FOOTBALL: Sky Sports at Butlin Road to film Vardy hopefuls

Joe Ironside is interviewed    PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Joe Ironside is interviewed PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY

Cameras follow first intake of V9 academy

With Rugby Town this weekend hosting the non-league club where the now-famous England international striker made his first tentative steps in football, Sky Sports recently visited Butlin Road’s 3G artificial pitch facility to capture footage for their forthcoming documentary focusing on Jamie Vardy.

Alex Penny (in orange)

Alex Penny (in orange)

Vardy was at NPL club Stocksbridge Park Steels as a youngster between 2003 and 2010 ahead of his explosion into the sporting public’s eye – culminating in spearheading Leicester City’s unlikely Premier League title success last season, writes Jon Venner.

His personal journey from grass roots to household name has spurred him on to establish his V9 football academy – with the aim of discovering and developing similar talent within the non-league game.

Three players from this coming summer’s initial intake – Alex Penny, David Morgan and Joe Ironside – were based at Valley’s all weather facility as part of the Nuneaton Town squad training there in preparation for Boro’s FA Trophy clash with York, and Sky’s cameras came along to see the three potential starlets in action and interview them for the documentary which is set to air later in the year.

Nuneaton’s full-time Academy Manager (and one-time Valley player) Liam O’Neill explained: “With our own training pitch unplayable, we were fortunate to have had access to the fantastic facility at Butlin Road, and both our scholars and the first team squad were able to train on the pitches during the daytime over a two week period.

David Morgan with the film crew

David Morgan with the film crew

“We are very grateful to Mike Yeats and the rest of the Rugby Town officials for their co-operation and hospitality. It’s always very difficult at this time of year to consistently train on the grass.

“I know that our gaffer Tommy Wright really appreciates the help, and we are hoping to arrange a friendly between the two sides ahead of next season.”

Warwickshire born defender Penny started out on his footballing career at Hull City before signing for Nuneaton via Stourbridge and Hinckley, midfielder Morgan is a Northern lreland U-21 international who joined up with Boro from Ilkeston in 2015 and ex-Sheffield United academy striker Ironside ended up at the club after featuring for Alfreton.

O’Neill continued: “The V9 academy provides a great opportunity for talent within the non-league pyramid to further themselves.

Joe Ironside in action

Joe Ironside in action

“Jamie Vardy and others have proved what can be achieved, and as a club we are delighted to have three players involved in the first intake.”

The academy will be based at Manchester City’s Etihad Training Campus for a five day residential course in May, with the 42 successful recruits having the chance to impress representatives from a number of top domestic and international clubs.