When the COHA academy set up was announced in 2015, Neil Hudgell and Adam Pearson were at pains to tell us all that both Hull clubs were at the forefront of youth development and the move was ground breaking because both clubs were leading the way of a creation of the ‘Super Academy’ which could provide a model for all other clubs to follow.
Despite having an ‘outstanding’ grade for their own academy, Adam Pearson lamented that ‘The harsh reality is that the talent pool of players in the hotbed of RL that is Hull is smaller that it once was’. Therefore combining the talent pools of both clubs and attracting players from further afield would eventually pay dividends for FC and KR.
Fast forward two years and it seems that the reverse is happening. Castleford Tigers recently announced that of 17 scholarship players they’ve signed for next years Under 16s are NINE from Hull clubs. Does that mean they are not good enough to get into the COHA?
In my opinion the only people who have bought into the concept totally are the clubs owners and the staff who work within the academy. There is disdain amongst both sets of fans as there has been since day one, there is apathy amongst the amateur clubs who nurture these lads from 5 and 6 years old to have them taken off them and into the academy scheme and then not allowed to play the lads in any other games for them.
Some of the players already within the system can’t and won’t buy into the system because they haven’t got an affinity with a ‘concept’, Amalgamating the two teams automatically culled the separate academies by at least 50% of playing talent, lads who aspired to play for Hull or Rovers only to be told they weren’t good enough to be in THE academy, what a blow that must of been for some lads who in some cases will have become quickly disillusioned with the entire sport and lost as a result, reducing our ‘no’ talent pool even more.
The originals were ring fenced by their parent clubs but now they sign for the one entity and are effectively now in a 2 team draft system, who if neither of the teams ‘fancy’ them they are cast aside at 18 or 19 and therefore 3 to 4 years wasted when they may think, hang on Castleford Tigers for example WANT me at their club and this gives the lads the inspiration to put there all into it.
It could be argued that it condenses the talent in Hull and we get the best of the best in our academy but the opposite argument is we only get what’s left. I find it difficult to support a joint venture merely because its not MY club, and i know a lot of mates from the other side of this city who feel the same, this cannot be good in the long run because have we’ve seen with the joke that is the football club, divide and conquer attitude doesn’t benefit anyone in the long run.
What is nailed on though is if FC lads played for Hull FC academy and KR lads played for Hull KR academy, the cream would still rise to the top but it would be double the quantity of cream which would benefit the 1st grade sides of both clubs.
What if a current academy lad is from a die hard KR family for example would he put the same effort and commitment into playing for Hull FC if he was ‘drafted’ by them?
I’d say in most cases not, If it was me (many moons ago) I’d have rather have gone to any other team in the country then don a red and white shirt. I’d have never ever have been welcomed back into my family. This may sound like a prehistoric approach, but I defy any die hard of either club to disagree with me on this.
Personally the ‘Super Academy’ concept has failed. No other clubs have jumped on it on the success of COHA and seen it as a Eureka moment and its time we went back to separate youth set ups, especially with the demise of the reserve grade competition.
Get the black and white youngsters at FC and vice versa in East Hull, teach them the structures of their club from an early age and let them grow and develop in a club were all are singing from the same hymn sheet, and let them continue with their youth/amateur sides for as long as possible. Kids like to support and play for their TEAM not for a concept.