What happened to the members of the Cardiff City U18 title-winning squad in 2018/19
Looking back, maybe the writing was on the wall for that sudden glut of talented youngsters who pushed forward when the Cardiff City Under-18s won Professional Development League South in 2019.
That harvest beat the Leeds United academy side in the semi-finals of the domestic competition, but ultimately narrowly lost to Sheffield on Wednesday in the final.
Nonetheless, this feat from such a talented group was a forerunner for things to come.
Cardiff topped the South Division, surpassing Ipswich Town’s Under-18s by one point to reach the top of the ladder in a dramatic climax of this 2018/19 campaign.
Here are the players who played a part in this wonderful campaign and where they are now …
Jordan Duffey – appearances: 4
Was the substitute goalie that season, conceding nine goals in four games. After loans to Hereford FC and Merthyr Town, he was released by the Bluebirds. He currently plays for Lowestoft Town, which is a member of the Southern League Premier Division Central.
George ratcliffe – appearances: 26
The tacked top pick for City that year and continues to be for the Under-23s. Is the Welsh Under-21 goalkeeper and the senior team’s third scorer behind Alex Smithies and Dillon Phillips. A really talented stopper.
Jac Davies – appearances: 19
The full-back was at Cardiff at the age of eight but left in the summer of 2020. He signed for Cymru Premier Cardiff Met. He still plays there and often advances in a winger role for them.
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Connor davies – appearances: 20
Another full-back who has played an important role throughout the campaign. Had a loan with Weston-super-Mare but was eventually released in summer 2020. Joined Cymru Premier squad Penybont FC before moving to Merthyr Town ahead of this season.
Ryan kavanagh – appearances: 17
A central midfielder who is still at the club. The 18-year-old signed his first professional contract with Cardiff City this summer and is a player who is quietly improving every time you see him.
Ben margetson – appearances: 21
A center-back whose father is former Manchester City and Bluebirds goalkeeper Martyn Margetson. Margetson was released by Cardiff and joined his father in Swansea City. It is currently in their configuration for under 23s.
Taylor jones – appearances: 7
Another who signed his first professional contract with Cardiff City this summer. The center-back, who can also play on the right, was captain of Wales at youth level.
Trystan jones – appearances: 17
A defender who could be deployed anywhere on the back line. Jones left Cardiff in 2020 before joining Haverfordwest County in Cymru Premier. This season, however, he signed for Carmarthen Town in JD Cymru South.
Joel bagan – appearances: 22
A name that will be familiar to many. It was this season that really caught the coach’s attention to the left-back. Neil Warnock was a huge fan of him, as was his successor Neil Harris. Was a regular on the first team sides, but has just fallen back a bit in recent months. However, the club has high hopes for him.
Keenan Patten – appearances: 19
Another player the supporters will recognize. The central midfielder has signed a contract extension until 2022 and it looked like he would make his first-team debut under Mick McCarthy, who named him on the bench against Fulham this season. He’s still waiting for his main arc, however.
Ntazana Mayembe – appearances: 18
Mayembe was one of the academy’s most exciting talents at this point. He just fell a bit from lack of form and frustrating injuries, however. Has had a less pronounced role over the past year but remains with the club. Still only 18 years old, has time.
Isaak davies – appearances: 16
A player who has become one of the most exciting on the Cardiff squad in recent months. McCarthy liked him and Steve Morison loves him. Many are hoping he will become a top player for the Bluebirds. The 20-year-old winger is an exciting talent with seven league appearances to his name this season.
Sam bowen – appearances: 28
Has been a team captain extensively during that winning season in the league, scoring five goals. Many wondered if a first-team breakthrough would come, but he really impressed McCarthy in the preseason and pulled it off. Also impressed the fans in his five senior outings, before a foot injury that he has yet to overcome.
Dan Griffiths – appearances: 24
Was an absolute superstar in this season. Comfortably Cardiff’s top scorer, Griffiths scored 18 goals for the young Bluebirds en route to the title. We hoped he would jump in and find his way into the senior fray. Was on loan at Penybont after that season and scored six goals for the Cymru Premier side but was unfortunately released this summer. He signed for Chippenham Town this summer and has scored twice in 13 games for the National League South team.
Cian ashford – appearances: 1
He only made one appearance in the Under-18s that season, he was only 15 at the time and scored! Is now recognized as one of the club’s best youngsters. The 17-year-old forward is a name to listen to.
Eli King – appearances: 9
The central midfielder has improved over the seasons at Cardiff. So much so that Mick McCarthy’s final act as boss of the Bluebirds was to give him his first-team debut against Middlesbrough. The 18-year-old now plays regularly for the Under-23s.
Rudy Andrew Knott – appearances: 4
The striker joined academy from Southampton that season but spent the campaign alone in the Welsh capital. I went to Eastleigh before landing at Gosport Borough in the Southern League Premier Division South.
Jack masrani – appearances: 2
The center-back was released by the club this summer and remains alone.
Owen Pritchard – appearances: 2
A defender who has become a regular on Cardiff City’s youth teams in recent years. The 18-year-old right-back has gained admirers from frequent academy observers this calendar year.
Frazer Thomas – appearances: 1
The central midfielder has only made one lone appearance in this campaign. Was moved over the summer and was picked up by Merthyr Town, from the south side of the Premier League of the South League.
Will warnock – appearances: 1
A familiar last name! The son of former Bluebirds boss Neil, of course. Left Cardiff after his father, the defender now plays for Bodmin Town FC in Cornwall.
Kieron evans – appearances: 19
The young winger has played an important role in the campaign, scoring nine vital goals throughout the season. He always seemed to have the talent, but now he’s had the opportunity to show it. The 20-year-old has five senior appearances to his name this quarter.
Zion Spence – appearances: 19
Scored 10 goals in 15 games during this season. Has emerged as a player of vital importance after winning the Academy Player of the Year award the previous season. He was loaned to Barry Town United the following season and many believed he would make the first team. But the club knew they had a Rubin Colwill and chose to keep him in Spence’s place. Spence was picked up by Premier League side Crystal Palace to whom he is on loan from Bristol Rovers in League Two. He has three goals in 11 outings for the Gas.
Sam parsons – appearances: 18
The left-back was released by the Bluebirds a year after winning the Under-18 League. After a few months of absence, he was picked up by JD Cymru on the south side of Llanelli Town.
Rubin colwill – appearances: 17
The player who has undoubtedly come the furthest since this season. Only managed one goal and often had to impact the bench. But when McCarthy arrived at the club, he recognized his talent and promoted him to the senior setup. Has become a key player for City and a full Welsh international.
Siyabonga Ligendza – appearances: 12
Another talented forward who was playing for the Under-18s two years earlier. I managed only one goal, but now it’s an important part of the academy setup.
Harry pinchhard – appearances: 17
The midfielder has been another important cog in the wheel during the season. He was released by Cardiff in the summer of 2020 and has undergone trials at several clubs, including Manchester City. However, before this season he signed for Hereford FC in the National League North.
* NB. Warren Burwood came for an appearance in the semi-final with Leeds United after a late injury to George Ratcliffe in the goal. Burwood now plays for Lowestoft in the Southern League Premier Division Central.
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