PDP Lead Coach Chris Brown said it was a magical feeling to win the North West EFL Youth Alliance League title at the Crown Oil Arena.
Dale needed just a point against Tranmere Rovers to secure the title, and Aaron Morley’s strike seven minutes from time secured a 1-1 draw.
“I’m relieved!” said Brown.
“We did it the hard way. Going 1-0 down to a really good goal, and then came the hard struggle.
“But what the lads have shown all year is some resilience, and we showed our quality. When we went 1-0 down we actually played better! We scored a good goal and we managed the game well.
“The emotion came in, and I’m so happy we did it, because the set of lads that we’ve got, and the quality, the application and how hard they’ve worked all year has shown through, and they’ve deserved it because they’ve been the better team throughout the season.
“To turn up every single week and get those results, going on that fantastic run of consecutive wins, to finish it off at the home stadium was magical. They’re all buzzing – I’m in a different change of clothes because I’m soaked! The feeling is amazing.
“It’s really special. It will stay with them for all of their lives. That feeling in the dressing room, the feeling of winning and scoring, you can’t take that away from anyone, and they’ve got that as a group.
“From the second-years, to the first-years, under-16s and under-15s, there’s a strong group together and we’ve played some really good stuff. Winning it out there epitomises how hard we’ve worked. They’ve all shown strength and character, especially as young players.“
13 consecutive wins from December to April saw the Youth Team break away from the rest of the league along with Wigan Athletic, who they pipped to the title.
“We know we’ve got a good team. We struggled in pre-season – we didn’t get off to a great start.
“We had a meeting and brought all of the group together, and their characters started to come out. They’ve all been together, put good performances in and showed that desire.
“They get things wrong sometimes because they’re young lads and they will get things wrong, but what they produce consistently over 90 minutes and over 26 games, they showed that quality and mentality that they’ll need later on in life, whether in football or something else.
“All of them worked hard for each other – if someone messes up, someone else is there to cover. I’m so happy for them because when they step over the white line it’s upto them – we can only do so much preparation.
“Nothing will ever take away that feeling that they’ve got right now, because they’ve achieved something really special.”
Morley was named as Youth Team Player of the Season on Saturday, and followed that up with the all-important goal against Tranmere, but Brown says the win is down to the team ethic.
“It’s an unbelievable finish. He has that in abundance. Some of the goals he’s scored, some of his passes and assists, are absiolutely superb.
“He’s chipped in, Fabio [Tavares] has scored 22 goals, Neil [Kuemo] has scored 14 goals, Joe Renner and James [Neild] have scored. We talk about that collective ethic, everyone has chipped in.”
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