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Rising Stars: Tuffley Rovers Youth Under-14 Clarets

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Author: Roger Jackson, Posted: Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 09:00

Tuffley Rovers Youth Under-14 Clarets Tuffley Rovers Youth Under-14 Clarets

Tuffley Rovers Youth Under-14 Clarets have certainly hit the ground running this season.

They’ve been banging in the goals for fun while making a perfect start to their Severn Valley Youth League Under-14 Division A campaign, winning all six of their matches so far.

And unsurprisingly, their manager, Dave Cornock, has enjoyed the past two or three months every much as his young players.

“I really enjoy coaching them,” said 45-year-old Cornock, a long-time club stalwart. “This is my sixth season with them, I’ve had them since the under-9s.”

And they’ve certainly come a long way in that period.

“We lost our first game 23-0 but since then we’ve got better and better,” said Cornock, who operates alongside long-time assistant Marcus Gardiner.

Only five of that original squad are still with the club, including Cornock’s son Jaiden, who plays centre-half alongside Junior Wilson, who Cornock senior describes as “a very good player”.

At the other end of the pitch, Reece Billingham has scored 18 of their 31 league goals and it’s not difficult to see why they are setting such a strong pace in the seven-strong division.

They were flying high when the pandemic disrupted their campaign the previous year and Cornock says his team of rising stars are determined to go all the way this season.

“The boys have got a real desire, they really want to win,” added Cornock.

And while winning is obviously important in any sport, it is not the be-all and end-all for Cornock.

“I don’t look at just winning,” he insisted. “I look at their development, I want to get them ready for men’s football, I want to make them better.”

The youngsters train twice a week and play matches at the weekend with Cornock explaining: “We run it like at an academy at grassroots level.”

Cornock, a former player at the club who helps with the club’s under-18s and also coaches the club’s development team which plays in the Hellenic League, likes to be hands-on and he is liking what he sees from his all-conquering under-14s.

“We’ve got a great, diverse bunch,” he said. “We’ve got 18 signed on and they all wanted to stay with the club. They’re a fantastic group, they’ve really gelled and they’re doing really well.”

And while he likes the characters in his squad, Cornock likes the way they play too.

“We play a very expansive game,” he said. “We play 4-3-3 and play out from the back but they can switch to 4-4-2. They know how to play in possession and when out of possession, they understand the technical side of the game.”

And as well as a coach, Cornock, who is vice-chairman of the club’s youth section, is also something of a father figure.

“I’m a dad, doctor, psychiatrist,” he said. “I want to help them in life, I want them to have fun but win, lose or draw I want them to be humble.

“Our aim is to give them a safe haven where they can thrive in a sporting environment.”

And one person who is certainly thriving is the aforementioned Reece Billingham.

“He’s left-footed and he’s dynamite, he’s a natural footballer and scores a lot of goals but the frightening thing is he misses more than he scores,” said Cornock, who was a very decent goalscorer for Tuffley’s 2nds and 3rds back in the day himself. “But his link-up play is improving and he’s starting to get assists, I love him to bits.”

Billingham, like his team-mates, could be playing for the club in the Hellenic League when he is 16 so it is vital that he and they continue to develop under the watchful eye of Cornock.

But while Cornock has a key role, he is not the only one, of course.

“I’d like to thank all the grassroots volunteers who do so much to help the club,” said Cornock. “The parents who run the line and do so much else.

“It’s all about the kids but without people at all clubs working behind the scenes it wouldn’t be possible.”

Other Images

Manager Dave Cornock

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