This week’s column has to start with the fabulous news that forward Jamal Lawrence signed a two-and-a-half year contract with the club on Thursday.
This was a massive boost to everyone in the department, directors and the fans who have been clamouring for boys to come through the system for a few years now.
With Bobbie Dale, Harry Williams, James Bowen, Zack Kotwica and Joe Hanks all being offered deals it has given everyone a lift and its satisfying that all the hard work from everyone in the youth department is being rewarded. There really has never been a better time to be a youth player at Cheltenham, because if you're good enough and show the right attitude you will get a chance.
Jamal, nephew of former England fast bowler David 'Syd' Lawrence, has been at the club since the Under-nines, so many coaches have had a hand in his development throughout the age ranges and its a big thanks from me to all of them.
It's a real show of support and confidence from Rob Edwards and Paul Buckle to give him 30 months' contract at a young age. We are all sure that he will prove a real success and that fans will enjoy seeing him play in the months and years to come.
While being careful to overpraise at this stage, he is someone who is very mature and level headed for his age and just gets on and does his training and work around the training ground. So well done to Jamal and he knows only too well that the hard work starts now.
Our new set of fixtures have come out for the second half of the season. This will see us play: AFC Wimbledon, Dagenham and Redbridge, Gillingham, Cambridge United, Northampton Town and Leyton Orient as well as Torquay United, Newport County, Oxford United and Bristol Rovers. So some new teams to play against and different parts of the country to go.
With no game on Saturday and the new Merit League starting up next week, we will be having an in-house game with the Under-18s scholars and development players together with the Under-16s at Seasons and a chance to get back into match practice before the next half of the season starts.
This will give us an opportunity to mix players up between the groups and get a real feel of what next season could look like and the chance to look at trialist keeper Niall Maher who recently played for England Schools.