Skyrme: “I’m loving it here”

New u18s coach enjoying life at the Cat & Fiddle

Lee Skyrme, who was appointed as head coach for Exeter City’s under-18s during the summer, is settling well into life in Devon and working with the Grecians’ unpolished diamonds at the Cat & Fiddle.

The Academy’s newest appointment joined Exeter from Cardiff City, and he gave us a brief account of his footballing CV spanning over the past two decades, as well as doffing his cap to people at every level of the club that have helped him get started straight away.  Fans will be able to see Skyrme on the touchline at St James Park on Tuesday, as our under-18s face their counterparts from Premier League giants Man City in a marquee friendly.

“I’m loving it – I’m really enjoying it,” said Skyrme.  “The people have been absolutely fantastic; the players have been a real joy to work with, and the staff right through the Academy, the first-team and throughout the club have been very welcoming and helpful.

“I worked with the youth team at Cardiff for seven years before I came here, working initially as an assistant to the youth team and with some of the younger ages and then working my way to being the professional development coach there.  

“Prior to that, I was working with the FAW in coaching education and football development, and have played for teams Welsh Premier League and in Germany – so for the last 20 years of my life I’ve been involved in football, by playing semi-professionally and coaching.”

Skyrme gave praise in particular to the under-18 squad that he has inherited this season, who have continually impressed him with their attitude and application.

He continued: “The biggest compliment I can pay is to the players I work with.  They work very hard, they’re very grounded, and very talented.  

“It’s a smaller squad than I’m used to, as I had about 20 players at Cardiff, but that has been nice because I’ve been able to get to know them a little bit quicker and I can focus on the individual a lot more.

“We want to turn out good people too – and they already are.  The better the person, the better the player – off the pitch they are respectful, educated and motivated.”

Skyrme brings experience of working at a Category 2 Academy with the Bluebirds, and that status remains a long-term target of Exeter’s to achieve.  And while he offers a bank of knowledge that he can offer to the City setup, Skyrme also insists that there has been plenty for him to learn from the environment he has come into.

“I’d like to think that what I have learnt over the years will improve me, and if it’s improving me then it’ll bring something to the table,” said Skyrme.  “But Exeter has its own name, its own reputation and it is building its own profile – so it’s as much about what I can learn from what is happening here as what I can bring to the table.

“Before I came here I was already aware of Exeter’s reputation – I had played against Exeter a couple of times with Cardiff with the under-18s and under-21s, and was already aware of the good football they were playing and the footballers they produced.

“So since being here, I’ve seen where all that good work gets done.  It is really pleasing to see people like Matt Jay do what he did [making his first-team debut against Wycombe] – he thoroughly deserved it, and at the moment he is flying the flag for all the other kids in the Academy, as well as the coaches, physios and parents.”

Academy manager Simon Hayward also paid tribute to the new under-18s coach for the way he has made a seamless arrival at the club and picked up the baton straight away – as well as offering a fresh perspective.

“We’re glad to have Lee on board and he has made a great start, which has manifested itself with Matt Jay getting an opportunity in the first team – though of course he shares the credit with the other people that have made that possible, which include the 15 or 16 coaches he has worked with down the years, Matt’s parents, Matt himself, and the manager for giving him the chance.

“Lee has made a good impression on the boys and he brings expertise, some new ideas and a fresh pair of eyes.

“We needed to find someone whose philosophy matches ours, and it is clear that we have found a very good fit.  He has also certainly added to our programme with some of the experience he brings from having worked at Cardiff and he offers us fresh ideas and insights which are invaluable.”

Entry for Exeter City’s under-18 match against Manchester City at St James Park on Tuesday 10th September will be just £4 for adults and £1 for under-18s, with a 7.15pm kick-off.  Click here for further details.