Ben Clark spoke of his pride ahead of Gateshead Under 19s’ cup final clash on Wednesday.
Clark’s outfit head to Worcester Warriors’ Sixways Stadium on Wednesday afternoon to battle North Leigh in the National League U19 Alliance Cup final.
The Heed’s second-string have already tasted success this season after lifting the Division One title on Friday.
“It’s been a really good year,” Clark stated.
“We’ve tried to emulate the first-team with how we go about training and preparation – it’s been a fantastic year for the football club, and our players have done great.
“We recruited well in the summer and got good lads in, to a man they’ve been absolutely brilliant.
“It’s not so much about winning the league, but we’ve tried to install a winning mentality into them.
“The main focus is developing each player, and I feel as though we’ve definitely done that.
“The lads have all won as better players – over the last year and a half, we’ve had five players play for the senior squad.
“It’s not just about them though, every single one of our lads have improved as players and young men – they’ve been a pleasure to work with.”
In anticipation of the North Leigh clash, Clark was keen to a praise an already memorable cup journey for his young side.
“The cup has been excellent to us,” he explained.
“We’ve probably had our best moments in the cup since we’ve faced teams we don’t know much about.
“We beat really big football clubs, the likes of Stockport County and Chesterfield.
“I’ve been so proud of the performances – we’ll be massively disappointed if we lose, but I’m sure the lads will enjoy the game and battle all the way.”
Ahead of a 2pm kick-off in the Midlands, Clark ended by stressing his delight at his side’s achievements this campaign.
“The main priority was to win the league,” Clark said.
“We wanted to win the league because that’s what we play in every week – the club’s not lifted it in a while.
“There were some good teams in the league – South Shields, Hartlepool United, Scarborough Athletic and Harrogate Town.
“To finish top was excellent, and the cherry on the cake was seeing lads train and play with the senior squad.
“Hopefully we can round it off with a cup – it’s a final and can go either way on the day.
“We’ve watched clips of North Leigh and they’re a brilliant side – they’re actually unbeaten.
“That’s why you play football though, to have the opportunity of winning cups.
“It is a rugby ground at Worcester, but it’s a really nice venue and we’ll do everything properly in terms of preparation.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the boys, and they deserve success because they’ve tried their best and worked ever so hard.”