute of going to all of the Spurs Academy games during recent years (barring of course the 2020/21 season, when no one could attend matches). I would like to wish the Spurs Academy players and Academy graduates of the club all the very best of luck for the future. I look forward to continuing to follow the progress of all of the players.