The new season is barely a week old, and Stuart McCall’s Bradford City are setting club records.
Our history with youth development has been, it’s fair to say, mixed. While some of the club’s all-time greats have come through our own Academy and left their mark on the club, recent years have been somewhat leaner.
However, there are signs that this season will be markedly different for City, with six Academy products already featuring in a first-team match this season, just two games into the campaign. That, certainly in the club’s modern-day history, is a record by some distance.
Three of them made their debut for the club in the EFL Trophy match against Doncaster Rovers: Kian Scales, Connor Shanks and Finn Cousin-Dawson.
Jorge Sikora, another product of the same Academy class, debuted in last season’s EFL Trophy, but has already added to his one appearance in that competition last year.
The other two Academy products to have featured are defender Reece Staunton, who has now made a number of appearances for the first-team since he debuted, and Dylan Mottley-Henry, who is in his second spell at City but also classes as a homegrown talent.
In the last decade, from 2010 to 2020, City blooded the following Academy graduates in at least one first-team game: Louis Horne, Luke Dean, Dominic Rowe, Alex Flett, Adam Baker, Scott Brown, Kwame Boateng, Daniel Devine Ellis Hudson, Tom Windle, James King, Sam Wright, Alex Laird, Cameron Hawkes, Elliot Goldthorp, Raeece Ellington, Connor Morris and George Sykes-Kenworthy.
However, the expectation is that this current class will feature much more prominently, with a large portion of those playing only once for the club, and an even smaller fraction making any sort of appearance in league football.
It seems that the future is bright at City.