Demarai Gray's sweet success for Foxes is small gain to ex-club Cadbury Athletic

By dsguser
09 February 2017

Leicester winger Demarai Gray lit up the FA Cup replay win over Derby on Wednesday but the club where he first honed his skills will derive little benefit if he fires the Premier League side all the way to Wembley.

Gray scored the final goal as Leicester won 3-1 at the King Power Stadium, forcing his way into the Derby area and beating two defenders before shooting into the roof of the net to seal a win which earned a fifth round tie with Millwall.

The 20-year-old Birmingham-born player came through the ranks at Cadbury Athletic, a junior club with teams for seven to 16-year-olds whose pitches are so close to the Bourneville factory the players can sometimes smell the chocolate.

That was the memory of another famous former Cadbury Athletic player, Daniel Sturridge, who currently plies his trade for Liverpool and England.

"The pitches are right in front of the Cadbury offices and have been there since the factory was built," explained Cadbury Athletic secretary and treasurer Rob Pugh.

"I think the Cadbury directors wanted to look out on some greenery. The ties between the club and Cadbury aren't as close now as they used to be."

Sturridge has returned to help the club with its annual presentation and Gray's move to Birmingham City, the club Leicester signed him from for a reported £3.7million fee in January 2016, has also helped develop a more defined route between grass-roots football and the professional game.

Although he does not have specific memories of Gray turning out for the club's teams Pugh admits there are some benefits which come with close links to their local professional team.

"I am sure I have seen him (Gray) play for us but we have so many players who shine at that age but do not go on to play professionally," admitted Pugh.

So while Sturridge and Gray have gone on to earn relative fortunes from the game, the club where it all started for them buys all of its own equipment.

But an understanding with Birmingham means the progress made by rising stars like Corey O'Keefe, a first team squad member at the Sky Bet Championship club who also played for Cadbury Athletic, helps to reinforce a mutually beneficial arrangement.

"If they (Birmingham) do take someone and they make certain progress we do get some reward. They hold master class coaching sessions for us and we can get match tickets at reduced prices," added Pugh.

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