Grimsby Town young guns can go all the way, says Robbie Stockdale
ROBBIE Stockdale says Grimsby Town's current crop of young guns can go on to make their mark in the Mariners' first team.
The former Youth boss began work at Premier League Sunderland this week following his departure from Blundell Park.
And after passing the baton on to Academy manager Adam Smith, Stockdale insists he will be watching his young charges' progress with great interest.
He said: "Their performances have been great and there's no reason why that shouldn't continue.
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"I've told them to give it their all because it's a fantastic opportunity for the kids throughout the system to play for their local team and hopefully progress into the first team.
"That should still be the aim and I've no doubt that there are players in the system who can do that.
"There have been difficult times, which have been well documented, but I see no reason why the youth system can't go from strength to strength.
"I'll be looking out every week to see how they get on and I'm sure I'll keep in touch with the guys as well.
"I'll certainly still be around – the boys have all got my numbers, so if they have any problems they can give me a bell."
Alan Buckley brought the Scotland international full-back to the club from Tranmere Rovers in 2008.
And, despite persistent injury problems eventually forcing his retirement from the game, Stockdale will take away some fond memories of his time in Cleethorpes.
"As a player, it was frustrating," he added. "I came from a club where I played every minute of every game but I got injuries here, which just kept cutting me back.
"As a coach, it's been a huge learning curve and I perhaps didn't realise how hard it would be.
"It's a 24/7 job, and with the set-up's funding issues it's been tough, but also a great grounding for me – I've learnt a hell of a lot.
"There are some very good people at Grimsby Town who go above and beyond what their job roles actually are.
"I've had some of the best people I've ever met alongside me – Adam Smith, Ollie Cowling, Nathan Collins, people like that are absolute gems and without them I wouldn't be moving on. I've had that grounding of a proper football club with proper people.
"Hopefully I'm leaving the system on a bit of a high – we've still got our School of Excellence, the games programme, and the PPAG (Parents Partnership Action Group) have been fantastic.
"There have been some tough times but that only makes you stronger – if you get through them it makes you a better person."