Eric Kinder on the players released today
Head of youth Eric Kinder gave us some of the reasoning behind the decisions made to release six of the current group of second year players as their YTS contracts come to a close.
“There were four of my players who had to be told they were being released today and I don’t think it’s something I will ever enjoy,” he admitted.
“We had two others who had been spoken to in advance and they are young men who need to take a lot of credit for the way they have handled themselves.
“Jamie Clarey sat down with me before Christmas and I told him that he wouldn’t be getting a contract offer. We were willing to send him on a work experience deal but he wanted to stay here and see his two years through.
“He hasn’t caused us a single problem and it was just a case of him not quite getting to the level we needed with the technical aspects of the game.
“As a person he is a really likeable lad. He has a fantastic sense of humour and he’s one of those who just gets on with things. He wants to carry on playing and I hope he does go on to find something else.
“He’s had a good go at it and all we can do now is wish him well.”
“Jordan Parker was another who was spoken to a few weeks ago,” he continued. “This was a massively difficult one to deal with.
“He is one of the best people you could ever hope to meet. We’re looking at a number of options for him, one of which is to keep him here as part of our staff - either part-time or full-time - if that’s possible. We’re looking at the Academy and the Community side of things, and Tony Caig runs keeper sessions which might also be an option.
“Jordan has been an absolute dream to work with and he is a fantastic goalkeeper. He has not failed in any way, shape or form.
“It isn't nice to have to mention his height, but that’s the reality of his situation. If he had been six foot tall then we would never have seen him at this club in the first place. He’d be at a much higher level. Nature has let him down in that he didn’t get the growth spurt we needed him to have.
“My hope is that we can sort something out for him because he will become a very important member of my Academy staff if we can.”
“As I say, the decision on the other four was held over until today,” he said. “Tom [Berwick], Dale [Minor], Dillon [Morse] and Brad [Staunch] can walk away with their heads held high.
“I got them all together after they’d spoken to the manager and they know I think very highly of them. I want them to play in the Alliance Cup final because they have done the work to get there, and it belongs to them.
“I was delighted to hear they are all desperate to play and the best thing that could happen for me now is to watch Tom Berwick lift that trophy.
“He came really close to getting an offer but that is no consolation to him as we speak right now. Midfield is a minefield of a position because there is such a lot of competition for places already and we couldn’t guarantee he’d be involved with the first team next season. The right decision for him and us, with that in mind, is to let him move on ... but it was an unbelievably hard decision to make.
“All four of these lads have given everything and I think this was the right time to tell them what our plans were. They have been itching to know for weeks now and we promised them we would let them know as soon as the northern area final was out of the way.
“We gave them the option to wait until after the national final against Bristol Rovers, but they all wanted to get it done. For the lads who have had bad news I just hope they all go on to get a medal and get their hands on that trophy.”
Speaking about the notification process which has taken place today, he added: “It’s something I don’t enjoy, but I’ve been through it a number of times now and I’m better at dealing with it.
“There is nothing like being in that room when a young lad is told he won’t be going forward. Sometimes you can’t even look at them because you know how much it hurts. Over the years I’ve seen tears, stiff upper lips ... a full range of emotions.
“I think it’s the tears of joy which bring my tears on these days. My focus for the lads who don’t get offers is to be there to help them, if they want me.
“Some players will walk out of here on their last day and they will never want to hear from me again. Others will keep in touch and ask for advice every now and then – I’ve just had a letter today asking for a reference for Sean Law, for example, and I’m more than happy to do that kind of thing.
“I’ll do whatever I can for them whenever they need me to because there isn’t one of them who has let me down at all.”
And another situation resolved within the ranks of the youth squad came with confirmation that first year midfielder Danny Dixon has also been released.
“Danny Dixon is actually within the age range of being a second year but he joined us from Australia as a late developer and we extended his contract with that in mind,” Kinder said. “That meant he would have been going into his second year with us next season.
“He came to talk to me just before Christmas and he was frustrated because he wasn’t getting into the side. His path has been blocked by players coming in around him and he didn’t want to spend another season of playing the odd part here and there.
“He’s another who hasn’t let himself down. He gave up his life in Australia to have a go at football in this country and it hasn’t quite worked for him. We had our chat and we agreed that it was in his best interests to let him go and I think his plan might be to go back to Australia and pick things up there again. If he does that, or if he stays over here in Newcastle, then I’m sure he’ll make a real go of whatever he does next.”
We’ll have more from Eric Kinder later when he discusses the three players who were offered professional deals today.