Friday 25th January 2019 saw Town’s Player Development Centre reach another milestone as the U12/13 Academy side travelled to Manchester United’s Carrington Training Ground.
Having welcomed the Premier League giants to The CNG Stadium last year, staff at United were that impressed by the set-up and attitude at Town they decided to invite Ben Parker’s team for a friendly match.
Pulling into the complex we were quickly asked for our passes, a reminder of some of the stars that ply their trade at the impressive facility.
“Do you think Pogba and Rashford will be here?” Asked one of the excited travelling Town party.
Pogba and co were of course in London preparing for their FA Cup clash at The Emirates Stadium, but the absence of first team players certainly didn’t dampen any of the spirits.
Upon arrival, players, parents and staff were directed into the lobby, where a host of United’s potential future stars battled with each other on FIFA 19, surrounded by shirts of famous players who had walked the same path.
The players and coaches were then shown into dressing room ten, where a picture of Lionel Messi getting ready in the same room greeted the squad.
Now almost ready for action, Dave Bailey, Assistant Lead Phase Scout for Manchester United, had a final message for the boys – enjoy it.
Our friendly host also explained that the likes of Rashford and Lingard had not too long ago been sitting in this exact space and that scouts were even in attendance this evening looking for the next emerging talent.
The first of four 15-minute quarters was soon underway with United’s Emerging Talent Development Group, to give them their official title, demonstrating just why they were considered as some of the countries’ most promising youngsters.
They were matched by Town though, with Dylan Elliott finding the net early on to shock the hosts, bringing a high quality first 15 to an end at 3-1 to United.
The following two quarters saw United, a tall and athletic outfit, step it up a gear and race into a commanding lead, though Liam Pinchen was in fine form between the sticks to limit the damage.
The deficit didn’t affect the Town boys though, who came out flying for the final 15 minutes, claiming two quick goals through Alfie Lee and Dylan Elliott.
United pulled two back, but the final quarter highlighted how Town went toe to toe with their high-profile opposition and was testament to the hard work happening weekly on the training pitch.
Speaking after the game, Head of PDC and U12/13 Academy Manager Ben Parker said: “For the players coming down here the overall experience was different class, I can’t be prouder than I am of them.
“It’s all about learning and development and for two of the 15-minute periods we more than matched them and that shows we are going in the right direction.
“The players have got the ability, the amount of effort, determination, heart and honesty put into it was shown in abundance.”
We would like to thank Manchester United for their hospitality and the brilliant welcome received by the club.
Harrogate Town U12/13 Academy: Liam Pinchen, Harry Washbrook, James Wield, Harry Burland, Jacob Abbott, Alfie Lee, Andrew Todd, Williams Todd, Johannes Shaw, Murray Brierley, Dylan Elliott, Zach Houseman
To find out how you can get involved in our Player Development Centre and benefit from trips such as this one, click here