THREE former Darlington managers put young footballers through their paces during a coaching session at the Martin Gray Football Academy (MGFA) on Monday.

David Hodgson, who was Quakers’ boss three times, Gary Bennett, manager in 2000-01, and Gray, who led the club to three promotions in four seasons, coached 25 of the teenagers who are part of Gray’s football academy at Eastbourne Sports Complex in Darlington.

Hodgson was a striker in his playing days, playing for Middlesbrough and Liverpool among others, and he kept an eye on the forwards, Bennett focused on defending while Gray looked after the midfielders.

The trio, all of whom enjoyed long playing careers, put on what Gray called a masterclass for the most talented of his players in his academy.

The MGFA began a decade ago and 60 players are now studying at Darlington College, of which nine represent an under-18s county team.

Playing for Durham are Steven Johnson, Mason Hurworth, Oscar Aldsworth, Charlie Lamb and Ben Reay, in the North Yorkshire squad is Gus Glass, Callum Wilson and Tafari Nicholas while called up for the North Riding team is Liam Waters.

“We feel we’re attracting the best kids in the area, from south Durham, Teesside and North Yorkshire all coming to Darlington College,” said Gray, who also has players in his academy who have been selected for England schools trials.

On the evening of Wednesday, October 23 the MGFA will be hosting an open evening for potential students and parents to find out more about their Sport Level 2 and 3 Btec courses and to view the facilities.

The open evening runs 5.30pm-7.30pm at the college, while there will be a practical football session 8-9pm at Eastbourne Sports Complex.

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