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Club News

Farewells and a warm welcome during eventful summer

An insight into developing our future talents

17 August 2022

Club News

Farewells and a warm welcome during eventful summer

An insight into developing our future talents

17 August 2022

In his monthly update, Academy Manager Michael Hamilton summed up an eventful period that involved young talents leaving and potential Dons stars of the future progressing further up the ranks.

Michael's full update is published in full below.


Over the summer we announced that two highly talented youngsters had been sold to clubs higher up the ladder. Archie Stevens departed to join Rangers and Leon Chiwome signed for Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Naturally, ts very disappointing to lose any players at any age, especially when you consider the hard work that goes into recruiting and developing such talent - Premier League clubs right on our doorstep.

It’s very easy to get annoyed, but ultimately its part of our industry. The journeys of individual players mean at some stage they either get released, progress to the first-team, or we ‘lose’ players to other clubs.

For every player we ‘lose’, I’d like to think we have at least two or three that have a good chance of progressing and breaking into the our first-team.

Ethan Sutcliffe, Marcel Campbell, Ben Mason, Quaine Bartley and Josh Hallard are the latest five players that have progressed from the Academy, earning their first professional contracts, and they will now transition to the next stage of their journey. The aim now will be to develop and break into the first-team within the next 36 months or so.

Off the pitch, we waved goodbye to some very significant practitioners with James Oliver Pearce (Under 18s Head Coach) and Liam Conner (Head of Academy Physical Performance) leaving us, as well as some part-time staff members. We wish them all the best in the next stage of their careers.

Simon Clark 4 Aug.jpg


As recently publicised, Simon Clark joins us as the new Under-18s Head Coach and brings with him a wealth of knowledge and experience. Simon, who recently completed the FA Advanced Youth Award, is in the process of gaining his UEFA Pro Licence, had a playing career that involved over 300 league appearances, and has coaching experience both in the UK and abroad.

We will be restructuring our Physical Performance department moving from a one-person lead (that oversees the provision) and towards more phase specific management. Martin Davidson comes in as Under-18 Physical Performance Lead, after spending two years assisting Chris McConnell with the first-team.

The other two roles within the department we are in the process of finalising. 

Richmond Park - Under-18s.jpeg

Academy Pre-season:

Our Under-18s and Under-15s/16s returned to pre-season at the end of June in preparation for the start of the season.

The Under-18s had a varied pre-season games schedule that included us hosting two teams from India - Kerala Blasters FC and Bengaluru FC.

You may also seen that both the Under-18s and Under-15/16s completed the traditional Richmond Park Run, which provides players with an insight into the challenges they will have to overcome if they are to smash their personal and team objectives.

The younger age groups (U9 – U14s) are currently enjoying their summer holidays, before returning in the middle of August, and their season kicks off four weeks later in September.

One Shot: The Football Factory.

The Academy feature in a football documentary that started from Sunday 7 August on Sky Documentaries.

The show follows young promising footballers in their quest to earning professional contracts - Quane Bartley and Ben Mason representing the academy.

Filming took place over 12 months, accumulating into hundreds of hours of recording. We feature from episode three and it gives access to some behind-the-scenes moments and insights that may be of interest to our fans and anyone interested in football. 

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