- Birmingham club benefit from youth system
- Mini and youth graduates boost Old Saltleians first team
North Birmingham club Old Saltleians are reaping the rewards of setting up a mini and junior section 25 years ago.
The Midlands Two West (North) are now regularly fielding a side comprised mainly of players who have graduated from the youth section. This reached its peak for the club’s recent President’s Day match against Shrewsbury at Watton Lane when 16 of Old Saltleians matchday squad were Mini & Junior Old Boys.
Former England Under-18 Clubs winger Nathan Burchall, now playing his club rugby at Sutton Coldfield, is the best-known product of the Old Satlleians youth system but others have won representative honours with North Midlands and Greater Birmingham.
The M&J section was started by Roy Walters, Steve Rawlings and Ben Cheney in 1984, recognising that the feed from Saltley School was starting to dry up.
Ron Parker came on board shortly afterwards and he along Brian Ellis, John Weston and Dennis Butterworth were instrumental in developing the Colts team.
“Colin Gardner was club treasurer at the time and recalls that the committee reluctantly agreed to loan the M&J section £50 to get them under way, such was the pessimism of the club at that time,” said Old Saltleians’ press officer Mandy Lloyd.
“There have been a number of influential figures in driving the youth section, at Chairman, committee and coaching levels, notably, Mick Lee who is in his tenth year as Chairman, Dave Edge who is currently serving as Treasurer, Gez Mandell and Gary Hilder, who have both held a number of key committee positions.”
Peter Merritt, who coached youth rugby at the club in the early 1990s, is now Old Saltleians’ first XV coach.