Grimsby Town star Liam Hearn throws his support behind initiative
LIAM Hearn believes there is plenty of talent in Grimsby Town's Youth team – and has called on the area's businesses to do all they can to support it.
Last season's top-scorer has urged local firms to sign up to the Century Club – launched by the Grimsby Telegraph, in partnership with the Mariners to help bring through the next generation of Town stars.
The initiative calls on 100 businesses to pledge £200 each to sustain and grow the set-up, which is now led by former YT Alan Lamb and Youth team boss Adam Smith.
Since it's launch, the Century Club has been a huge success, with companies from far and wide pledging their support for the Mighty Mariners.
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And speaking to the Telegraph, Hearn described the campaign as a great idea and called on even more firms to sign up and help secure a set-up that he feels will help to "keep the club afloat" in the future.
The 27-year-old, who is currently on the comeback trail after rupturing his Achilles in August, said: "I think the Century Club is a great idea and I'm definitely in support of it.
"With Grimsby, it's crucial that you keep the youth involved.
"Since I've been injured, I've been doing a lot of work with Dave Smith and various other people at the club, to get out and engage with the community to help people understand that the youth system is what will keep Grimsby Town afloat.
"Any good club has a strong youth set-up – just look at clubs like Manchester United; their success comes from their youth.
"If you haven't got your youth coming through, it's hard to be successful in the long-run.
"I'm from Nottingham and if you look at Nottingham Forest, they sold a lot of their younger players like Michael Dawson, Jermaine Jenas, Tom Huddlestone and you look at them, if they'd have kept them you wonder where they would be now.
"It's important for our youth team to be as strong as it can and if businesses want to come on board to support that then I think it's great – it will be beneficial to the club in the long run."
During his recuperation from injury, Hearn has seen plenty of the club's Youth team players and says there is bags of potential within Adam Smith's side.
He added: "There are some really promising players in the Youth team at the minute.
"I've seen a few of them and there is some talent there.
"Young Lewis Smith is a great player and I like the look of him.
"People may be worried about his height but I don't agree with that – there are a lot of great players who aren't tall who put themselves about.
"I know with Lewis, he's always in the gym and working hard.
There is also Will Peers, Blaize Kerr, Rob Bryant – it's good to see that talent is there.
"The attitude and the mentality of the youth team has changed this year as week. It was quite laid back, but this year but Adam has come in and really worked them hard – they're in the gym grafting every day and Adam is getting a lot out of them.
"He's preparing them well for what our gaffers expect and that is work-rate and desire, which is good because if these lads do get their opportunity in the first team, they need to hold their own in what is a tough, physical league.
"Adam has taken that on board and he's getting the best out of the kids at the club, hopefully that will give them a shot this year and we'll see more of them next year when they get a pro contract."
To sign up to The Century Club, call Dave Smith on 01472 608007.