From Blue Square North to Football League
On the back of three previous entries identifying some of the most promising individuals plying in the Conference, Isthmian and Northern leagues, we turn our attention here to the Conference’s two regional divisions. In the first of two posts focusing on this tier of the pyramid, Wesley Durbin takes a look at the northern section which has, albeit under the guise of the Northern Premier League which it superseded in 2004, been a staging post for the likes of Burton and Accrington in recent years.
As peculiar as it seems, the first individual to come under the spotlight in this article plays for David Livermore’s Histon FC who, along with Bishop’s Stortford, Gloucester City and Worcester City, have been forced to endure a multitude of lengthy journeys this season (due largely to the fact that two of the three leagues which feed into the Conference system are located in the south). Dan Holman is a 21 year old hardworking striker with good strength and movement, who has proven capable of scoring goals from inside or outside of the box.
Having joined following a short trial spell after impressing in the United Counties League Premier Division for Long Buckby (where he had a prolific record of 60 goals in 78 games), the young striker has continued to attract praise with his all-action style, scoring 19 goals in 34 starts. A promising striker with a bright future.
Moving further north, the second player who might well step further up the pyramid is Wesley York, an 18 year old winger cum striker with Nuneaton Town. A former Nottingham Forest, Derby and Leicester academy player signed from East Midlands Counties League side Anstey Nomads in November, York started his career in sensational fashion at Conference North level with 5 goals in 6 starts. Recently Paul Peschisolido expressed an interest in the player: “The boy is on our radar because he’s got a lot of potential.” It isn’t just Burton Albion interested in the youngster with other scouts from the Football League, and also Premier League, reportedly monitoring his progress.
Elsewhere, Ryan Kendall is a 22 year old striker with Gainsborough Trinity. A six footer who was highly rated as he came through the Hull City youth setup, Kendall was a regular for the Tigers’ reserves, gaining valuable experience playing alongside the likes of Dean Windass, and scoring 2 goals in as many starts while on loan at Bradford City during 2009-10. Since joining Trinity in the summer, Kendall has impressed at Conference North level, scoring 11 goals so far this season, despite missing around a month with a thigh strain.
Another striker, Scott Spencer is a 23 year old former England under 19 international, currently playing for Hyde FC. Spencer started on fire this season, scoring in each of his first 9 appearances for the club, and netted 13 times by the time Staveley Miners Welfare’s defence was the first to prevent him from scoring. Spencer’s eye-catching displays, including a four goal haul against Corby Town, earned him a call up to the England C squad. Spencer has continued to impress in all competitions, scoring 22 goals in 25 starts so far.
Finishing with a defender, Gareth Dean is a 22 year old centre back with Nuneaton Town. During the 2009-10 season, Dean won Manager’s Player, Players’ Player, Young Player and Supporters’ Home and Away Player of the Year. He is strong in the air and in the tackle, brave, good with the ball and is a threat in the opposition box with his aerial prowess. Dean has played a crucial role in Nuneaton’s rise to a play-off position and has attracted interest from Football League scouts for his impressive performances. This season, Dean has made 36 appearances, scoring 7 goals and has been named man of the match on 5 occasions, with 12 clean sheets kept during that time. Dean balances his football career with studying for a degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Loughborough University, and it’s thought that it will only be a matter of time before he moves on to a Football League club once he graduates.