As the 2021/22 season draws to a close we took the opportunity to talk all things Paget Rangers with Juniors Chairman and First Team Manager, James Parker.
Every year we try to improve the Club from the bottom, all the way through to the First Team at the top. I am confident that we are in a stronger position now than we were this time last year, said Parker. Of course the 2020/21 season was heavily curtailed by the Covid pandemic, however, I think we’ve come back really strong this season with lots of positive things going on in the Club.
There have been lots of highlights to reflect on. I was delighted that we were given the opportunity to participate in the Sutton Community Games last summer and thank organiser Dennis Kennedy for inviting us. I have always seen our role as a Club as being at the heart of the Community and it was fantastic to be part of such a great event, giving so many young children the chance to play football and many other sports, some for the first time. Some of the young children who came to participate that day have gone on to join our Club.
So we moved on to the start of the season, with Junior teams participating in the Junior Premier League, from u8 – u16. There can be no doubt that the standard of this league is especially strong, although equally there is an overriding commitment to development. For us at Paget Rangers, Junior football is exactly that, developing players. We take great pride in the standard of coaching provided by Peter Shearer and his team of coaches to all of our Junior players. This is coaching of the highest quality delivered by professional, qualified coaches, who follow a programme developed by Peter.
The opportunity to play against the best players is an integral part of developing our Juniors and as recently as Easter I drove to Manchester to watch a number of our teams take part in the Manchester Easter Cup, against some of the best teams from all over the country. This was a fantastic experience for our young players and all part of their football education. The memories these young players took away from that tournament will never be forgotten.
We have also seen a number of our young players be offered places at Professional Academies. This is always a great achievement for any young player and we are delighted as a Club to have helped these young footballers on their journey.
My position has always been very clear. Paget Rangers will always be about giving our young players the opportunity to play first team football. There is little point in us, the players and their parents investing so much time, effort and money into a player’s development if there is no route to our own First Team. For me there is no greater feeling than seeing players pull on the gold and black shirt for the First Team, who have been with the Club for years. A total of 9 players, who have come through the Juniors made a combined total of 153 First Team appearances this season, scoring 18 goals into the bargain. This is a fantastic achievement and these players will find the experience they have gained this season will be invaluable in the season ahead. Could we one day see an entire Paget First Team made up of players having progressed through the Junior ranks Parker was asked? Why not, it might be a dream but if they’re good enough they’ll always get their chance at this Club.
2022 was also the year that we were delighted to welcome Matthew Dainty back to the Club, as Chairman of the First Team. Matthew’s legacy with Paget Rangers is already assured having reformed the Club in 2012, but Parker was quick to stress his own feelings that having Matthew back on board was a major coup for the Club. Matthew brings a wealth of experience of Non League football, which is priceless to our Club and I see him playing a pivotal role in our continued development and progress as a Club.
Earlier this year we also welcomed Sutton Coldfield MP, Andrew Mitchell, to the North Birmingham Academy, the home of the Paget Juniors. I think it is safe to say he was very impressed with what he saw and what we are trying to achieve as a Club, said Parker.
Parker was quick to highlight that whilst our plans for next season, both for the Paget Juniors and the First Team are well advanced, the Club have a number of ongoing projects that we are working on and hope to be in a position to make announcements in the near future. Football in the Community and giving everyone the same opportunity is something I am personally very passionate about Parker was keen to point out.
The opportunity to play football at good facilities is never lost on me and as recently as last Saturday we hosted a number of young local teams at the North Birmingham Academy, at no cost at all to any of the players who attended. This was a fantastic morning of football with lots of young players enjoying the opportunity to play on our fantastic 4G pitch.
Our ultimate goal is to secure our own facilities said Parker. We have achieved so much already without the benefit of our own ground and I have no doubt that with the collective ability of so many people involved in the Club, if we were able to secure a ground of our own there would be no limit to what we could do. If anyone out there is able to help us please get in touch!