The Mariners are delighted to announce that teenager Cameron Gardner has signed a three-year professional contract with the Club today on his 18th birthday.
Cameron has been with the Academy since joining when he was 16 years old and made his professional debut earlier this month in our EFL Trophy match away to Barnsley.
From Newcastle, Gardner – capable of playing in a number of attacking positions – is in his second-year as a scholar and was a near ever-present last season for the Youth Team in EFL competitions, scoring eight goals for the Mariners.
On seeing the teenager sign a professional deal with the Club, Manager Paul Hurst said: “I’m really pleased to offer Cameron a professional contract. I think we have seen the potential he has since he has come into the football club and that was there right from the off.
“He had some good spells last year having just come to the Club from grassroots and then, in pre-season training, he joined in with us for a couple of days and did really well. He played in the game at Boston, scored a really good goal and he really impressed us all then.
“Unfortunately, he picked up an injury in that game and that kind of altered his start to pre-season and the season but he has since joined in with us more. He obviously came on at Barnsley after scoring a hat-trick for the youth team and was on the bench again at Wrexham last weekend.
“We’ve got high hopes for him but there’s no pressure there. He’ll be given time to develop, hence the reason for a three-year deal, but he’s certainly a player we hope we can help progress and eventually become a first-team player with us.
“We all wish him well. He’s a good character who wants to learn and I am looking forward to working with him.
Academy Manager Neil Woods said: “I’m extremely pleased for Cameron because ultimately our role, as an Academy, is to try to get players through to this stage but you get a bond with the lads while we’re working with them so I’m really, really pleased for him.
“He’s a terrific lad beyond being just a good footballer so I’m delighted for him and his family who have always been really supportive of him.
“I’m really pleased, as well, for everybody in the Academy who has done a lot of work with him, from Callum Lester who does a lot of coaching and Dave Collins who helped recruit him.
“It’s like everything at this football club – it’s not any one individual who takes credit for things, we all play our part and hopefully Cameron can go on to achieve the things we know he can do.
Gardner himself added: “I didn’t see this coming and it came as a bit of a surprise. Paul called me into his office one day and, up until he actually said it, I had no idea that it was going to happen!
“I’m really pleased, though, and it’s an honour for it to happen so soon and I think it shows that the manager and the coaches have belief in me. I really want to fulfil and repay that.
Speaking of playing for the Mariners against Boston United in our pre-season friendly, he further said: “it was a great experience and it was the first time I was introduced into men’s football. It was brilliant, I was very pleased with my performance and I think it was a good experience to have played with the senior players.
Touching on the subject of making his professional debut against Barnsley, Gardner revealed that he only found out the day before. “I was told on the Monday that I was training with the first team and then travelling with them. It was quite last minute when I was told but I was really delighted to be there and achieve that.
“The first team players have been great and have really helped me settle in. I thought it would be quite hard at first to do that because there’s all sorts of ages in the squad and I’m the new one, the young one that’s coming in but they’ve really welcomed me. They’re trying to help me in training which I really appreciate.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to the coaches in the Academy. They’ve really helped me coming through since coming in for my first year and they’ve helped me improve, told me what I need to do and I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me.”
After seeing the second-year scholar sign terms with the Club, CEO Debbie Cook said: “I remember seeing Cameron play against Boston on that rainy night in the summer and coming away thinking that he looked like a young man determined to take his chance while wearing the Mariners shirt.
“He really impressed me that night and I think he had the same sort of impact on the coaching staff and supporters so I’m delighted that we have seen him sign his first professional contract with Town.
“It’s really important to us, as a board and as a Club, that we value the Academy and the work the coaches do there with our young people and it’s absolutely fantastic that we have been able to add another of their products to Paul’s first-team squad for the next three years.”
Everyone at the Mariners is delighted to see Cameron sign his first professional contract with the Club and wishes him well!
Are you interested in becoming Gardner’s player sponsor? If so, please contact our Commercial Manager Matthew Disley by emailing email@example.com.