Bryan Klug can deliver academy success again, says former Ipswich Town youngster

Chris Hogg in action for Hibernian

Chris Hogg in action for Hibernian - Credit: PA

He was the England under-15 captain and could have had his pick of clubs, but as soon as Chris Hogg stepped foot inside Ipswich Town’s Playford Road training ground, he knew he wanted to become a Blue. With Ipswich set to apply for Category 1 Academy status, CHRIS BRAMMER found out why the defender thinks good times could be just round the corner again

The facilities, the coaching staff, the location, everything was perfect. And while things didn’t work out in the long term for the Teesider at Portman Road, Chris Hogg has absolutely no regrets about making that 2002 switch from York City.

Indeed, with Town set to apply for Category One status, the Inverness Caledonian Thistle defender, 28, who has just returned to full fitness following two years out with a “snapped knee”, has no hesitation in backing Bryan Klug to bring success back to the Blues’ youth ranks.

Hogg had already departed the club to join Scottish team Hibernian, prior to the Blues’ youth team winning the FA Youth Cup in 2005, but knew the right foundations had been put in place by the likes of Klug.

“I had been to visit a few academies, the likes of Manchester United and Nottingham Forest and they had unbelievable set-ups, but as soon as I saw the facilities and the training ground at Ipswich Town, I knew I wanted to be part of it,” said Hogg, who cost the Blues around £150,000 in compensation.

“They were one of the first clubs to introduce an air dome and everything about the club was great, it was a fantastic atmosphere.

“We were looked after by the likes of Bryan Klug and another coach, Ian Smith, at the time. I knew I had joined a good club.

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“If anyone can get the club back to the position it was in before, with regards to the academy, it is Bryan.

“Along with the rest of his staff, he knows how to find young players and coach them and everyone is treated equally.”

Hogg left the club without making a single appearance, but after two separate loan spells at Boston United, he got the chance to join Hibernian and former Town defender Tony Mowbray, who was then manager of the Easter Road club.

“Ipswich holds fond memories for me and I had a great time,” said Hogg.

“I was a little disappointed how it worked out and I would have liked to have made an impression football-wise, but these things happen and looking back, I don’t have a single regret.

“If it was not for Ipswich I would not have met my wife and some of the people in the area and I would love to spend some more time there in the future.”

Just like 14-year-old Andre Dozzell currently, Hogg spent much of his time at Portman Road playing in the age groups above, such was his progression, and explains it was an honour to play alongside players that would go on and forge good careers in the top flight, such as Darren Ambrose and Darren Bent.

“Not too many in my age group kicked on,” said Hogg.

“Matt Richards has had a good career in the professional game, while there was a lad called Robert Dickinson who was the most naturally-talented player I have ever seen.

“But I played a lot in the age group above, spending a lot of time with Darren Ambrose and Darren Bent and the standard was really higher than what I was used to, and that is not being disrespectful to York City.

“It took me a couple of months to adapt to the club’s ethos but it was unbelievable for me.

“They had the know-how to produce better players, both from a physical point of view and technical, and obviously, the higher you went the better the standard got and that really helped me.”

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