Wednesday, June 27, 2001

Knight Coaching Appointment

Knight Coaching Appointment/Woods New Role
By Rob Sedgwick
Date: 27/6/2001

IAN KNIGHT is expected to take up his new role as the director of youth coaching at Blundell Park on Friday, handing over his former responsibility of youth team coach to ex-Mariner Neil Woods. Knight's new job will be to oversea the whole youth operation, which now employs 50 people worldwide.

The Mariners have scouting networks in Dublin and Northern Ireland, in addition to formal links with two clubs in Canada: the Abbotsford Mariners near Vancouver and the London Soccer Academy near Toronto.
Ian Knight explained the appointment to the Evening Telegraph: "My time has been stretched between overseeing the system as a whole, and day-to-day coaching duties. It has become too much for one person to run. Lennie Lawrence and I have agreed to leave the day-to-day coaching to someone else, and have me take charge of the system as a whole."

Neil Woods meanwhile is relishing the prospect of working on a day-to-day basis with the club's unpolished diamonds of the future. The 35-year-old York-born striker who enjoyed seven years at Blundell Park from 1990, before finishing his playing career two years ago with non-league Southport, revealed:

"I have always wanted to work with the youth team, and work with the same squad of boys day after day. Normally with my coaching I have had the boys on one or two occasions a week; now I'll have them for six or seven days. They are a very promising set of boys and I am looking forward to it.

"I am comfortable with the place and surroundings, and I've got good friends here and around Grimsby which will help. You grow an affection for a club after a while. I am very settled here and I am looking forward to what I regard as a super job."

Knight and Woods will work closely together, with the former Grimsby and Sheffield Wednesday defender still attending all youth team matches, and taking part in some training sessions.

Town have, of necessity, stepped up their efforts in recent years to recruit youngsters at as early an age as possible, with the increasing decline of the transfer system in domestic and European football resulting in the need to produce local-grown players even more so than in the past.

The number of locally-born players in the team is a far cry from what it was just twenty years ago, when the Moore brothers, Tony Ford, Kevin Drinkell, Paul Wilkinson, Nigel Batch and others all came through the ranks and eventually had long and successful careers which all began in the black and white stripes of Grimsby Town.
Although the game has changed enormously in the last two decades, making having as many local players ever participating simultaneously in a Town team unlikely again, the talent in and around the Grimsby area is an obvious pool of raw ability which the Mariners need to tap into and nurture at an early age if they are to maintain their current status over the next few years.

Friday, June 01, 2001

The Search For Talent - The Canadian Connection

By Bill Osborne
Date: 1/6/2001

GRIMSBY's Youth coach Ian Knight is taking a four-week tour of North America hoping to find a possible star for the future. Ian will be visiting the London Soccer Academy near Ontario and the Abbotsford Mariners near Vancouver who have established mutually beneficial links with the Mariners

He will fly to London, Ontario, for a week before crossing the Rockies to Vancouver for a further week and adding a trip to the USA to take in an international youth cup tournament, which will include teams from Europe and South America.
In an article in the Grimsby Telegraph today he told Stuart Rowson, "It doesn't cost the club a penny and it certainly doesn't cost us anything to have a look. Canada has produced players who are playing at a good level of professional football."

"If we can be in there at ground level and get people interested in Grimsby Town, hopefully in four or five years we might get a player or two out of it. We're looking to develop it in the long term and there's a lot we can learn from it and a lot they can learn from it. If it's another avenue of trying to find talent, we have to pursue it."

Town will also be sending five of their own Under 13 players to take part in the Californian tournament - the San Diego Surf Cup - to form part of an international squad with several Abbotsford players.

Defenders Ben Jackson and Ben Higgins, midfielders Danny Newman and Kiel Leisk, striker Peter Bore and Matt Franklin, a Football in the Community coach will all leave for America on July 19 to join up with Knight and the Abbotsford squad.

"The players were naturally excited when I mentioned going to America, and we did some fundraising and sold some raffle tickets to pay for it," said Knight. "We told them that the more tickets they sold the more of their names would go in the hat, and then we drew it randomly."