By Paul Connolly
Whitby Town’s players could be set to rise to prominence, along with a number of non-league stars, thanks to Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy, as part of a new SkySports documentary.
Vardy’s V9 Academy, the brainchild of the England international, contains 42 semi-professional players, the first of which were signed in October 2016. Sky cameras have been following all of the hopefuls for six fly-on-the-wall documentaries that will air around the start of the 2017/18 season.
— Jamie Vardy (@vardy7) November 23, 2016
The film crew was at the Turnbull Ground, when the Seasiders hosted Middlesbrough in the North Riding Senior Challenge Cup, looking at a number of talents within Chris Hardy’s squad.
Ian Henderson, filming for the channel on the evening, believes the academy could potentially pick up players from the Seasiders.
“They’re very talented and have a lot of energy,” Henderson told Yorkshire Voice.
“They were really good. You look at them and you see that there is a great deal of talent there and if somebody spots that, they could go really far.”
The idea came from Vardy himself, along with his wife Rebekah, and agent John Morris, who is looking to give something back to the non-league game, that has played such a substantial part in his career.
“Jamie wants to give something back to non-league footballers,” Henderson added.
“He’s looking for the best non-league footballers to come and get an opportunity to make it in the Football League.
“There’s a lot of talent in non-league football that really needs to be given the chance to come back up.
“We’re [SkySports] following the whole story and trying to get the upshot on exactly what it is to be a footballer.”
Former Middlesbrough winger Lee Tucker, who was appointed as the academy’s head of recruitment last year, believes that Hardy’s club is a perfect place for players to develop before heading back into the pro game.
“It would be good exposure for the clubs, as well as the players,” Tucker told Yorkshire Voice.
“Whitby, for example, is an ideal place, if you look at what Chris Hardy has done there. He’s got them playing football and looking good on the field.
“It’s an ideal base for anyone wanting to go back into the pro game. They play the right way and we could have been looking at any one of a number of players in that side.”
With thanks to Peter Hampshire and Whitby Town FC for footage.