Former Welsh Premier striker’s success proves Wales is a breeding ground for young talent
Whilst former Aberystwyth Town striker Tom Bradshaw was named in Wales’ squad for the World Cup qualifiers this week, his compatriot, Christian Doidge’s success for Forest Green Rovers makes him a fellow flag bearer for the breeding ground the Welsh Premier League is proving itself to be.
Released by both Southampton and Bristol Rovers as a youngster, the then 15 year-old forward found himself in Welsh League Football to gain first team experience with local sides Cwmbran Celtic and then local rivals Croesyceiliog.
However, his form for his local sides saw him gain a move to Division One outfit Barry Town United in November 2011. The youngster notched 16 goals in 16 games for the former Welsh Premier League winners and a further 10 in 14 games the following first half of the season saw him earn a move to Welsh Premier League outfit Carmarthen Town.
Doidge made an immediate impact with the Old Gold. A reliable header of the ball, the forward found himself a consistent name on the scoresheet in the top flight for the club. In his last season with the club, the 24 year-old managed to net 16 goals in 32 games.
His red hot form in front of goal saw him earn a move to League 2 outfit Dagenham and Redbridge. Often a peripheral figure during his two year spell at the club, Doidge showed himself to be more than adept to dealing with the step up in level. In his 46 league games for the club, including 10 from the bench, the striker managed to find the back of the net 10 times.
But, after the expiration of his deal with the club he decided to move on to pastures new with Forest Green Rovers and it is with Rovers that he has found his true form.
In his last 21 games, the former Welsh Premier League striker has notched an impressive 18 goals, as he has already put 20 up for the season.
His magnificent form for the club has propelled them up the table, as they sit level on points with Lincoln City, who have three games in hand. His goals may turn out to be crucial in the title run in and in any potential play-off push. This season has been one of class in front of goal by the player.
But, it’s the player’s form in the Vanarama National League that shows the potential in the Welsh top flight.
The Welsh Premier League seems to be a haven for strikers who make a move into the Football League, with former Aberystwyth Town forward Tom Bradshaw plying his trade with Barnsley in the Sky Bet Championship, and Rhys Healey having recently made his Championship debut with Cardiff City before an injury curtailed his season.
Bradshaw has recently even made his debut for the Welsh national team and his selection for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers emphasises the ability that can be snapped up from the Welsh system under the correct development. gap Connah’s Quay have seen numerous academy prospects snapped up by bigger clubs, including Healey who was signed by Cardiff from the first team. But, even further down their younger age groups are being raided by top clubs, with a teenager recently being signed by Manchester United, such is the quality in the division and their respective academies.
Doidge may not be the best performing former Welsh Premier player in the Football League. But, his commitment and drive has seen him climb from the Welsh Leagues to Football League Divion Two. His rise is evidence of the abundance of quality it is hardly recognised for. And it likely has plenty more untapped potential from where Doidge came from.
PHOTO CREDIT: Christian Doidge Twitter