If there was one positive to take from a dismal season, then the performances the young players Chester FC produced was surely that.
From James Jones winning a call-up for England C, Matty Waters scoring a sublime goal against Gateshead, to Nathan Brown breaking into the first-team fold and scoring the goal of the season in the last-gasp win over Bromley, the young guns did the Blues proud.
The club’s successful Academy was highlighted with the 3-0 win over Halifax at the Banks’s Stadium in Walsall to be crowned National League Alliance Under-19 Cup champions, as well as the transfer of Sam Hughes to 2015/16 Premier League champions Leicester City.
His rise through the club’s youth set-up saw him end the season as the top scorer in the under-23 side and was rewarded with being named on the bench for the Foxes’ Premier League games against West Ham United at the King Power Stadium and against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
The Blacon teenager played 17 times and scored once for the Blues last season after only penning a professional deal at the Swansway Chester Stadium last summer.
With the youngster making the move to the Football League, we thought we’d ask our fans’ jury for their views on the youngster and his future.
“How impressed were you by Tom Crawford in a Chester FC shirt and how far do you think he can go in the game?”
Here’s what they had to say...
Matt Nickson “The biggest accolade I think that I can give him is that he never looked out of place in that squad in any game. This shows how adaptable he was and also that he has the class as this can often set players ahead of their peers.”
“I would like to think that I’ve got a good eye to spot a player. You could see from when Tom first put on his shirt that he was going to be an excellent player.
“His distribution was spot on and very rarely gave the ball away. At first he was a bit lightweight for the National League but he soon realised this and started getting stronger.
“This allowed him to be more competitive in the centre of midfield as at first teams were targeting him and he came through with a fair few scrapes in the early matches.
“The biggest accolade I think that I can give him is that he never looked out of place in that squad in any game. This shows how adaptable he was and also that he has the class as this can often set players ahead of their peers.
“Good luck to him in his future career and what a club to go to. Historic club, large fan base, cracking ground.
“Also his new gaffer will be Kevin Nolan, what a mentor to look up to when you’re a young centre midfielder. I’m sure he’ll go on to great things.
“Although a season back on loan at his home town club would also be of benefit!”
Kieron Shiel “There is no doubt Tom has qualities in most areas required to be a good solid professional Football League player, but more importantly he appears to have the mentality to go with it.”
“Tom was impressive for us and showed maturity and composure beyond his years.
“When playing alongside Gary Roberts he looked even more impressive as he was coached through the game by a very experienced partner who I’m hoping will be our captain next year.
“Just how impressive Tom was in a team of largely less unimpressive players is hard to gauge. He was certainly better than his competitors in his space, Turnbull, James, Dawson et al.
“There is no doubt Tom has qualities in most areas required to be a good solid professional Football League player, but more importantly he appears to have the mentality to go with it.
“Just how far he can go remains to be seen, let’s hope he keeps his feet on the ground and continues to improve at the rate he has.
“All the very best to him and let’s have more of these products coming through, so far so good.”
Rio Doherty “With Tom still being in his teens, I think that he can go on to have a really successful career at the top level if he keeps on improving. This is a good deal on the financial side as well.”
“Tom Crawford more than deserves his move to Notts County. I was delighted for him when I heard the news this week as he really grew into a key player for us last season.
“Obviously he graduated from our Academy last summer, along with James Jones and Nathan Brown, who have also got lots of talent.
“The environment both on and off the pitch was really tough last season. As a supporter I found the majority of last season’s matches hard to endure.
“However, with the likes of Tom Crawford given the chance to play in the second half of the season along with some other youngsters, that lifted up our fan bases’ spirits up.
“I was overwhelmed with how Crawford coped so well in a tough environment. He put in some excellent displays, although we had little chance of staying up.
“It’s obvious that he fought for the shirt which put a lot of the squad to shame. I believe Everton and West Brom were keeping tabs on him which is testament for his hard work.
“Still though, I think Notts County is a great move for the lad. With them being a smaller club than Everton, he has a better chance of breaking into the first team as he may have been forced to play in the development squad at Everton.
“With Tom still being in his teens, I think that he can go on to have a really successful career at the top level if he keeps on improving. This is a good deal on the financial side as well.
“We will receive a fee for this which is important as money is vital for our football club.
“Also, our Academy deserves huge credit for this as well. Calum McIntyre has developed Tom extremely well along with the youth coaches who all deserve credit for their top work.
“With our Academy thriving by the day, there are a number of players who can go on to have a successful career.
“The likes of Iwan Murray, Cain Noble and Lloyd Marsh-Hughes have impressed and could be our next crop to be given the chance to perform in our first team.
“Tom Crawford’s move to Notts County is richly deserved, and I wish him all the very best for his career.
“For a local teenager from Blacon to pull off a move to a Football League club is really impressive. Thanks for everything you have done at Chester FC Tom, and good luck!”