Rugby Town’s academy set-up is getting back into the swing of things, with their Midland Floodlit Youth League side using Monday’s first league match of the season to pay tribute to the contribution of club stalwart Tony Mann.
Billed as the Tony Mann Appreciation Evening, Valley’s Under 18’s team ran out 3-0 winners against Stourbridge thanks to goals from Mason Platts, Archie Wade and Leo Stone.
Academy Boss Liam O’Neill led the praise for the man who had served the club across many decades before his sad passing last month.
He said: “We felt it was important to mark the contributions of a wonderful generous man and a friend who gave everything to his football club.
“We placed a shirt on the centre spot in honour of Tony and we also marked it with a minute’s applause before kick-off.
“He had played such a huge part since the Academy’s inception three years ago, providing a warm hospitable welcome to all visiting players, officials and supporters on matchday, whilst also raising funds and gaining sponsorship to help provide the lads with the best training equipment possible.”
Town’s young charges continue to enjoy an invaluable footballing education from their Butlin Road base, with O’Neill continuing: “We were back at St.George’s Park this week for the third time already this season to work with FA educators on their UEFA ‘A’ license programme for current professional club coaches – with another trip there coming soon too.”
Three of the present academy crop have had the opportunity of trials with professional clubs, with defender Miles McIntyre now at Crystal Palace following his two week spell at Chelsea last season and goalkeeper Lewis Walker currently at Barnsley, whilst striker Tyler Scott also spent time with Burton Albion recently.
Town’s youth team are next in action when they entertain Coventry Sphinx next Wednesday (August 25), whilst their National League Under 19’s outfit kick off their season on September 8 away to Quorn.
Tony Mann’s funeral was on Tuesday at Rainsbrook Crematorium and was attended by his family, friends and fellow supporters of the club. The wake was held afterwards in the VS Bar and attached club hospitality suite.