NICKY Eaden is enjoying working at Oakwell again with the table-topping Barnsley under 18s and is also opening a family business in the town.
Eaden’s Bar is due to open on Friday, November 11 in the building on Graham’s Orchard which used to be Temple of Muses and, previously, Browns Bar.
But Eaden has a different Friday evening event to focus on tonight when his under 18s team host Spennymoor Town from 7pm on the first team pitch in the first round of the FA Youth Cup.
It coincides with the latest ‘social’ event at Oakwell which will see music acts as well as food and drink stalls at the club today from 5-11pm then tomorrow from midday until 11pm.
On the game, Eaden said: “It’s a different challenge. There will be hundreds of fans there, on a big pitch under the lights. The aim for the lads eventually is to play in front of 10,000 in the first team so they have to handle it. We’re normally the underdogs against so-called bigger academies from so-called bigger clubs. But now Spennymoor will be the underdogs.
“The lads want to put on a good performance and go on a run.
“I remember some youth cup runs we went on when I was playing and they are great occasions.”
One player Eaden may be without is striker Fabio Jalo, 16, who has been playing for the under 18s and under 21s but has come off the bench in the last three first team games.
Eaden said: “Fab is training with the first team regularly. He has natural raw talent for getting goals.
“He’s a bit unpredictable and off the cuff. The tendency is to overcoach players and you take that edge away from him. Whenever I have had him, I just tell him to do what he wants.
“I won’t get on at him for trying things that don’t come off.
“Sometimes you need that unpredictability to unlock defences.
“He just loves playing football.
“There are a lot of them out there who you wonder if they enjoy it or they just play because they are good at it. But he has a real love of the game which is good to see.”
Another under 18s player who made his first team debut recently is Josiah Dyer, the son of Eaden’s former Barnsley team-mate Bruce Dyer.
Eaden said: “They have some similarities but they are different in other ways. Josiah is something different, he’s a bit of throwback to the old number nine which is probably a plus for him because there are not many of them about.
“He has some way to go in terms of consistency but he has tools to work with. He has the right attitude after growing up in a footballing environment and he’s had a good upbringing with Bruce.”
The under 18s drew 0-0 at home to Sheffield Wednesday last Friday.
They are top of the league on goal difference, having played a game fewer than the sides immediately below them.
“We have got quite a lot of attack-minded players.
“We have scored a lot of goals.
“We have only kept two clean sheets which we want to improve.
“It’s about getting players into first team football but, if you win games along the way, it definitely helps.”
Eaden moved back to Barnsley this summer to work at Oakwell, and now has another connection to his hometown with the new bar.
“It will be something different because all I have ever known is football. I needed a back-up and I had been looking to set up a family businesses for a while. My daughter is going to run it but I will be in there pretty much every day helping out.
“I used to drink in there when I was a player in the ‘90s.
“I thought the name might sound a bit arrogant but people have told me, if your name carries a little bit of weight, you have to use it. I am just enjoying being back in my hometown with my job at Oakwell and now this.”