NPLFA duo become latest graduates

By David Watters

The Northern Premier League Football Academy's coaches and tutors are congratulating their latest graduates to first team football this weekend.

Ossett Albion striker Ben Harley and Jack Walsh at Mickleover Sports became the 29th and 30th NPLFA students respectively to make it into the senior sides at their EVO-STIK League clubs.

Harley, 16, led the way in midweek, making his semi-professional debut on Tuesday night as a late substitute in Albion's 2-0 win over Hyde United after making it into the first team squad for the first time that night.

Midfielder Walsh made his first team debut for Sports on Saturday against Sutton Coldfield Town in the EVO-STIK League's top flight. A second year student, the 18-year-old came on as a late substitute for John McGrath’s men in the 2-1 win for the relegation threatened Royals.

The game also featured several other NPLFA connections with second year student Morgan Williams again partnering experienced former Derby County defender Pablo Mills in central defence along with Sports and Carlton Town academy coaches Evan Garnett and Andy Dales, the latter getting on the scoresheet again. Current and former students Tyreece Robinson and Lewis Belgrave respectively were unused subs.

The NPLFA congratulated their latest student stars in a statement on the ground-breaking academy's website. "Well done Ben to Jack and keep up the great work!" said a spokesman.

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, visit or contact them at

Images courtesy of & @Matlock_TownFC/Twitter

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Where next?

Saturday's North Division action review The weather was relatively kind to the EVO-STIK League North on Saturday with only the game at Brighouse Town falling to a postponement.
Saturday's Premier Division action review This weekend's mini 'Beast from the East' fortunately had little effect on the EVO-STIK League Premier on Saturday which only lost games at Barwell and Whitby Town, writes Pitchero's Steve Whitney.

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