GRAHAM MITCHELL today left his role as Academy Manager at Huddersfield Town.
The 43-year-old has come to a mutual agreement to end his contract seven months early.
News comes just two days before the Under 18s meet Crewe Alexandra in the FA Youth Cup second round at the Galpharm (7.00).
Graham – who also made 310 appearances for the Club as a player between 1986 and 1994 – initially joined the Academy as a coach in 2000 and became full time in 2005, in charge of the Under 16 side. He also enjoyed two temporary stints as the first team’s caretaker assistant manager in 2008 before becoming only the second ever Academy Manager in February 2009, following the departure of Gerry Murphy. Since that time ‘Mitch’ has also continued as under-18 manager.
During his time in charge of the Academy, Mitchell has overseen important improvements in the scouting system and player recruitment structure as well as overhauling much of the coaching team from Under 8 to Under 18 level.
Latterly Graham has worked hard to help the Academy make the transition from the previous Storthes Hall training ground to the new and improved Canalside Sports Complex.
Crucially, during the last year, he has also put in place much of the groundwork in preparing Town’s Academy for the upcoming changes in the English Academy structure arising from the implementation of the Elite Player Performance Plan.
Town Chief Executive Nigel Clibbens commented: “Graham has made a real and long lasting contribution in driving the Academy onwards in the ‘New Era’. It is not an easy job because it can take many years for the real impact of what you do to take effect and show results.
"Taking over as only the second person to do the job was a task in itself, but ‘Mitch’ took that challenge head on. Perhaps his biggest achievement and legacy is the part he played in bringing the development of our young players closer together with the first team than ever before and his unstinting commitment in championing the development of home-grown talent at the club.
“Graham brought lots of expertise and commitment to the Academy over many years. He provided important continuity and stability when he took over and since then has worked hard to make lots of changes which will come to fruition in future years.
“Even during a period when the Club has looked to recruit players from outside, more so than ever before, it is testament to Graham that we have still seen home grown talent such as Jack Hunt and Liam Ridehalgh come through, with others set to follow.”
Chairman Dean Hoyle added: "I speak for everyone throughout the club in thanking Mitch for what he has done and all his hard work. We all wish him well for the future and I’m sure he’ll be cheering as loudly as anyone as Academy players pull on the stripes in future years.”