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Clark takes the reins as Bath City academy coach

By This is Bath  |  Posted: June 29, 2009

Billy Clark is unveilled as the new Bath City academy coach

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Billy Clark hopes to bring young players through the ranks 'sooner rather than later' after being appointed as head coach of Bath City's new football academy this morning.

The former Bristol Rovers youth team manager will oversee the new development scheme for 16 to 18-year-olds which has been set up by City in partnership with Writhlington Business and Enterprise School, in Radstock.

"As a youth coach, the job satisfaction comes from seeing young players improve as footballers and progress into the first team," said Clark.

"The long-term goal of the academy is to bring players through the ranks and hopefully that might happen sooner rather than later.

"City did not perform particularly well last season in the South West Conference last season so the short-term aim is to finish as high as possible this time around and possibly go on a good run in the FA Youth Cup."

Clark has good experience in that competition, guiding Rovers to the fourth round last season where they only lost on penalties to eventual finalists Liverpool.

Eight members of that Rovers youth squad were awarded professional contracts by the League One side at the end of the season.

However, Rovers' partnership with Filton College – where Clark had been working for three years – came to an end this summer, to the benefit of City.

"My role at Filton went from full-time to part-time so I looked around for another challenge," said Clark, who holds a UEFA A coaching licence.

"I met Adie Britton and Paul Williams last week and was very impressed by what they had to say and their ambitions for the academy. I felt much more wanted here and I can't wait to get started."

The academy, set up by former City boss John Relish, welcomes its first intake this year. They will study towards a BTEC National Certificate in Sport at Writhlington four mornings a week and train during the afternoons.

It is a similar set-up to the one Rovers had with Filton and Clark agrees that the focus should be on both sporting and academic achievement.

"Not every player goes on to enjoy a career in football," he said.

"My role is to not only develop them as footballers but also to stress to them the importance of their education."

The youth team's footballing education will take place at Twerton Park, a ground Clark is no stranger to following a 10-year playing career at Bristol Rovers.

He also visited the ground on numerous occasions during a nine-year stint in non-league, which saw him play for Clevedon Town, Weston-super-Mare and Newport County.

"Provisionally it looks like the youth team will be playing their home games at Twerton Park next season," he said.

"I hope that is the case because the pitch is in great condition and it will help to inspire the players to want to play there more regularly."

Although the academic course will not commence until the first week in September, the academy's first fixture is on September 5 so Clark will start pre-season planning and arranging friendly matches within the next few weeks.

City managing director Williams said: "The club is very pleased to have obtained Billy's services in an important appointment for Bath City's future football development.

"Adie Britton and I were impressed by Billy's experience and enthusiasm. His role is crucial to the success of this new venture and we believe he will be a valuable member of the club's staff."

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    trevor, Bath  |  June 29 2009, 4:02PM

    What a great signing and if Adie fails to deliver, a perfect replacement in waiting. He's what we need. With his contacts, a very good friend of Andy Tilson now at Exeter, Yes i might renew my season ticket