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The Future : Mini-Mariners
By: Dan Humphrey
IN THE WAKE of the Mariners being forced to abolish their reserve team, plans have been revealed to create a new under 19's team to take its place.
In an interview with the ThisIsGrimsby web site, Grimsby chairman Peter Furneaux has expressed concern at the lack of quality youngsters coming through the Mariners ranks in recent times.
The Chairman said that "by the time our players get to 18 or 19 they need to be knocking on the door of the first team." Instead some youth products of the Laws/Buckley-era, such as Daryl Clare, Matty Bloomer and Adam Buckley have found themselves at lower division clubs, demonstrating their apparent unsuitability for Division One football.
The idea of an under 19 side might change the situation - with the young players building more of an understanding and getting regular football, rather than being cast aside to make way for trialists and first-teamers on their way back from injury.
Last season, Iain Ward was the only new face to emerge from the youth set-up, as the defender, who recently turned 19, made his debut in the final game of the season at Millwall.
Arguably the combination of injuries and the prolonged relegation battle kept Ward and fellow teenagers Chris Bolder and Graham Hockless from making the substitutes bench on a regular basis, but Furneaux's comments give a clear hint that the Mariners are hoping to bring more young players along, without having to rely on the 'cast-offs' of other sides.
Young striker Darren Mansaram travelled with the first team squad a few times towards the end of the season, but with the Mariners being forced to cut their wage bill, the 2002-2003 season could see far more involvement for the young Mariners.
Recent GTFC youth products still at the club
(Strictly speaking these are not all Grimsby youth products. For example, Butterfield was once on the books of Leicester, and Bolder and Hockless came to Blundell Park via Hull)
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