Fleetwood chairman Pilley pleased with academy progress

Billy Crellin with chairman Andy Pilley after signing a professional contract at Fleetwood
Billy Crellin with chairman Andy Pilley after signing a professional contract at Fleetwood

Fleetwood Town chairman Andy Pilley is a proud man – not only with the first team’s progress but the way in which the club’s younger players are developing.

October was a historic month for Town’s youth set-up with Billy Crellin crowned a World Cup winner, the Under-12s defeating Manchester United and cup success for the Under-18 side.

Crellin (pictured) toasted a whirlwind year by becoming the first academy player to sign professional terms and winning the U17 World Cup with England after their win against Spain in last weekend’s final.

The Under-12s win against Manchester United was then topped off by FA Youth Cup success for the Under-18s thanks to their victory against Guiseley.

While Pilley said that Crellin’s international success is a bonus for Town, he also outlined the club is following the blueprint of Premier League and European giants Manchester City and Barcelona as he hailed Town’s category 3 academy.

He said: “I think it is a bonus that we did not really expect to have players coming to this kind of recognition at such an early stage.

“What we expect from the academy is we do things very professionally; from the facilities to the coaches, all the aspects are done as well as we can possibly do.

“We want to prepare like Manchester City, Chelsea and Barcelona; we really do.

“We want to make these players as good as we can possibly be.

“The Under-12s beat Manchester United last week and that is amazing.

“I’m sure they were not best pleased!

“But that is a measure of how well the academy is doing and a huge well done to all of the coaches and the boys involved.”

Under-18 head coach Nathan Rooney was pleased with the heart his side showed to beat Guiseley on penalties and go one better than last year by progressing to the second round of the Youth Cup.

He said: “The boys showed resilience and heart.

“Some of the crowd got on to the lads but we kept playing our way and we got our rewards at the end.

“It was a different type of occasion for us at a different level because they don’t come up against that non-league endeavour and heart week in, week out so it can only benefit us.

“We must say a very well done to Guiseley.

“I felt at any moment they could have nicked it.”

Fleetwood will face Tamworth in the second round of the competition.