A NUMBER of local youth footballers that includes current Everton defender, Luke Garbutt have excelled in reaching the professional game.
The District is no stranger to talent with a host of Premiership stars including John Scales and Andy O’Brien, also having both gone on to play for their respective countries.
However the current crop of graduates is sure to be a welcome boost to the footballing community that the talent that has largely risen from the heavens of the Harrogate and District Junior Football League are making their mark.
The big story of course was Luke Garbutt’s controversial move from Leeds United to Everton in 2009.
The 18 year old has had a fantastic two years since his move to Merseyside, gaining several international honours including winning the European Under 17 Championships with England last summer, and winning a number of caps for the Under 19’s. Garbutt who started his career with Pannal Ash Juniors, has also achieved success domestically, winning last season’s Academy Premier League. The left back will be hoping to pursue the door of the first team in the upcoming season.
Although he has not yet made an appearance for Leeds United, 20 year old former King James School pupil, Tom Lees has already amassed a wealth of Football League experience having impressed in his loan spells with Accrington Stanley and then Bury last season. Lees who clinched promotion with Bury from League 2 last season was acknowledged by the club’s manager, Richie Barker as the best young centre half in the division. However, fresh from a new contract at Elland Road, Lees will now be looking to push on in Simon Grayson’s plans.
Another Elland Road prodigy with a bright future is 17 year old, Simon Lenighan, a former Rossett School pupil who was an integral part of his school year groups’ domination of the district and county’s footballing circuit. Lenighan who was only picked up by the Academy in 2009, has gone beyond his age to become a key part of the club’s reserve team. One of the striker’s highlights last season was scoring in a 3-1 victory against Hull City which saw him play with experienced first teamers, Scotland international, Ross McCormack and Sanchez Watt.
Harrogate Grammar School’s, Louis Swain has also been signed up on a scholarship to Bradford City. Year 11 pupil Swain, who played in an age level above him for his successful School side, has already played for the Bantam’s for a number of years.
With a number of junior teams having contributed to the success of several youth footballers amongst many, with commitment on coaching and commitment, it is hoped that Harrogate Town Football Club’s recent involvement with Pannal Ash Juniors that has provided a platform for many of the footballers mentioned, will benefit the town’s Blue Square North team in the future.