‘It feels like getting promoted’ – Colchester United stalwart Karl Duguid

Karl Duguid

Karl Duguid - Credit: Archant

Colchester United club stalwart, Karl Duguid, has likened the U’s new Category Two Academy status to “getting promoted.”

Duguid was a product of the U’s youth team set-up of the mid-1990s, when facilities were at best, poor, and at worst non-existent!

You could argue that the lack of a permanent training ground, or even a regular club HQ, did not hamper Duguid himself during a fruitful playing career spanning 20 years as a professional, and 525 league appearances (418 of them for the U’s).

But the 36-year-old, who made a cameo appearance on the final day of last season (at Walsall), before hanging up his boots to concentrate on his role as a coach, understands how crucial the U’s new Category Two status will be to the future of the club.

Chairman Robbie Cowling confirmed last weekend that the U’s would be granted Category Two status for the new campaign, although the League One club does need to find an alternative indoors facility to rubber-stamp their new position.

“It’s such an important result for the club, and it’s going to give everyone a big boost, both the club and the whole town,” enthused Duguid last night.

“It will mean better competition for everyone, for all the youth teams and for the under-21 development squad. Category Two will be great for the club.

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“We are trying to bring more and more players through the Academy, and this will help us. That’s the way the club is moving forward.

“It’s a massive thing. The youth team (under-18s) did really well last season (won a league-cup double) in Category Three, but moving up a level will mean playing better teams.

“The under-21s will also be in a structured league, rather than just playing friendlies, so in a way it feels just like getting promoted!” added Duguid.

The U’s have cut their budget for recruiting players, over the last three seasons, and instead have aimed to bring through their own young talent – manager Joe Dunne, over the last couple of years, has introduced former youth teamers like Alex Gilbey, Macauley Bonne and Sammie Szmodics into the first team set-up.

It’s all such a far cry from Duguid’s own experiences as a youth teamer.

“It’s great to have a permanent base and fantastic training facilities (at Florence Park). When I was a youngster, we’d find somewhere to train, like the Garrison or University, and then it was often just a case of grabbing a roll and a packet of crisps from the Corner bar at Layer Road!” added Duguid.

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