Bracknell Town Youth Team boss Steve Jenner is eagerly anticipating the new season following a pre-season spent re-shaping his championship winning side. Here he talks exclusively to bracknelltownfc.com about the 2012/13 season.
Jenner has seen Joel Davison, Jake Keohane, Luke Redman, Matt Higham, and goalkeeper Matt Hill all graduate to senior football at Larges Lane over the summer.
He said: “Pre-season with the new lads is going great, I’m very excited about working with a new squad, the majority of which will be with me for the next two years”.
The young Robins – sponsored for 2012/13 by Trade Worx UK – will once again compete in the South division of the Allied Counties after declining promotion to the Premier.
For Jenner, this has worked out well with Wokingham & Emmbrook Youth relegated to the South and playing their home games at Larges Lane next season, making for a series of tasty local derbies with the likes of Binfield, Highmoor, Thatcham and Sandhurst.
“Who wouldn’t be excited about it (the derbies).
“Over the years I’ve got a good record in them.
“I believe last seasons loss at Ascot United was my first. There is one particular derby though I am looking forward to..!”
The division will be tougher than ever, but Bracknell have pedigree now with a league title and some remarkable progress in the FA Youth Cup that saw a trip and eventual exit to a Torquay United Academy side in the first round proper a season ago.
Jenner though isn’t feeling the pressure: “Not at all, my job is to bring players through to the reserves and first team.
“If we win things while doing that then happy days. Most people that know me will always want to beat me!”.
Inevitably, with an upper age limit, it is tough to continuously refresh the squad every season but Jenner is more than up for the challenge.
He says “I look at it as a challenge every year. With the side changing every season it gives me the chance to work with new players and hopefully improve their football careers.
“I set myself high standards and it is my job to ensure the team match that”.
The side usually play in the pre-season Arsenal Tournament at Royal Holloway University – there is no event this year due to the Olympics – and were honoured with a Fair Play award last season against some talented opposition.
The youth team has always had a shining reputation within the club for producing quality players – something Jenners keen eye has continued, financial restrictions and a lack of reserve team has meant a heavy reliance from the first team on youngsters over the last ten years.
Sam Barratt and Matt Higham both featured heavily last term and quickly became key players, while the season before, Sam’s older brother Tom broke through and made himself an integral part of the side – he has barring a stint in goal played almost every position for the club.
A regular graduation continues this year with Davison, Hill, Redman and Keohane signing senior forms, something Jenner is intensely proud of.
“In my mind it shows I am doing my job, and now we have a Reserve side even more players should be graduating.
“Of course that is more pressure but you never know, maybe one day I’ll get to manage all the lads that have graduated over the years!”.
Pressure? We think Steve can handle it!
* The full constitution for the Allied Counties Youth League South Division: Alton Town, Binfield, Bracknell Town, Eversley & California, Fleet Town, Highmoor Ibis, Newbury, Sandhurst Town, Tadley Calleva, Thatcham Town, Wokingham & Emmbrook
The new Youth Team section is now live on the website. See it here.