The latest in our A to Z series is the letter ‘O’ which is for…
Winger Mani Ogunrinde joined the club in 2017 as one of the first cohort welcomed into Academy 92, and in his two years with us he made some significant contributions.
It was only August when he became the first Academy player to feature for the first team in a competitive match, coming on away at AFC Telford United in the third game of the season.
He was used during pre-season as Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley sounded out what they had, and subsequently he was included amongst the substitutes for our first two games of the 2017-18 season.
Mani’s debut came in the next game though, away at the New Bucks Head when he replaced Anthony Dudley after 85 minutes. Although there was little for him to contribute in the time that remained, it was a moment that will be recorded in the history books, and a mention too for Anointed Chukwu who was introduced on 88 minutes to become the second player to feature.
The youngster also made appearances in the Manchester Premier Cup, and came on away at Leamington on the final day of the season alongside Alex Doyle. Last season he featured two further times, once each in the MPC and FA Trophy.
Meanwhile with the Academy, Mani was instrumental in our FA Youth Cup run of 2017-18, scoring both goals against Warrington Town in the Second Qualifying Round and the winner against York City in the Third Qualifying Round. He also earned a place in the England Schoolboys Under-18s squad with Doyle, travelling to Valencia with the squad before earning four caps in their games against the Home Nations.
In our title winning NW Under-21 Development League season last year, Mani was second top scorer with 19 goals from 18 appearances. Although he wasn’t given a contract at the end of his scholarship, Mani returned to his native Essex and re-joined Grays Athletic for 2019-20.
Since its inception in 2017, we have had 14 Academy players play for the first team. All of them have played in cup competitions, while four of them have also played in a league match; Chukwu, Doyle, Kamar Moncrieffe and Ogunrinde. Doyle became the first player from the academy to play in the Football League when he came on and put in a man of the match performance against Cheltenham Town in September 2019.
The other players to have featured in the first team are Sam Wright, Joel Barlow, Markell Foulds, Dan Edwards, Zack Woodcock, Taylor Dyson, Brandon Lockett, Will Shepherd and Douglas James-Taylor.