Mentors matching success of pupils

9 months ago By David Watters

Proud staff at the Northern Premier League Football Academy are celebrating the growing list of coaches from their ranks who are graduating to the professional game.

Best known since Yohan Rutty-Smith earned a move to Notts County from EVO-STIK League South Romulus for producing star students, the NPLFA can now boast about a host of success stories on the coaching front since the ground-breaking and league-wide programme's foundation in 2014.

EVO-STIK League Premier Division Warrington Town were singled out for leading the way ahead of this weekend's action after the last two head coaches of their academy were snapped up by professional clubs - Nick Chadwick by Championship Wigan Athletic and his successor Keith Southern by Premier League Everton before Christmas.

Many more NPLFA coaches contributing to the success of the senior sides at their EVO-STIK League clubs were also hailed by a spokesman for the NPLFA this weekend.

The spokesman said: “We are delighted that we have been a stepping stone for Nick and Keith. Both are excellent coaches and have been great for the programme, with Nick helping us organise the inter-league game with Wigan Athletic. It shows we have talented coaches all delivering the quality you would expect in a programme like ours.

“No similar type of programme has achieved such a pathway and if you add Belper Town's Tom Donlon and Kidsgrove Athletic's Kyle Adams, who both moved on to Football Development positions at Port Vale and Sheffield Wednesday respectfully, and Witton Albion’s Avron Franklin and Leek Town’s John Mayer as Port Vale academy coaches, it has been a real boost for the coaches involved in the programme in terms of progression into professional clubs.

"Our current coaches also continue to make a name for themselves in the EVO-STIK League with Andy Dales at Mickleover Sports and Carlton Town's Evan Garnett amongst the goals for Mickleover recently whilst Matlock Town's Jamie Yates represents Sheffield FC. It's great the students can see first hand the route and current pathway the coaches have taken, playing and getting further qualified. They can relate to that and both Andy and Evan also have an excellent mentor in Mickleover manager John McGrath.”

The spokesman added: "Former FC United manager of 12 years Karl Marginson who recently joined the coaching set up at Radcliffe FC is a new addition to the calibre of quality experienced coaches, joining Belper's Anthony Hemmings, Simon Bell at Kidsgrove Athletic, Carl Vickers at Matlock Town, Mossley's Paul Bennett, Ossett Albion's Paul Lines, Pete Lofthouse at Radcliffe, Steve Hinks at Sutton Coldfield Town and Mark Baker and Martyn Irvine at Warrington Town."

The NPLFA was founded with the backing of the Football Association at five pilot clubs in September 2014 to provide career pathways into the football industry with youngsters studying on two year BTEC courses.

Still the only league-wide academy in English football combining sport with education and now expanded to 12 members clubs, the NPLFA welcomed its fourth intake of students this season while launching a new higher education partnership with Loughborough University so students could continue their studies to degree level within the Northern Premier League.

For further details and information on the football education programme and the benefits it can bring to your club visit the website at or contact them at

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Where next?

Saturday's South Division action review Just four games went ahead in the EVO-STIK League South on Saturday due to the overnight and early morning rain, writes Pitchero's Steve Whitney.
Saturday's Premier Division action review With leaders Altrincham's game being off on Saturday, Warrington Town took advantage to reduce the gap at the top of the EVO-STIK League Premier to seven points, writes Pitchero's Steve Whitney.

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