Ryley impresses on Bristol City debut
A FOOTBALLER who once led an undefeated Mangotsfield School team to nine trophies has made his professional debut for Bristol City.
Ryley Towler was named man of the match in City's narrow FA Cup 5th round defeat to Premier League side Sheffield United.
The 18-year-old Bristol City Academy graduate, who played the full 90 minutes at left-back at Bramall Lane, said his mum had cried when she heard that he was going to play.
Ryley told City's Robins TV channel: "I’m buzzing to make my debut as a Bristol boy, so to make my debut for my boyhood club is a dream come true.
"Everyone was watching. I told my parents on the way that I was starting and they couldn’t believe it."
Ryley has been with City since the age of seven and said his arrival in the first team showed there was "a clear pathway" for academy players to make their mark at Ashton Gate.
Despite the Robins losing the match to a highly controversial penalty, awarded following a VAR review, Ryley was the highest-rated player on either side in the BBC's report, and the TV commentators said his school should be proud of him.
School head of PE Tristan Hawkins said: "Mangotsfield PE department and staff are incredibly proud of Ryley making his professional debut at the age of 18; he is an example of what you can achieve with hard work and dedication.
"He grew in confidence as the game developed, he was strong on the ball and made some key clearances in the first half.
"We are positive this is just the start of a bright future for Mr Towler, and we will be supporting him and watching him every step of the way."
Another Mangotsfield School footballer is moving towards the professional game: Year 11 pupil Curtis Dunn has signed a two-year academy contract with Forest Green Rovers.
Mr Hawkins said: "Curtis is a multi-talented sportsman who has represented Mangotsfield School for cross country and athletics and is currently captain of the Year 11 football team. He has a promising future in football and we wish him the best of luck with his exciting opportunity."
Curtis said: "It took a lot of effort and there were lots of obstacles in the way but hard work and dedication paid off and got me there – I still can’t believe it’s happened."