At last ! I have to start the Report with those words because at last we have won the U18 Youth League after coming close in recent Seasons. The league was won by results on the pitch but the many, many problems off it at Youth level didn’t help to make it easy. There was the terrible passing away of 15 year old Kiyan Prince who would have played at this higher level. Ricky Sappleton ‘losing’ his way and leaving the Club, what a waste ! The ‘Tube Station Four’ resulted in one player lucky to be alive and the other three having many sleepless nights ! John O’Brien left a couple of months into the Season and is yet to be replaced. The goalkeeping Coach, Tony Roberts also departed although I’m sure Jonsey and Royce would of helped out.
There were long term injuries to Crowther, Yelland, Maguire, Smart and St.Aimie. I wonder how Joe Gallen managed to pick his teams ? This highlights what a good Manager and Coach he is. Steve, Tom, Terry and Bobby were all a fantastic help to him. Well done to Bobby Ross on winning the award. On the pitch, they won 15 out of 22 games which is great. They were unbeaten at Harlington in the league, winning 10 out of 11 which is fantastic. The U16’s only lost one game at Harlington out of 12.
But just like the previous Season, we did not have a consistent main scorer. If Ricky Sappleton had stayed, he may have been one but Romone Rose was the top scorer in the league with 10 goals. Scoring is only one part of his game. Danny Maguire was the second highest scorer with 7 goals, even though he plays in midfield and missed many games through injury. In the final run-in, Angelo Balanta came to QPR recommended by the great Danny Maddix I believe, who spotted Angelo playing park football. Angelo scored 6 vital goals including the Championship winner at Brighton ! Thanks to Danny Maddix.
In defence, we had solid, dependable players like Coyne, Brown, Goode and Howell in front of usually, Goodchild in goal. 110% Matt O’Brien would die for the R’s in midfield and was ably supported by the fiery Rose and clever winger, Arthur. Central midfield was shared by Maguire and Smart, both clever players along with other versatile players who could alternate easily. Upfront, James Folkes sort of replaced Sappleton and although not as powerful, he did a good job and has good pace. Joe Gallen used over 30 players during the Season, so many played their part in winning the league, especially as I said, with so many off the pitch problems. Well done everyone !
The U16’s also had another very good Season, winning 16 out of 27 games and as I said, they lost only 1 at Harlington. They also had the Club’s top scorer, Antonio German notched up 18 goals and is an excellent prospect. Good prospects, Cyrus Vanterpool and Terry Smith scored 11 and 9 goals respectively. I expect Smith to step into the place sadly vacated by Dean Parrett. ¬£1m or not, that was a very sad loss but I expect Smith to take his chance. Liam O’Brien is our best goalkeeping hope for years, I hope money doesn’t keep talking !!! Davenport is a very good fullback but unfortunately he broke his leg so Cox took his chance well. Wright is a very strong centre half who never seemed to have a regular partner when Tang left early on. The same could be said of Terry Smith. Ehmer played many games, a good footballer who has to get more involved as with Waller. But only Jordan, who is a good, fast and tricky winger, stood out along with Smith. I’ve mentioned German and Vanterpool up front and youngster Olojide, backed them up when needed. As with Joe, Steve Gallen also used over 30 players, so once again, many played their part in a good Season.
The Sunday morning teams (15 and under) also had a good Season at Harlington and thanks must go for the good work done by their Coaches and Physio’s plus of courseTerry !!! When a boy comes through the Youth system and into the 1st Team, it does make the Saturday and Sunday mornings all worth while. Jake Cole started at QPR aged 10. He was brilliant at Wolves near the end of the Season. St.Aimie, who has just signed a contract, was also in the travelling squad at Wolves. 10 players (including Furlong) played for the 1st Team last Season. I think 1 or 2 more are nearly ready now, be patient.
(Thanks to Pat Harrison for the three excellent celebratory pics. These were taken at the final U18’s game at Brighton when the league title was clinched. Well done to Pat and Tom plus James Luck who all managed to get back to Loftus Road in time for the kick-off – Steve Russell)