Slimbridge U18s manager Adam Coyle is looking to continue to produce players for the first team after seeing seven of his side stake a claim for the first team place last season.
In the Young Swans’ first season together they turned heads and entertained throughout their debut season and came close to trophies in both the league and cup alike.
We spoke to Coyle about their debut season ahead of the Slimbridge AFC Presentation Evening at Thornhill Park on Friday night.
“I am sure the season went better than anyone at the club could have ever imagined it to. The lads had some great experiences and games that will last long in their memories.
The sole purpose of the 18s squad was to have a pool of players ready to be called upon if needed in the First Team. To have as many as seven players playing for the First Team in the first season was very good.
But ultimately, we want the young players to go on and make 50/100 + club appearances, so we are still early days but time will tell. But for a first season it is a great start and now we want to go on and produce more players this season.” Coyle said.
Severn Sport were present during one of the trial events for the newly formed Slimbridge U18s squad this time last year and we saw how hungry and determined the side were. Then, during the season the Young Swans would go on to be one of the most exciting sides we saw in the county last season and Coyle is delighted with how his squad performed as well as his coaching staff.
“I knew we had a good squad and I knew they would give the First Team manager a decision to make over the season and when the players went with the First Team they always made a good impression of themselves, whether that was in training or when involved with matches, so that is full credit to the players and their abilities and how they applied themselves for both sides.
It’s a cliché but I am always learning. I have a lot of experience of u18s football but you can never know it all. But the new learning was mainly about the Southern League and the standard of which we have to get the young players to. It isn’t easy, but with the right environment and unconditional support for our players it can be done.” Coyle added.
During Friday’s Presentation Evening the U18s awards were awarded to full-back Jacob Waddington, who won the Manger’s Player of the Year, Captain Fin Byrnes collected the Supporters’ Player of the Year and Adam Bloomfield collected his award for Top Goalscorer in the Midland Floodlit Youth League Southern Division.
Coyle himself collected the Chairman’s Award and Severn Sport Player of the Year Lewis Adams added the Player’s Player of the Year to a wonderful season.
After a great season Slimbridge have said goodbye to a number of players due to their ages as well as losing Assistant Manager Charlie Halliday amongst their backroom staff, but Coyle revealed his plans for next season, including bringing in Longlevens’ Co-Manager Tommy Callinan as part of his set up.
“The U18s squads are always evolving as you only have them for one or two years so I am used to that side of things. We had eight players who are still u18s so that is great, as we get 2 years with them.
Charlie [Halliday] was great for us and the lads loved him, but moving to Malta with his future wife is amazing for them so we wish him all the best. I have got Tommy Callinan in to help me this season and his experience for me to call upon on the bench will be great for me and the players.
Also I have Joe Snell come onboard to help with the goalkeeping, he used to be my goalkeeper when I was FGR U18s manager, he will be great for the goalkeepers we have, and he will also oversee the organisation at defending and attacking set pieces, which was a weakness of ours last season.”
This week also saw Slimbridge U18s confirm their full list of pre-season friendlies, which begin on Tuesday 16th July with a trip to Cheltenham Town Academy. The following Tuesday (23rd July) the Young Swans head to Weston-Super-Mare, before taking on newly formed Taverners U18s on Saturday 3rd August.
They end with three games at Thornhill Park, with Bristol City Academy visiting on Monday 5th August, the annual game against the First Team on Friday 9th August and ending with Swindon Town Academy on Tuesday 13th August.
“We have some really tough friendlies, but getting players into our first team is also tough. So, we have to set the players challenges and see how they react.
There is no point playing friendlies where we will win 10-0 and the players get nothing out of that so we want to challenge them early as possible. The friendlies we have organised are great for that. And of course, we have a few new boys in the squad as well as the boys that are still u18s from last season.
Getting the new players who we have signed this season onboard with our philosophy and getting used to the other players is also important in pre-season.” Coyle said.
Slimbridge AFC’s pre-season training begins on Thursday 20th June at 18:30, with Thornhill Park the meeting place. Contact the club on their social media platforms for more information.