Southend United’s Academy has been ranked among the best in the EFL, as well as being placed highly out of the entire English professional pyramid!
The EFL have published data on the ‘productivity’ of each club in England, ranking them on how many young players they produce through their Academy and Development structure reaching first-team football.
The data looks back over the last 12, 9, 6 and 3 seasons up to the 2019/20 campaign, with credit given for players appearing for the first-team of the club, plus those that have gone on to play elsewhere too.
From the period 2017/18 to 2019/20, Blues’ Academy was ranked 16th out of 92, ninth among other EFL clubs and second when rated against other Category 3 Academies.
Academy Manager, and current Assistant Manager at the club, Ricky Duncan was thrilled with the productivity rankings.
"I’m very pleased,” said Duncan. "It goes back to what I say all along, it’s testament to the amount of hours all our staff put in.
"We’ve got a lot of part-time staff that give up so much time, the players and parents give up so much time too, with the full-time staff guiding it.
"Over the years we’ve set something in stone, a way of working, that is paying dividends. It’s paying dividends every single year now and I see that continuing.
"We will continue to develop young players at this football club that will either play for Southend United or move on into other clubs and continue to play football.”
Duncan added: “Ninth out of 72 clubs, for where we are and what we’ve got, is a massive achievement for everyone. For the Board of Directors, the Chairman and everyone who helps us along the way.
"Everyone has their part to play to get us into that position and it’s an exceptional achievement to be that high in the rankings for a Cat 3 club.”
You can see Blues’ Academy Productivity data below:
12 Season Comparison (08/09 to 19/20)
PL and EFL: 51st out of 92
EFL: 33rd out of 72
Category 3: 8th
9 Season Comparison (11/12 to 19/20)
PL and EFL: 43rd out of 92
EFL: 26th out of 72
Category 3: 5th
6 Season Comparison (14/15 to 19/20)
PL and EFL: 45th out of 92
EFL: 28th out of 72
Category 3: 6th
3 Season Comparison (17/18 to 19/20)
PL and EFL: 16th out of 92
EFL: 9th out of 72
Category 3: 2nd
The recently released data comes following Blues’ win over Leyton Orient on Saturday which was sealed thanks to a goal from 20-year-old Academy graduate Matt Rush.
The striker, who joined the youth set-up as a 14-year-old and has been a regular for the U23s this term, came off the bench to net his first senior goal and hand Blues three points against the O’s.
Duncan was delighted for Rush who is one of 16 players to play for the first team this season having come through the Academy.
"For Matt to get the winner, I think everyone at the football club was over the moon for him because he’s such a great lad. He’s Southend through and through.
"It’s been a tough year for Rushy but he’s shown that grit and determination since he’s been at the club to continue fighting his corner by going back down to the U23s and scoring goals, and then his opportunity came again on Saturday.
"He just wants to play for the club and that’s really important. When lads have been at the club a long time, they have an affinity to the club and that’s important."
Key Academy Stats and Facts
- In December 2020, Rob Howard became the 50th youth team graduate to make a first-team debut since Ricky Duncan returned to the club in 2005.
- There has been at least one Academy graduate in every one of the last 203 first-team matchday squads, stretching back to a 3-0 home win over Oldham Athletic on 1st April 2017.
- Since Ricky Duncan returned, a total of 1228 appearances have been made by Academy graduates (872 starts) and 68 goals have been scored.
- This season has already seen the most starts (137) and total appearances (202) by Academy graduates in any campaign over the past 16 seasons.
- A quarter of our league goals this term (7 of 26) have been netted by players that have emerged through the ranks.