Despite finishing as runners-up in the finals of both u17 and u18 County cups, both sides played exceptionally well against worthy winners. Both Mowden Park and Ryton completed the double of Cup and league winners in their respective age-groups, losing only a single game between them.
Competing at u19 level in the National Cup, the young side, bolstered with a few senior players produced some stunning displays, progressing to the final stage of the Northern Divisions, one step from the overall quarter-finals. The side travelled to high fliers Wharfedale who towered above the Westoe youngsters and played the conditions well, keeping the ball tight and using their size and strength to wear Westoe down.
Finishing joint champions in the league was itself a major achievement as the Colts have continued in their policy of ensuring that every player that turned up was given game time, sometimes incurring up to twelve replacements in a single match.
Ably led by Joe McKenzie and Jordan Carey this season’s colts side has been predominantly made up of u17 players and regularly featured around five u16s. Despite this, they have consistently performed well against older and much bigger sides, shocking them with uncompromising defence and some inventive back play.
Much of the success is due to the excellent coaching provided by some of our Senior players throughout the season, special thanks to Matty Muchall, James Fitzpatrick, David Haswell, James Walker and Jamie Smith.
Most improved player – Nathan Peel
Coaches’ player – Ben Roberts
Captain’s player – Greg Graham
Players’ player – Jamie Hughes
Jamie Hughes goes on to be next season’s captain in what promises to be a magnificent season, as the majority of his side will be playing their second (third in some cases) year at this level.
On a personal note, I am standing down as Colts’ Coach this season and would like to thank all the sponsors, coaches and players for the last four years. It has been an honour and privilege to be involved and I look forward to seeing many of the Colts progressing on to the senior ranks and hopefully being given their deserved chance at first team level.
It has been encouraging to finally see recent Colts players being given their first team debuts, albeit through necessity rather than design, and has shown that although the step-up to national league levels is a huge leap that if we focus on developing from within, we can produce players more than capable at this level.
Special thanks to Ian Etchels and Stu Farrow who coerced me into helping in the first place, Jan Duncan who has been a rock of support despite my rants, Paul Byrne for the work at Harton and finally to our big and tough leader Ray Bayes who deserves a medal for all the work he’s carried out at the club.
Good luck to whoever picks up the baton, I’m certain that with the quality of the Colts side, next season will be as rewarding as my last four and the club can go on from strength to strength in coming years.