From Blue Square South to Football League
A week on from his Blue Square North scouting report, Wesley Durbin turns his focus to its southerly counterpart. Here, Wesley considers five Blue Square South players who could arguably make the step up to professional football.
First up is Frannie Collin, a 24 year-old striker with Kent side Tonbridge Angels. Collin is a former England Schoolboy under 18 international who had various trials at clubs during his youth, including Crystal Palace and Aston Villa, before he eventually signed professionally with Gillingham. Having made a couple of starts in amongst 10 sub appearances, scoring two goals in the process, Collin left the club to join Dover Athletic. His first season at Dover in 07-08 resulted in 21 goals from 46 starts which was followed up with 24 goals in 39 starts in 08-09.
The following season was slightly less productive for Collin with just 12 in 32 before he left at the end of the year to join Tonbridge. Last season, his first with Tonbridge, was a successful one individually with 21 goals in all competitions. That good form has continued so far this season with 25 strikes. A number of Football League clubs have watched Collin this season, which is no surprise considering his form and the number of spectacular goals he has scored. A player with good movement, awareness and finishing, Collin also has a good freekick in his armoury, and may yet follow another son of Kent, Danny Kedwell, back into League football.
Moving on, Daniel Bennett is a 23 year-old winger-cum-striker with Farnborough. A quick, skilful player with good technical ability and an eye for goal, Bennett scored 18 goals in all competitions last season for Southern League side Chertsey Town, before linking up with his former manager Spencer Day (née Trethewy) at Farnborough in November. Bennett appeared in the first season of Sky’s ‘Football Icon’ in 2005 where he made it down to the last six players in search of a pro contract at Chelsea. An exciting player with plenty of potential and someone rumoured to be attracting interest from clubs higher in the pyramid.
Dayle Grubb is a 20 year-old central midfielder with Weston-super-Mare. An attack minded, creative midfielder with a good passing range and a nice touch, Grubb is unafraid to take players on and run with the ball. So far this season Grubb has scored 8 goals in 31 appearances and has also been named Man of the Match on 7 occasions for Weston. There are a number of football league clubs said to be monitoring his progress with the likes of Plymouth Argyle, Bristol Rovers, Yeovil Town and Exeter amongst the interested observers. If he does move into a higher level of football he would be the latest Weston player to do so after Ryan Harley’s move to Exeter and Jack Compton’s transfer to SPL side Falkirk in recent years.
Moving back to the South East, Dean Inman is a promising 20 year-old centre back with Hampton & Richmond. Last season, Inman was a mainstay in Borough’s defence, making 39 appearances and scoring 2 goals. During the summer, the youngster was offered the chance to go on trial at QPR after impressing against them in a pre-season friendly, but sadly injury meant this was postponed. However, Inman finally joined up with the Premier League side in October, playing at centre-back for the first half of a game against Tottenham before switching to right-back at half-time.
Despite his tender years Inman has now played over 90 first team games and continues to impress with his assured displays. If Inman makes the step up he will be following in the footsteps of his former team mate, promising striker Dan Thompson, who moved to Portsmouth earlier this season.
Next up, Harry Beautyman is a 19 year old midfielder who joined Blue Square Bet South new boys Sutton United after being released by Leyton Orient, where he was reserve team captain. The accomplished midfielder came through the youth ranks at Brisbane Road but failed to make a first team appearance, although he did enjoy an impressive six-month loan spell with Hastings United during the second half of the 10-11 season. Since joining Sutton back in June, Beautyman has made a number of eye catching displays and has scored 11 goals in 40 first team games so far during 11-12 and continues to impress.
Finally, Aaron Rhule is a 17 year-old Bromley player who predominantly plays as a left winger. A product of the Kent club’s Academy system, Rhule broke into the first team earlier this term after impressive performances in pre-season. His form has attracted a number of Football League clubs, including Nottingham Forest where Rhule spent a week training with the first team and was involved for an hour in a reserve fixture against Walsall. After the game, this is what Nottingham Forest manager Steve Cotterill had to say to the press regarding Rhule: “We have had a good look at him and will now keep an eye on him down there and watch him like we did before we had him in.” If Rhule eventually earns himself a move to the City Ground then he could follow fellow former Bromley youngster Garath McCleary.