Rochdale’s under 18 side were 5-0 winners over Wigan Athletic in the final of the Lancashire Youth Cup on Wednesday afternoon, and Chris Beech is delighted that they’ve secured silverware this season.
“Since January I’ve been helping Keith [first team Manager Keith Hill], but I’ve got a great warm glow in my belly for that performance.
“When we went to Wigan near the end of the season last year, there were a lot of questions about the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) and whether or not clubs would back the changes to youth set-ups. A lot of clubs didn’t and we’ve benefited from that with the likes of Andy Cannon who came to Rochdale after Stockport closed theirs. At that time it was questionable what would happen at Rochdale and I thank the Chairman and the Board of Directors who backed what was happening then because this has obviously lead to the success we’ve had this season, including with the four lads who played in the first team on Saturday.
“It is great to win something because they are the best group of players that I’ve been able to put together in the eight and half years that I have been Youth Team Manager and they are by far the best footballing team that I have been involved with in terms of what we do and how we do it; it warrants victories like today.
“This year we’ve beaten Bury 7-0, beat Everton in pre-season with five goals and obviously we had a great run in the FA Youth Cup. I know Forest got to the semi-final, but we were so unfortunate not to beat them and I really felt this year was going to be one of those lower league specials where we could have gone on and got into the final, but we didn’t. Keith then came back and there were a lot of changes for the young lads who are aged between 16 and 17 years old to deal with during that transitional period.
“I’m feeling so good inside for the lads that they've been able to get something for their CVs, and more importantly for the ones leaving the building who didn’t get a professional contract. There were a lot of close decisions the other day when we spoke to all the players. They’ve put some long hours and time into these corridors of Rochdale Football Club.”