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Support Academy Showcase Even If You're At Leicester
Support Academy Showcase Even If You're At Leicester
Thursday, 5th May 2011 14:13

Academy sponsorship manager Simon Milton is asking fans unable to attend Saturday’s showcase U15 game against Manchester United to buy a ticket anyway to help the next generation of Town stars.

The annual Portman Road fixture, arranged by academy manager Sammy Morgan (pictured), is likely to see a smaller than usual attendance due to the late switch of the first team’s final game at Leicester.

Former midfielder Milton says the game is his final fundraising push of the campaign: “It’s our last academy event of the season from which we can make money. It’s our showcase game which we’ve done for the last five or six years.

“It gives both teams the opportunity to play on the main pitch in front of a crowd and we normally get a few thousand in. It’s a very easy way for people to support the academy.”

Unfortunately, this year’s attendance is likely to be hit by the surprise late switch of the final first team fixture, but Milton is calling on fans who are off to the Walkers Stadium – to watch academy products such as Connor Wickham, Josh Carson and Ronan Murray - to put their hands in their pockets to show their support for the club’s youngsters.

“When we originally put the game on the first team were playing on the Sunday. Now that the game has moved to the Saturday as well, we’re obviously concerned that we’re not going to get the support that we would normally get because the two games clash,” he said.

“But we couldn’t move it, Man United had committed to that day, their hotel was booked for them to come down on the Friday.

“So, we’re going ahead with it and the ideal ways to support the academy are to a) come to the game, but b) buy a ticket and donate your money. Even if you’re going to Leicester, donate a fiver by buying a ticket.”

The funds raised will be used to help send an U15 team to the prestigious Milk Cup youth tournament in Northern Ireland in July, one of two competitions in which the club regularly take part.

Milton says these tournaments play a significant role in the development of young players: “We first saw Josh Carson at the Galway Cup in 2008 [when he won Player of the Tournament] and I’ve taken Connor Wickham out to the Galway Cup and the Milk Cup. The more money we make from Saturday’s game the more it will help us to fund this trip.”

Academy manager Morgan says the competitions provide a chance for the parents of prospective new recruits, particularly those like Carson from Northern Ireland or those from the Republic of Ireland, to get to know the staff: “You’ve got the players all week and the parents come down and watch them and see us at work. They see what kind of environment we create for the kids and they can discuss it with us.

“They get a feel of what we’re about, we don’t put on any airs and graces for them, they see us at work and then they make the decision on whether this is the type of club and these are the type of people they want their boy to be with for the next few years, so it’s very important.”

Morgan started the annual showcase friendlies with Manchester United back in his days at Norwich City: “We started here in 2006 and, for my sins, at Norwich I started up there in 2001, so it’s 10 years now. I feel privileged that Manchester United have done that for me over the last 10 years.

“When I came down here as education officer, Bryan Klug said to bring down the good parts from Norwich and I thought this was something that I’d done well and I’m very proud of it."

The 64-year-old one-time Port Vale, Aston Villa, Brighton and Cambridge striker says some of those involved on Saturday have already broken into the U18s: “The players who will be involved are all 1996 birthdays or after and we’ve probably got a squad of about 20.

"One of those who has played and scored at U18 level already is Byron Lawrence and I’ll be looking for him to put on a little bit of a performance.

“It’s an opportunity for the kids to play on the main pitch. Luke Hyam and all the boys taken on last year like Ronan Murray and David Cawley have played in the games. It gives them a feel of what it’s all about and for the public to see what’s going on.”

A match against Manchester United in a proper stadium can also be a lure for potential signings – including those from Ireland or elsewhere abroad who can join the club full-time at 16 – who might be wavering over committing to Town.

“We’ve used it as a bit of a recruitment tool whereby we’d get boys in and use it as a little bit of a carrot and it’s also a chance to look at them against a good unit,” the former Northern Ireland international says.

“The game always has a sting in the tale, there’s always an interesting finish. Some of them have been very good.”

Along with Hyam and Murray, Connor Wickham and Jordan Rhodes have both starred in previous games for Town, while for United Danny Welbeck played in one of the previous matches at Portman Road and Kieran Richardson and Alex Bruce were involved in games during Morgan’s time at Norwich.

In addition to the main match kicking off at 3pm (with a penalty shoot-out if it ends in a draw), there’s a tournament on the practice pitch for younger age groups from 11am, culminating in finals on the main pitch from 2.15pm with the ITFC Development Cup the prize: “We’re putting a little tournament on the practice pitch involving U10s and U12s and they’re playing their finals on the pitch before the game, which is an added bonus for the day.”

Ticket prices are £5 for adults and £1 for children and are available from the Ticket Office - 0844 8011 555 - with no additional credit card charges.

Photo: Action Images

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TJS added 14:50 - May 5
I would guess 80% of those going to Leicester have just paid 30 quid plus travel costs on top of just renewing their season ticket at increased prices.
Am I the only one who thinks asking fans to pay out another fiver for a game they're not even going to is a little insensitive.

sonian_blue added 15:02 - May 5
TJS thats a polite way of putting what I was just thinking.

TheBoyBlue added 15:29 - May 5
You don't have to. But if you can it will help.

Ipswich24 added 16:18 - May 5
Tell Clegg to put his hand in his own sizeable pocket to pay for it then

brazil1982 added 16:32 - May 5
I wonder if first team players have bought tickets?

Town22 added 17:01 - May 5
I think I'd rather be going to PR to watch the next generrations than Leicester.

RegencyBlue added 19:08 - May 5
I'll be there!

BrandonsBlues added 19:48 - May 5
I'll be at Otley College, its free and on all day.

VanIsleBlue added 06:10 - May 6
My nephew is mascot and my Uncle is sponsoring the game

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