Academy manager sees more challenges ahead for Jay
Simon Hayward, Academy Manager at the Cat & Fiddle, expressed his pleasure at seeing Matt Jay being offered a first-team contract – and said that his next challenge is to kick on from here.
Jay became the first player to feature under Paul Tisdale before graduating into the first team when he came off the bench against Wycombe in September, and then made a first Football League start last month against Southend. And Hayward, who has known Jay since he joined the club at under-9 level, is hopeful that he can keep fulfilling potential.
“I’m hopeful that he can turn a good start into a career – he knows that he has a long way to go yet before he features in the team on a regular basis,” said Hayward.
“The manager has a lovely phrase that he uses which is very important for Matt to hear – and that’s that when you give a contract to a player, then the very next day he has to start the work to earn the next one.
“That’s Matt’s challenge now – he has that first contract and we’re delighted for him, and now the work starts for him to earn the next one.”
The signs of that happening are good, going on the progression that the 17-year-old has made in his time at Exeter. And, following a weekend when five Academy graduates started against Accrington, Jay becomes the latest player to become a pro after time spent in the Cat & Fiddle youth system.
“He’s put ten years work into it, and so have his parents,” continued Hayward. “And the Academy and its coaching staff deserve a huge amount of credit too for developing a system that has a 17-year-old ready to play League football.
“It’s another sign of the system – I believe that we have improved the Academy system that the players come through over the years so that players are ready to make the step up at a younger age.
“Although Matt is bright and has athleticism, I don’t think he is in the team because of his physical attributes. Matt is making his way in the team with technical and tactical qualities, which are the things that we teach in our Academy.”