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21s and Academy

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21s and Academy

Reading Under-21s and Academy
Full name Reading Football Club Under-21s & Academy
Nickname(s) The Royals
Ground Hogwood Park
Chairman Sir John Madejski
Manager Eamonn Dolan (Academy),
Martin Kuhl (Under-21s)
League Professional Development League 1
2013–14 U21s – 17th, U18s – 3rd (South Division)

Reading F.C. Under-21s and Academy are the development teams of Reading Football Club. Following the restructuring of reserve and youth team football in 2012, Reading compete in the Professional Development League 1 and enter teams in both the under-21 and under-18 competitions.

Under the old youth training scheme, the club produced a number of first team players including Ady Williams, Scott Taylor and future England international Neil Webb. Since the Academy opened in 1999, 32 graduates have gone on to play first team football for Reading including Gylfi Sigurðsson, who was later sold for a club record transfer fee.


Reading were granted Academy status by the Football Association in February 1999. The first Academy manager was John Stephenson who oversaw the club's youth development until October 2000 when he left to join Preston North End. He was succeeded by former Reading goalkeeper, and the then goalkeeping coach, Nick Hammond.[1] After his appointment as Reading's first Director of football in September 2003, Hammond combined all three roles until the appointment of Exeter City boss Eamonn Dolan as the new Academy manager in October 2004,[2] a position he still holds. The club originally trained in rented facilities at Sonning Lane and Bradfield College but moved to their own training ground at Hogwood Park in Arborfield in 2004.[3][4] A two-year Academy partnership with Boreham Wood was announced in July 2012[5] with the club also aiming to have a first-team composed of 50% Academy players.[6] The introduction in 2012 of the four-tier academy system under the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) forced the club to search for a new training ground in order to meet the criteria for Category One status.[7] With this in mind, the club agreed in principle to buy land at Bearwood Lakes Golf Club for a new training facility at a cost of between £10 million and £20 million in May 2013.[8][9] In July 2013, the club confirmed they had achieved Category One status.[10]

The Reading reserves competed in the Capital League between 1995 and 1998 before joining The Football Combination which they played in from 1998 until 2006, excluding the 1999–2000 season.[11] With the senior side's promotion to the Premier League in 2006, the reserve team was also promoted to the Premier Reserve League for the 2006–07 season. Under future first-team manager Brian McDermott, the reserves finished top of the Southern section and beat Bolton reserves 2–0 to win the overall title in their first season.[12] They finished second the following year but were relegated as the first team dropped into the Championship.[13] The reserves rejoined the Football Combination following their relegation and remained there until 2010 when they withdrew in order to arrange their own fixtures against a higher level of opposition.[14]

With the club's application for Category One status under the EPPP, the under-21 and Academy (under-18) teams competed in the new Professional Development League 1 for the 2012–13 season.[15] The teams were successful under the new format with the under-18s finishing as runners-up to Fulham in the inaugural competition,[16] and the under-21s winning the first U21 Premier League Cup the following year.[17]

Under-21 squad

The under-21s play their home matches at Hogwood Park, the club's training ground, with four games each season being played at the Madejski Stadium. Three outfield players and one goalkeeper over the age of 21 are allowed to be selected for each fixture,[18] with scholars from the Academy squad also eligible to play. The following players are those in the senior squad who are under 21, but are not regularly involved in first team games.

As of 18 January 2015.[19][20][21][22]
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
No. Position Player
26 DF Pierce Sweeney
28 MF Aaron Kuhl
32 DF Sean Long
33 DF Shane Griffin
34 DF Niall Keown
35 DF Jake Cooper
36 FW Andrija Novakovich
37 MF Jack Stacey
38 MF Liam Kelly
39 MF Tarique Fosu
No. Position Player
41 GK Daniel Lincoln
GK Aleksandar Gogic
GK George Legg
DF Dominic Hyam
DF George McLennan
DF Nana Owusu
MF Samúel Friðjónsson
MF Conor Shaughnessy
FW Bogdan Vaštšuk

Out on loan

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
No. Position Player
27 FW Craig Tanner (at Plymouth Argyle)

Academy squad

Each year, following the completion of their full-time education, the club signs a number of schoolboys, from both within the academy and from other clubs, on scholarship agreements.[23] The scholarships last two years after which the player signs professionally or is released by the club. In instances where a player is particularly valued, the club may opt to sign them on professional terms at an earlier age.[24] The scholars make up the bulk of the Academy team which competes in the under-18 league, though younger players are also eligible. As well as the league, the Academy also enters a team into the FA Youth Cup.

As of 18 January 2015.[25][26][20]


Academy and development staff[35][36]

Former players


Prior to the establishment of the Academy, Reading produced several players for the first-team who went on to have successful careers. Neil Webb became Reading's youngest ever goalscorer aged 17 years and 31 days and made a total of 81 appearances for the club, later going on to win 26 England caps.[37] Ady Williams made nearly 400 appearances in three spells between 1988 and 2004 and was capped 13 times for Wales[38] whilst Stuart Lovell made 227 league appearances, scored 58 times and played twice for the Australia national team.[39] Others to have come through the ranks include Johnny Brooks, Jerry Williams, Steve Hetzke, Scott Taylor and Maurice Evans, who made over 400 league appearances for Reading and later managed the first-team between 1977 and 1984.[40][41]

Since the Academy opened in 1999, 32 graduates have gone on to play for the first team. Players who have gone on to play for their country at full international level are marked in bold whilst those still at the club are marked in italics.[42]

Careers elsewhere

A number of players attached to the Academy as schoolboys and scholars, as well as those who signed professionally but never made a first team appearance, have gone on play league football elsewhere. Those that have gone on to play for their country at full international level are marked in bold.[42][43][44][45][46]

Records and honours

Several Academy graduates hold club records. Peter Castle became the club's youngest ever player when he came on as a substitute against Watford on 30 April 2003 for his first and only Reading appearance, aged 16 years and 49 days, whilst Gylfi Sigurðsson holds the record for the highest transfer fee received when he moved to Hoffenheim in August 2010.[63] In May 2013 Alex McCarthy became the first Reading graduate to be selected in the England squad since the Academy era began in 1999.[64] Additionally, three graduates have been named Player of the Season with Gylfi Sigurðsson, Alex Pearce and Jordan Obita winning in 2009–10, 2011–12 and 2013–14 respectively.[65]

The Football Combination[11]
Winners: 2003–04, 2008–09
Runners-up: 2005–06
Premier Reserve League
Winners: 2006–07[13]
Under-21 Premier League Cup
Winners: 2013–14[17]
Under-18 Professional Development League 1
Runners-up: 2012–13[16]


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External links

  • Under-21 homepage at Reading F.C.
  • Academy homepage at Reading F.C.
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