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Thread: Kids and Grown Ups Love Him So........

  1. #1
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    Kids and Grown Ups Love Him So........

    A Championship Manager story based around the player not the club, follow the exploits of our hero on a career in professional football.

    Based on Feb 11 database with Tapani 2.19.

    I've done limited testing on it so I have no idea what will happen.
    It'll be a fun ride hopefully!!


  2. #2
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    Harry Bow's Career Achievements and Stats

    Colchester United July 2010 - January 2018

    285 games, 135 goals.

    Juventus January 2018 - July 2022

    207 games, 135 goals.

    Real Madrid July 2022 - January 2024

    81 games, 55 goals.

    Chelsea January 2024 - February 2026

    93 games, 56 goals

    Liverpool February 2026 -

    *signs first professional contract aged 15.
    *first selected in 1st Team squad. 28/08/2010 (unused sub).
    *debut - 16/10/10 as sub vs Hartlepool United (h). English Second Division.
    *first goal - 9/3/11 as sub vs Bournemouth (a). English Second Division.
    *first start - 9/4/11 vs Rochdale (h). English Second Division.
    *first hat trick - 14/1/12 vs West Brom (h). English First Division.
    *Premier League debut - 18/8/12 vs Portsmouth (h). English Premier League.
    *first Premier League goal - 22/8/12 vs Leeds (a). English Premier League.
    *U21 debut - 22/3/13 vs Macedonia (a). U21 International
    *first U21 goal - 22/3/13 vs Macedonia (a). U21 International
    *England debut - 22/4/15 vs Portugal (a).
    *first England goal - 12/6/16 vs Italy (n) Euro 2016.
    *first captains England - 26/4/23 vs Portugal (a) Friendly


    2011 - Second Division Winner
    2012 - First Division Playoff Winner
    2012 - Supporters Player of the Year 2011/12
    2012 - Premier League Young Player of the Month for November.
    2013 - Premier League Young Player of the Month for April.
    2013 - Premier League Young Player of the Month for May.
    2013 - Supporters Player of the Year 2012/13
    2013 - Premier League Young Player of the Month for November.
    2014 - Premier League Young Player of the Month for March.
    2014 - Supporters Player of the Year 2013/14
    2014 - Premier League Young Player of the Month for November.
    2015 - 2014/15 English Players Young Player of the Year.
    2015 - Premier League Young Player of the Month for April.
    2015 - Supporters Player of the Year.
    2015 - Premier League Young Player of the Month for August.
    2016 - Supporters Player of the Year.
    2017 - Supporters Player of the Year.


    2018 - UEFA Cup Winner
    2018 - European Super Cup
    2019 - Serie A Team of the Year
    2019 - Supporters Player of the Year
    2019/20 - Serie A Team of the Year
    2020 - Supporters Player of the Year
    2020 - Italian Super Cup
    2021 - European Cup Winner
    2021 - Serie A Player of the Year
    2021 - Serie A Top Scorer
    2021 - Serie A Foreign Player of the Year
    2021 - Serie A Team of the Year
    2021 - Supporters Player of the Year
    2021 - World Footballer of the Year
    2022 - Serie A Top Scorer
    2022 - Serie A Foreign Player of the Year
    2022 - Supporters Player of the Year

    Real Madrid

    2023 - World Player of the Year
    2023 - World Footballer of the Year
    2023 - European Footballer of the Year
    2023 - European Striker of the Year
    2023 - Spanish League Top Scorer
    2023 - Supporters Player of the Year
    2023 - Spanish Super Cup


    2024 - World Footballer of the Year runner up
    2025 - World Footballer of the Year
    2025 - Supporters Player of the Year


    2026 - English Premier League Winner
    2026 - World Player of the Year
    2026 - World Footballer of the Year
    2026 - English Charity Shield
    2027 - English Premier League runner up
    2027 - World Footballer of the Year
    2027 - Supporters Player of the Year

    2015 - first cap v Portugal
    2016 - first goal v Italy
    2020 - European Championship Winner
    2023 - Confederations Cup Winner
    2024 - European Championship Winner
    2024 - European Championship Golden Boot
    2025 - Confederations Cup third place


    1st August 2025 - Married Elle
    13th August 2025 - First Child (Wayne) born.
    Last edited by ebfatz; 09-07-19 at 03:18 PM.

  3. #3
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    3rd person narritive, different. That alone intrigues me
    Can't wait for what's instore for Harry Bow.
    Nice start ebfatz, reads very nicely with a different feel to other stories already out there, I'm intrigued...
    Harry Bow
    Like this already
    Hope he doesn't get too highly strung.
    Loving this story so far, mate.
    I'm loving this...
    Looking forward for the next chapter.
    Great reading. Looking good for Harry Bow's future.
    Amazing stuff dude, keep it up!
    more more more!
    great write up ebfatz
    enjoying this tale
    Make sure you save this in a word-file as you go along, you should definitely send this to publishing houses once you're done - yes, it's that good.
    Just caught back up with this. I'm loving it!
    Great stuff mate, Harry is a character I really want to see succeed in football!
    Refreshingly different
    Take a Bow Harry!
    Just read all of this, terrific story so far... Keep it going mate!!!

    Brilliant stuff
    Last edited by ebfatz; 20-03-12 at 10:36 AM.

  4. #4
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    "Mum!! Come on! We need to go! It's a long drive"

    "Alright! Keep your hair on I'm just finishing my make up and then I'm ready to go!
    Don't see why your Dad can't be doing this for you anyway?"

    "Mum. He broke his arm two weeks ago! How would he drive me there?!
    Look at least it's not raining or something. And the sun's gonna be out later."

    It's 5:45 on a Saturday morning and two members of the family are up and about to leave for a football trial in St Albans. The trial will be attended by numerous professional clubs and scouts from clubs around Europe.
    The two of them jump in the car.

    "Got everything?"
    "I got it all Mum! Boots, shinnies, socks and application form. I got it all! They're providing the rest."

    The boy is just a normal boy. Just like any other kid that you'll find anywhere up and down the country.
    A schoolkid with regular grades. Going out at the weekend. He's not the one who gets himself absolutely hammered every weekend though. The reason?
    Again like many teenagers he has a dream. That dream is to become a professional footballer. And nothing was going to stand in the way of him making his dream a reality.
    It wasn't easy though. Today's trial is the 9th in his young life. Some went well some not so well. One trial he was played in an unfamiliar right back role as too many players turned up looking to play in his more usual centre forward role.

    He was always a pretty versatile player at schools level and Sunday League but this was a different level.
    Needless to say it didn't go well!

    By 9am they had arrived at the ground. The boy was nervous. He was always a little nervous before a trial but this time he had a feeling. A feeling things were going to go his way.
    They made their way through reception and parted on their ways. The boy making his way to the changing rooms, his Mum up to the stands to watch and cheer on her oldest son in action.
    The boy changed and was thrown a blue shirt and sent into a different changing room.
    There he was told that his team would be lining up in a 4-3-3 formation dropping to a 4-5-1 when they lost the ball.
    The boys confidence instantly rose. That was the setup they played with his Sunday side so he knew how to play it. The only difference today was that he was playing on the right side of the forward three whereas he usually played in the middle. He'd have to do a bit of tracking back today.

    He got changed and went out to the pitch to warm up.
    The butterflies had started but he surpressed them pretty well.
    Soon everyone was out there along with the ref and his assistants. And the game kicked off.
    He didn't get his first chance until around 15 minutes in when he picked up the ball around 35 yards out went on a little run and exchanged a neat one two with his forward partner. Without thinking and without taking a touch he smashed an effort from the edge of the area with the outside of his right foot.
    The ball curled arching away from the keeper but hit the outside of the post and went out for a goal kick.

    When the boy was young he was told by his coach 'as long as you do your job properly it's not your fault when it goes wrong.'

    He went about making sure he did just that.
    Receiving passes popping off short passes to start attacks dropping off to receive the ball and slipping his teammates in with clever through balls. He even cleared on off the line whilst defending a corer late in the game.

    The ninety minutes came and went in a flash and he came off happy with his display.
    He didn't score but he was on the assist chart twice for his team in a 2-1 win.
    Back in the changing room he surveyed the scene. Some players were buoyant thinking they were in. Some held their head in their hands knowing that they had played badly and their chance was slipping away.
    After changing the players were called into the club conference room and thanked for coming. They were informed that two lists would be posted up. Successful and Not successful.
    Those on the Not Successful would be free to go home whilst those on the Successful list would be asked to stay a little longer.

    Some players bolted for the sheets when the time came. But the boy hung back for a while and waited for some of the bodies to clear. And then he went up.

    He studies the sheets to find his name.
    After twenty or so seconds he finds his name.

    Not Successful - Harry Bow.

  5. #5
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    It was a quiet journey home.
    Very quiet indeed.
    Harry Bow was devastated. He really thought that this one was THE ONE.

    About an hour into the journey home he spoke for the only time.
    "What more could I have done?"
    His mum looked at him and shrugged. "I don't know Harry. I really don't know. I haven't seen you play as well as that in a long time."

    They made it home and Harry went straight upstairs.
    His Mum went in to the front room where his father was sitting on the sofa with his leg elevated. He could see by his wife's face that it hadn't gone well.

    "He's taken it pretty bad this time." said Mrs Bow
    "Oh." said her husband. "I'll give him a while and then I'll go up and see him."

    Earlier it had been mentioned that Harry Bow was just like any other teenager. This was true apart from the fact that when he was 13 years old after the 4th failed trial of his fledgling career he decided that he was going to get into professional football one way or another. So he decided to start taking his coaching badges.

    Now on the coaching side he was now the proud owner of an FA Level 2 certificate but he was also a person who had failed to be picked up after 9 unsuccessful playing trials.

    "What am I going to do Dad?" Harry asked when his father managed to get himself up the stairs and into his room to talk to him. "All I want to do is play football.Should I quit?"

    "Quit? Quit? Never let me hear anything like that come out of your mouth ever again! Never! Listen to me. It's coming. Sometime soon you are going to catch a break."

  6. #6
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    Harry struggled with his thoughts for a number of weeks after that trial.
    What would he do?
    He tried to concentrate on his Year 10 exams but his mind just wasn't in them.
    He spent two hours in a Science exam thinking about what he had done wrong in that trial.
    What if he had scored his big chance?
    What if he had been a little more selfish with the ball. Would he have stood out more?
    What if he had been playing as the central striker. Would things have been different?

    Sometimes he would forget about it for a couple of hours and try to move on but the thoughts just kept coming back.

    June arrived and that meant World Cup 2010!
    He watched every game. He even raised a smile during the group stages when the Korean Republic were decimated 7-0 by Portugal! How can anyone reach a World tournament and then get beaten by that much was beyond him.
    He did not however laugh so much at England's display. A poor draw against the US an even poorer draw against Algeria and then scraping a win against Slovenia.
    And we all know what happened in the next round!
    He watched every game through to the final and Spain's triumph.

    He now had what he thought would be a break from football. He could take his mind off it. Until the new domestic season started anyway.

    That was until the phone rang on the Wednesday after the Final.

    "Hello. Can I speak to Harry Bow please?" said the mystery voice.
    "Er. Speaking." came the reply.
    "Hello. Sorry to trouble you but I have had so much trouble trying to locate you!" said the voice.
    "Erm. Alright." said a clearly confused Harry.
    "And may I ask who you are and why you are calling me?"
    "Of course. My name is Rob Painter. I saw you play at the trials day at St Albans a month or so ago. I've been trying to get hold of you since the end of the season. But the organisers were firstly a little coy about giving out any information and then secondly you didn't really put a lot of information on your form. It's taken us this long just to find you."
    "Who. Who's us? Who do you work for Mr Painter?"
    "I'm so sorry. Let me explain. I'm a scout. In fact I'm Chief Scout for Colchester United Football Club. We saw you at the trial day and were impressed by you. We didn't have the finances in place at the time just due to it being the back end of the season and the end of the financial year.
    Now though with the season ended and a couple of players leaving us we have more available and we'd like to speak to you to see if you would be interested in joining the club."

    "Wow. That's the last thing I expected in a phone call. Especially so long after the trial."
    "I know. I'm sorry. But like I said. Fill in forms better and this call could have happened about 3 weeks ago."
    "Ok ok. Sorry. So what's going to happen now?" said Harry.
    "Well. We would like you to meet us at Cuckoo Farm on Saturday and the we can dis..."
    "Whoa whoa whoa whoa." interrupted Harry.
    "What in God's name is Cuckoo Farm? You want me to meet you at a farm? Is this normal?"
    "Ha ha!" laughed Painter.
    "I'm so sorry. No it's not a farm. Cuckoo Farm is the affectionate name for Colchester's ground. It's more generally known as the Colchester Community Stadium and under a sponsorship deal the Weston Homes Community Stadium.
    Anyway as I was saying. Can you make Saturday? 12 noon. Just come into the main reception and ask for me. Ok?"
    "Ok." Harry stuttered as his reply
    "I-I'll see you there."

    For the next four days Harry's head was spinning. What was going to happen? Should he just accept any offer they give to him and sign? Should he haggle? Questions upon questions filled his head until he woke on Saturday morning.

  7. #7
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    Saturday 10th July 2010 was about to become a momentous day in the life of Harry Bow.

    The day began very early as both Harry and both his parents left from their Kent home for the journey to Essex. They dropped off Harry's little brother with friends and set off on the journey up.

    They decided to leave early to make sure they didn't hit any traffic. Harry's father jumped into the driver's seat his wife getting in beside him.
    Harry got in to his usual position in the back behind his mother. He always sat there because from there he could see the feet of the person driving and how to use the gear stick. It had given him a pretty good understanding of the way a car works and how to go about driving a car.

    "Got the money for the toll tunnel Dad?" said Harry.
    "Got it son." was the reply.

    They set off and within half an hour they had arrived at and gone through the Dartford Toll Tunnel.
    Harry's father struck up conversation.

    "Ready for this then son. It's pretty big!"
    "I'm ready Dad. I'm excited and haven't got a clue what to expect and what's gonna happen but I'm looking forward to it."
    "What do you want to do when we get there? One if us will have to go in with you but do you want me or your Mum?"
    "I want you both to come in with me. I can't go in without either of you. I'll need both your opinions in there."
    "Do you want to do all the talking yourself or do you want us to negotiate for you?"
    "I think I want to do it myself. If this is really going to happen and I can't believe it is but if it is I'll be stepping out into the big wide world and I'm gonna have to start doing things for myself."
    "How much you going to ask for son?" chipped in his mum.
    "Don't want to blow it at this stage!"
    "I think I'll take whatever they offer me Mum. Is that mad?! I don't know when an opportunity like this will come along again. I'll take 100 a week if that's what they offer."
    "Fair enough." said his Dad "We'll be right behind you whatever choice you make."

    After battling through a bit of traffic on the A12 they arrived on the outskirts of Colchester at around 11am. They exited the A12 at junction 28 and very soon it came in to view. The Weston Homes Community Stadium.

    People were already milling around happily outside the ground as the club was hosting a community day at the ground on the day. Harry was happy with his initial first impression of the ground and a feeling came across him that he would be very happy in the town.
    He just had to get the hard bit out of the way and impress the powers that be at the club.

  8. #8
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    As they had arrived a little early and there were no shops around the ground, the family decided to have a walk around the outside of the stadium.
    Harry had done a bit of research on the club in the days leading up to going.

    Straight away they could tell it was a stadium that was little more than 2 years old. Everything looked so clean, new.

    Despite being quite a small stadium, it was still quite an imposing sight as there was little else around the surrounding areas.
    The site had many parking spaces for fans and Harry was intrigued to see two synthetic surface football pitches located next to the stadium. Harry didn't think that clubs in League One would have training facilities like that. Harry was a little peturbed when this guy rounded the corner though.

    Harry knew that the stadium held just over 10000 fans and like all league stadiums of the era the ground was all seater. There was expansion potential though.

    Harry felt tinglings in his body. His mind raced ahead to days where he could be actually playing in the stadium watched by many fans of the club.
    He gave himself a swift slap in the face. This was no time to be daydreaming about what might be. He knew he had work to do. If he didn't impress in the meeting it would never happen so he needed to concentrate on the fast approaching meeting with the Colchester United management.

    As time ticked around to 11:45 they reached the front of the stadium and the main reception. This was it. And in they all walked in through the double doors.

    "Hello." began Harry as he approached the desk.
    "I have a 12 noon meeting with Mr Painter."

    "Ok" said the receptionist scanning her appointment book.

    "Take a seat and Mr Painter will be right along."

    No sooner had Harry settled his bum into his seat then he was standing again as Painter emerged from a side door.

    "Harry!" he said cheerily. "Punctual I see. Is that down to you or down to your parents?!"

    Harry giggled coyly.

    "Welcome to Colchester." continued Painter "and more importantly Welcome to Colchester United. Come on through."
    Painter shook Harry's hand and then his parent's hands also and he guided them through some doors. Above the door the sign stated Conference Room.
    They walked along a corridor and then through another set of doors and then up a set of stairs.
    Small talk was made.
    "How was your journey? Where is it you've come from today?"
    "It wasn't bad at all thanks." said Harry's dad. "Up from Kent. Couple of hours journey but not too bad."
    "Glad to hear it. Well I don't think we'll be keeping you too long hopefully. Just a bit of a chat with you all and to meet a few people. Hopefully one of those people will be on the other side of this door. Ready Harry?"
    Harry took a deep breath in and nodded. "I'm ready."

  9. #9
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    Painter pushed the door open and showed the family in.
    Waiting on the other side was two men.

    "Welcome Harry. Come on in." the first man said holding out his hand to shake Harry's.
    The second man stood and also held out his hand to Harry as he approached him.
    Once the formalities were out of the way, the three members of the Bow family sat on one side of the vast table and Rob Painter and the other two men sat on the other.

    The man who had sat himself in the middle spoke first.

    "Well Harry. Welcome to Colchester United Football Club. Welcome to your family also. And hopefully welcome to the beginning of the rest of your life. My name is Robbie Cowling and I'm the chairman of the club.

    To my left is someone you'll hopefully get to know quite well. John Ward who is the manager of the club.

    And of course you already know Rob Painter who is chief scout at the club."

    "It's a pleasure to finally meet you Harry." said Ward
    "I've heard so much about you from Rob over the last couple of months. He really is stacking his reputation on you and I hope he is proved right."

    This statement didn't help Harry's nerves in any way shape or form. He ran his sweaty hands down his thighs and wiped his brow. He looked up and smiled at Ward. Ward smiled back which settled him a little but then the chairman spoke again and the nerves returned.

    "As John has said, Rob has put a lot of faith in you Harry and we back him completely. This is going to be a different kind of negotiation to a normal one for us as we have already made our decision. It's just a matter of agreeing a financial package with you and your family."

    Instantly Harry's nerves disappeared and his mood rose. He thought back to the conversation he had had with his parents in the previous week. Would he just accept the first offer given to him or would he haggle?

    Cowling continued. "There won't even be a medical for you today. That will happen in due course but today myself and John have decided categorically that we will sign you. Congratulations! Once you sign a little piece of paper you will become a professional football player. How does that feel?"

    "Wwwwow! Just Wow! T-hank you. I'm speechless!" stammered Harry.

    His dad threw an arm round his son and pulled him in tightly for a hug. "Well done Son." he said.
    The three on the management team even burst into a short spontaneous round of applause as they could see how much it meant to him.

    Harry's dad then stood and shook the hand of the chairman before sitting down ruffling his son's hair.

    "So." said Cowling. "Let's talk money shall we?"
    "OK!" said Harry the nerves returning a little.
    "Right, obviously like most clubs we have a wage structure in place and there's only so much we can offer you. Also as I'm sure you will be aware we are only a League 1 club. At the moment anyway!! As such the wages are not that high.
    Anyway enough beating about the bush. I would like to offer you a four year contract with a weekly wage of 650. How does that sound?"

    Harry's eyes widened. He was expecting an offer of around 100 so to have that offer was amazing. He felt a confidence grow inside him.
    He looked at his Mum and Dad and then his mouth took over without him knowing exactly what was happening.

    "That is a wonderful offer but I don't know if you are aware but I've already done my coaching badges..."

    His Mum looked at him in shock. What was he doing?

    "Well because of that and obviously not knowing what will happen in the future I would like to add in a managerial release clause to the contract."

    It was now his Dad's turn to look at him in disbelief. Was Harry going to blow it?

    Cowling and Ward looked at each other. After a while Ward nodded and Cowling spoke again.

    "Interesting. I like that Harry. Very confident of you. Not what I expected from you I must say. We were aware of your coaching prowess but didn't think you would want to pursue that at this stage. In light of that, we can insert the manager clause but we would then take down your playing wage to let's say 475 a week?
    We can also offer a goal bonus of 45 a goal and an assist bonus of 45 also.
    Do we have a deal?"

    Again Harry looked at both of his parents and without hesitation said:

    "I'd be happy to accept!"

    And there it was. Deal done. Harry Bow was a Colchester United player signed to the club until the end of the 2013/14 season.

  10. #10
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    Harry would need to return to the club in a weeks time.
    To be decided were where Harry would live.
    He was given a choice by the chairman. Live with a seasoned pro at the club or move into a house with other young players at the club.
    The decision was to be made when Harry returned.
    There would also need to be a decision made about the rest of Harry's schooling. He was due to be entering his final year of school Year 11 and his GCSE exams.

    When the subject came up at home a couple of days later back at home Harry said
    "Dad. I can finish going to school. I'm confident about this. I'm gonna make it. I'm gonna hit the big time from this opportunity."
    "It doesn't matter if you do son." replied his Dad "You still need your education."
    "But I've got the coaching as well."
    "Doesn't matter. Education is the basis of any person's life. Granted, you've done more than your fair share in your life with the badges but you still need to complete these. Come on. It's only one more year and then you're done."
    "OK Dad. I'll get it done."

    Harry made the second choice by himself. He chose to live with two other young members of the squad. He felt it would be beneficial to live with a wise head in the squad but felt he would be able to let his hair down a bit more if he lived with people of his own age.

    He spent the week packing, thinking of things that he would need to take and things that would be fine left at home with his parents.
    After a few days he had three suitcases full of clothes and three cardboard boxes of stuff as well.
    Friday came round and his parents took him out for dinner in the evening as a goodbye. He really enjoyed his final week at home and by the time Friday came round, he was apprehensive on what would happen when he arrived back in Colchester.

    He would soon find out!

    For the second Saturday running, the Bow family were up early and readying themselves for a trip to Essex. Again Harry's little brother was dropped off, this time with grandparents and off they went. Suitcases were packed in the boot, the boxes sat on the seat next to Harry in the back of the car. The sun was shining and all three of the travelling Bow family were looking forward to the trip and what the day would bring.

    They arrived at 9:30 and were whisked straight through reception and into a conference room where the chairman and manager were seated.

    "Morning Harry. Glad you made it safely. Busy day ahead." said Cowling.
    "It will be indeed." said the manager John Ward.
    "First you'll have to have a quick medical. Then you'll be meeting you're new teammates. And you'll be meeting them on the pitch! It's our first pre season session on the stadium pitch today. After that we'll be sending you and your family out with a club rep and you'll be seeing your new home."

    "That is a busy day!" said Harry.
    The chairman spoke again. "Ok Harry. Time for you to go off with Mr Ward down to see the physios for your medical. I'll stay here and run through a few things with your parents. We'll see you soon."

    Cowling sat down to discuss schooling with Harry's parents.
    "We have a decision to make Mr and Mrs Bow. We understand this is a vital time for Harry in his school life and want him to continue that journey.
    As such, we have two proposals for you. We can either enrol him into a school full time, so essentially he will run the first year of his contract in school or we can school him here at the club. It won't be full time but I can assure you he will get enough schooling. He will still be training football wise with the squad but when he's not he'll be in the classroom.
    I know which one I would choose but of course the choice is yours."

    Harry's Mum and Dad thought for a while and then his father replied.
    "We had a discussion about this during the week and we hoped there would be a proposition like this. Harry is a hard working boy, you'll find that out on the training ground but he also works hard on his studies. I can tell you now as well working hard on the pitch and on his studies he will also want to continue work on his badges as well so without a shadow of a doubt we and Harry would go with your second offer. He wouldn't want to miss out with a year with the squad."

    "Ok. Decided. I'll have him signed up today. There's a couple of other squad players in there as well and we also sponsor a couple of local children who attend also. And rest assured we will make sure that he continues with his badges as well. Who knows? Somewhere down the line he may even join the back room staff here!"

    "Harry shouldn't be too long now so we'll go down and have a coffee and wait for him there."

    Cowling was right. Harry himself walked into the canteen less than ten minutes later after completing his medical and everyone could see that it had gone well as he came through the doors wearing club training kit.
    Harry sat down next his parents and was brought a bottle of water.

    Ward returned just after and also sat at the table.
    "Well. The physio is very happy with you and you passed the medical. He said you are very fit for a lad of your age so we are very happy!
    Now though it's time to meet your new teammates."

  11. #11
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    Harry left with Ward. Leaving his parents with the chairman Robbie Cowling once again. Harry and Ward decended into the bowels of the stadium to the home dressing room. As they approached down the tunnel, Ward spoke to Harry.
    "OK. We're about to meet the team. All I'm going to say is don't be overawed when you walk in. You have every right to be in that dressing room now, as much as anyone else in there. Enjoy yourself out there today. You're not below any of those guys in there you're an equal now. Part of the same squad despite your age.
    Remember it's only a training session though. Impress me but don't go over the top."

    "Alright Mr Ward." said Harry.
    "None of that. Call me Gaffer from now on."

    Ward pushed open the door to the dressing room and the room quietened down. Harry followed him in.
    "Alright Harry. Stick yourself in over there. We've already brought your boots in but as we are a Puma brand club there's a brand new pair of Puma boots there for you.The choice is yours."

    As he walked in, he looked up and saw smiling faces looking back at him. One of those faces was Matt Heath, who held out a welcoming hand which Harry shook.
    As he got to his spot in the changing room he spotted the new boots.

    How could Harry turn them down? They looked immaculate. Much better than his current pair. He sat down in his cubby hole and slipped on his shin pads, socks and then his new boots.
    Another face looked over at him and said
    "Christen them well mate."
    Harry would later find out that face was Medi Elito. For now he just looked up and smiled.

    The squad were ready and Ward addressed the squad.
    "Alright lads. Settle down. First pre season session on the pitch today. Don't cut it up too much eh?! Ha ha! Firstly though I need to introduce the newest member of the squad. Sitting over there is Harry. Signed on officially today and he's coming to join us out on the pitch today.
    He's a forward so defenders go a little easy on him. Not too easy mind!
    Help him settle in alright lads? OK. Let's have a good session today. Gonna be a lot of ball work today. Unless you want some more stamina training?"

    The whole room groaned.

    "I didn't think so. Go on then. Get out there. Get yourself warmed up and we'll get straight into some small sided games."

    Harry had a great session. After getting to know the names of a few players he soon settled into the training. He enjoyed the drills. He even picked up a few things that he had never seen before, not even on the coaching courses. Everything was going so well. He felt fresh at the end of the session even though he hadn't actually played any football for the last two weeks. He scored a stinging 15 yard drive during one of the matches and he thought he had had a good 'debut' session. As he left the field, he looked up and saw his parents watching him, applauding him from the field. Harry was glad he hadn't noticed them there before. The session may not have gone so well if he had.

    After a shower, he got himself dressed again and went back to meet his parents back in the canteen. He was expecting to go straight off to see his new 'digs' but he was told he wait to wait a few minutes so the Gaffer could have a word with him.
    He sat with his parents and they congrualated him on his confident start.

    Soon Ward walked in.
    "Well Done Harry." he chirped.
    "You looked like you enjoyed that?"
    "Certainly did Mr W-. Sorry. Gaffer." replied Harry.
    "Well. I understand you are off to see your new home now. May I suggest when you get there, unpack and settle in quickly and then pack yourself an overnight bag."

    Harry looked at Ward and his parents with a confused look on his face.

    "I was impressed by you out there today. So much so that we have a friendly away to Wrexham on Tuesday.
    And you're in the squad!"

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    What a revelation!
    What a shock!

    Harry nearly dropped the bottle of water that he was holding when he heard this statement.
    With this, Ward left so that Harry could fully absorb the news.
    Little over a week after he had first arrived at the club, two days after he had officially signed for the club and he would be pulling on the shirt and becoming part of the squad. Yes it was only a friendly against lower league opposition but things were going so well, so fast and his head was spinning.

    After what seemed no time at all but was actually twenty minutes, his Mum tapped him on the shoulder and told him it was time to go. Harry must have zoned out thinking about the news that had been given to him.
    But now it was time to go and see the house that he was to live in.

    The house was not far away from the ground and was located on a road called Howards Croft. It was literally down the road from the ground. Ideally situated for a person who is yet to reach an age where they are able to drive. A little road, hidden away from the main road not far away from the centre of Colchester and no more than a medium length jog to the stadium.

    The chairman was going to show the Bow's round himself and as they pulled up their car next to his on the driveway of the house they saw that it was a lovely house.

    They walked in and looked around.
    It was a four bedroom house, two bathrooms, plenty of space and opposite was a recreation ground where Harry could keep fit when not at the club. The last room they went into was the lounge and waiting in there were Harry's two new housemates.
    The first of these was one of the faces that had spoken to earlier in the day when entering the dressing room. That man was Medi Elito, 19, and a right midfielder at the club. The second was another young face. Carl Pentney was a 20 year old back up keeper at the club.
    Pentney was also new at the club. Elito had been at the club since 2007 and had 31 league appearances under his belt including a 12 game loan stint at Cheltenham last season.
    Elito was basically Harry but four years further down the line. This would be perfect for Harry. He could speak to Medi and see how he settled in his early days at the club and see how he felt.
    As Elito was the first to move in, he had already nabbed the en suite master bedroom. Pentney also had his room so Harry had the choice of two rooms. The other would stay empty for now. All the bedrooms were of a similar large size. Harry picked the slightly bigger one.

    The chairman left and Harry and his family began to unpack. Everything was brought in from the car and then Harry's parents sat down for a cup of coffe before leaving. They needed to get back to Harry's brother.
    They stood and both parents gave their son a big hug as they said goodbye. Harry went outside and waved them off. As they rounded the corner and disappeared from sight it suddenly dawned on him. He was on his own!

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    Harry's housemates helped him settle well on his first night away from his family.
    Elito was a games buff and there was a PS3 and an Xbox set up in the front room.
    The three new housemates sat together, talking and getting to know each other and playing FIFA.
    Harry had always been a Pro Evo kinda guy so he didn't win many matches but he enjoyed playing and was getting better by the end of the evening.
    Soon they realised it was after midnight and they'd better get some sleep as although it was Sunday the next day they were due in for training with the Tuesday friendly ahead.

    It took Harry a while to fall asleep. A strange room, a different bed, thinking of home.
    Eventually he did fall asleep and awoke the next morning feeling rested.

    It was an early wake up for him, again because it was just a new environment.
    He went downstairs and poured himself an orange juice from the fridge. Then wandered into the front room.
    Pentney was already in there watching Sky Sports News.
    The big news of the morning was that Michael Carrick was apparently unhappy at Manchester United and was looking at the possibility of moving on. Darron Gibson had already been transfer listed at his own request in a bid to find regular first team football.
    Harry sat down on the sofa and his mind drifted to times in the future when he might be the basis of the Sky Sports rumour mill linking him to the biggest clubs in the world. It felt good. But still a dream.

    Elito was soon awake as well and at 9am on the dot, a car horn was heard outside as the club had sent a car for the three of them to take them to training.
    They put all their kit in the boot and piled in and off they went to training.

    After training, one of the coaches asked Harry to go along to the Gaffer's office.
    After getting a bit lost, he finally found it and knocked on the door.

    He was invited in.
    "Come in Harry. Have a seat." said Ward
    "Thank you Gaffer."
    "I've called you in quickly just to see how training went?"
    "Erm, it was hard work today. I felt it I'll be honest but I already feel fitter if that makes sense?!"
    "It certainly does and that is the exact purpose of the stamina training session. The other reason I've called you in is to give you something."
    With this, he reached under his desk and pulled something out and handed it to Harry.
    Harry took the gift. He could see it was a Colchester home shirt.
    He placed it on the desk and waited for Ward to speak again.

    "This is yours. The reason I'm giving it to you now is because hopefully it's going to be a bit of a confidence boost to you. Open it up and you'll see what I'm talking about."

    Harry unfolded the shirt and held it up in front of himself. He saw the Puma shirt with the club crest on it and the current club sponsor across the middle. At the moment it was Reader Offers Limited. It was a nice shirt. Harry liked it's look.
    Then he turned the shirt round and saw:

    "I've given you the number 9 shirt to give you confidence. To show you that you are very much part of this squad and that I believe in you. This is for pre season but if you impress me enough you may even end up keeping that squad number."

    Ward was right. Harry immediately felt more confident in himself and in his abilities.
    Roll on Tuesday he thought.

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    Tuesday came around in no time and as Harry arrived at the club early Tuesday morning he had some major butterflies.
    He was yet to speak to some players in the squad. He had taken to the training field with them but hadn't yet had a proper chat with them.

    The squad arrived at 9am and boarded the team bus for the journey across the country and into Wales.

    Traffic inevitably held them up on the M1 again on the A5 as they went around Shrewsbury and a little as they entered Wrexham but they made good time and arrived at the ground at around 2.45pm.

    They all filed off the coach and in no time were out on the pitch having a light training session before returning to the hotel for the pre match briefing and for Ward to go over the tactics for the evening.

    The meeting was called for 6pm and when all the squad arrived Ward stood and walked to the front of the room to address his squad.

    "OK Lads. Welcome to Wales!
    Let's start this pre season the way we want to continue. With a win!
    I'll tell you now I'm going to try something a little different today. If it goes well it may be something we can take forward into the season.
    I'm going to name the team to you now but it won't be released to the opposition until just before kick off.
    Ok. Here we go.
    In goal Williams. Defense White Beevers Baldwin......."

    Harry's mind drifted. He thought about watching the opening exchanges of the game from the bench maybe picking up from tips on how the opposition defenders played.
    He heard his surname called and automatically assumed Ward had spoken quickly and he was listing the substitutes. He then felt his teammates patting him on the back and congratulating him.
    He listened intently to the next thing that the Gaffer said.

    "and up front with Harry is Dave Mooney."

    "Hold on" thought Harry. "I'm starting?"

    Another massive revelation in the young life of Harry Bow.
    He would be starting striker in Colchester United's first pre season game of the 2010/11 season.

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    It was soon 6pm and the squad were ready to board the bus again, this time bound for The Racecourse Ground, Wrexham.
    Harry was on cloud nine! He had literally never felt so happy in his life.
    He was less than two hours away from his professional football debut playing with seasoned pro's, playing against one of the most famous clubs in Wales.
    He was nervous also. There were a couple of others making their Colchester debut but for Harry alone was it their first ever game.
    He sat on his own on the coach and stared out of the window collecting his thoughts. Thinking about what might happen. Standing on the pitch as the first whistle blew, his first touch, his first shot on goal.
    These thoughts could wait though as a little after 6:30, the coach pulled into the stadium and the Colchester squad disembarked and made their way tho the away changing room.
    As they walked up the tunnel to the changing room, a member of the back room staff handed over a sheet of paper.
    The team sheet:

    Harry settled into his spot in the changing room and began to change. The players were lighthearted. Jokes were being told. The stereo was on.
    Soon after they went out and completed their pre match stretching and final warm up and the team talk was given.

    Ward began:
    "Alright lads. Let's start the way we mean to go on this season. I've spoken to you all individually about your roles but I want clean, fluid attacking football. Let the ball do the work and we'll have a good game. That's all I have to say. Go out and enjoy yourself and let me see what you've learnt over the last few weeks."

    Out on the pitch by 7:35, knocking the ball around and Harry's heart was pounding so hard he thought he might pass out. He had to calm down. One of the ball boys knocked a high ball straight up in the air.
    "How's ya touch?!?!" Harry heard coming from numerous directions.

    Instead of controlling it, as the ball dropped he lashed a volley at goal. He was a full 25 yards out from goal and the shot cracked the crossbar. The look of shock on his team mates faces was echoed briefly by Harry himself. He soon changed his expression to one that conveyed that he knew exactly what he was doing and could do it at anytime.

    Soon after the referee's whistle blew the captains shook hands tossed the coin and it was time for Harry Bow's

    professional career was about to kick off!

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    The debut started slowly. It was probably a full 5 minutes before Harry got his first touch.
    The ball was rolled into his feet sharply by Kemi Izzet and a split second after controlling it he was clattered from behind by Wrexham defender Chris Blackburn.

    "Welcome to professional football" Harry thought as he lay on the floor holding his ankle.
    Wrexham obviously went out with a game plan to intimidate the youngster as he was felled a number of times by cynical challenges within the first twenty minutes. The referee it seemed had been given instructions not to show any cards as it was a pre season game but Bow was being taken out of the game.

    The Colchester manager made a slight change and brought Harry out to the right hand side of the forward four. With Wrexham playing 3 at the back, he had no direct opponent and that helped him settle into the game. He threw in a couple of crosses for his forward colleagues but they were unable to capitalise on them. Harry settled back into the game and stayed out on the right side until half time.
    During the half time break, Harry convinced the coaching staff that he was fine and would be going out for the second half. And the fact that he wanted to go back to his original position up front.
    Ward agreed and Harry went back to joining Dave Mooney up front.

    He was not intimidated in the second half and knew that the tackles were coming. He used his age and superior pace a number of times to either pop the ball off and go for the return pass or knock the ball round the corner and chase it down himself. Each time, the central defender was commited to the original tackle and was in no position to re-adjust in time to follow Bow.
    Harry grew in confidence as the half went on and that confidence was rewarded four minutes from time when as the ball was played down the line by left back Lee Beevers, Harry chased down the ball and looked to hold it up. The central defender followed him out to the left wing to cut off his options. Harry sensed the player coming and dropped his left shoulder feigning to come inside. The defender leaned that way also and then, quick as a flash, Bow switched his bodyweight and swept past the player on the opposite side. The defender was left for dead and Harry was through and heading for the byline.
    He didn't need to get that far. As he looked up he saw Mooney and pulled to the back post off his marker who was coming across to cover Harry.
    Harry played a ball along the ground along the six yard line and Mooney was left with a simple tap in to score the only goal of the game and win the game for Colchester.
    As Mooney ran to the corner flag to celebrate his goal, Harry was surprised that so many of his team mates were coming to him to celebrate the goal before making their way to the scorer.
    "Quality Harry!" remarked Izzet.
    "Skinned him mate. Brilliant!" said Simon Hackney.
    Even as Harry caught up with Mooney the goalscorer was pointing at him acknowledging his integral part in the goal.

    "I could get used to this!" thought Harry. The adulation of his peers plus the two hundred or so travelling fans who had made the long trip west as well.

    The game ended with that being the only goal and Harry had made a winning start to his career.
    He came off to thunderous applause from the travelling fans and he applauded back for the support they had given him and his teammates.

    Harry went into the changing room and was greeted by his teammates again telling him how well he had done.
    To follow that, Harry had his first experience of an ice bath before hitting the showers and changing before boarding the team bus and departing back to the hotel.

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    It was relatively early to bed for Harry after the game but he was truly buzzing.
    He'd set up the winner in his first ever game and had endeared himself to both his team mates and the fans.
    He knew he hadn't played especially well but had grown into the game and showed a few flashes of what he thought he was capable of.

    It was an early start in the morning for breakfast and then a squad debrief before heading back to Essex.
    When Harry awoke he was hungry. As he got to the breakfast room, the smell of the bacon, sausages, mushrooms, fried bread and the like were almost to much for him to take! He was truly salivating at the thought.

    Then he looked at his team mates that had got there before him. No one was eating it. They were all eating cereal and sipping juice.
    Harry looked around and then saw the Gaffer in the corner of the room.
    He thought about taking the greasy stuff but thought he didn't really want to fall out with the management at this early stage of his career so opted for museli and an apple juice.
    Harry didn't mind museli so he wasn't too bothered.

    After breakfast the squad moved into the hotel's main hall for the debrief on the game.
    When everyone arrived, Ward stood at the front and addressed his players.

    "Well first of all lads a very well done. To win a game using a formation that we've never played before is a great acheivement. Congratulations go to everyone on the field. Lasting ninety minutes in the first pre season game of the season is great and shows that the stamina work is paying off. That should help us in the long season ahead.
    Well done to Mooney for his goal and to Harry for the assist. Man of the Match though goes to John White at right back. He worked out early that he had opportunity to get forward without the orthordox right midfielder in front of him. He and Harry linked up well in the latter stages of the first half and John continued that on when Ashley Vincent came back out there second half. He also had to be a little wary of the Wrexham forward line as they were pulling out to the wings to collect the ball where possible but he marked well and tidied up when needed. Well Done John!

    Apart from that we looked sharp. We passed the ball well and looked confident on the ball. 95% of passes were completed so I can't grumble.
    The only downside I can bring from the game was the fact that we only had one shot on target in the game. Granted we scored it but of eight shots, seven didn't trouble the keeper. Add to that the fact we were playing effectively 4 up front and that's a bit of a worry.

    That's about it. We'll analyse a bit more when we get back. Does anyone else have anything?" Ward looked at his coaches who all shook their heads.

    "Ok. Go get yourself packed. We leave at half ten."

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    The team arrived back in Colchester around 3:30pm and all quickly departed for their respective homes. Harry's housemate Carl Pentney was sub keeper for the game so they travelled home together.

    "Medi's not going to believe you got a game let alone set up the winner mate!" said Carl.
    "I can barely believe it myself mate!"

    Medi was sitting on the sofa when the two walked in.

    "Hello mate." said both Harry and Carl together.
    "Alright boys." came the reply.

    Carl then went on to recount the game to Medi. He exaggerated a fair few of the details but Medi listened and congratulated Harry when the story was over.

    Harry settled down in front of the TV and had a good rest. He had a day off the next day and was next due into the club on Thursday morning.

    Thursday came round and the squad assembled at the ground for the manager John Ward to speak to them.

    "Right lads. Once again well done on the Wrexham win but it's going to get stepped up a notch. Next game is on Monday and we are at home. To Nottingham Forest. It's going to be a test. They are in the division above us and are a good side. Decent players in their ranks. Camp in goal, Konchesky, McGugan, Earnshaw. But that doesn't matter. We showed in Wrexham that we are a good side too. No doubt we won't have it all our own way but I want a performance from us. I'll be changing the formation for this one to test another one out. We'll go out playing a 4-4-2 diamond so we're going to see how that goes.
    We've got three days to work on it and all the individual player roles so get yourself out on the training pitch and learn how to play this way.
    I won't be naming the squad until after Sunday morning's training session so you can all go out and impress me to get your name on the team sheet.

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    Training went well and Harry enjoyed the freedom that the diamond formation gave him.
    When the attacking midfielder dropped deeper into the centre of midfield it allowed Harry to drop back into 'the hole' that had been vacated and link midfield and attack.
    He felt he had played well enough to warrant a place in the squad but he also knew that the Forest game would be a much harder test than the Wrexham one and inside himself knew that he would probably be dropped to accomodate a more experienced face. Kayode Odejayi was another new signing at the club and hadn't featured in the previous friendly.
    In the final training session Harry was dropped out to the right side of midfield to see if he could play out there. He enjoyed the different role and relished the job asked off him to see if he could hug the touchline to see if that created extra width for the team as a whole.
    It seemed to work so gave the Gaffer something to think about.

    Sunday came and the squad were called in for the squad announcement.
    The players filed in after lunch and all sat and waited for John Ward to arrive.
    Harry sat with Carl Pentney. Harry looked at Carl and said
    "You'll be in again mate but not sure I'll be in this time."
    Carl shrugged. "Don't know mate."

    Ward after a delay finally came into the room and addressed his players.

    "Right. Straight to business.
    The squad for the Forest game here tomorrow night is Williams and Pentney the keepers. White, Powell, Baldwin, Okuonghae, Donnelly and Webb the defenders. James, Izzet, Wordsworth, O'Toole, Perkins, Bond and Vincent in midfield. And up front Henderson, Gillespie Mooney, Odejayi and Bow. I want the squad here by 6pm tomorrow night. The ones not picked I want you attending the game as well so go and see reception if you want a ticket allocation.
    That's it - you've got the rest of the day off. Get out of here before I change my mind."

    Harry quietly punched the air and then shook hands with Pentney. He'd made the squad again!
    Now to get home and prepare himself for the game.

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    On the way back to the house Harry got a call from his Mum.

    "Hi Mum!"
    "Hi Son. How are you? You alright? Just wanted to let you know that me and your Dad are coming up to the game tomorrow. Do we get tickets from you or will we have to buy them through the club. Will you be sitting with us?"

    "Well Mum. I'm alright yeah. I have an allocation of tickets so I can give you a couple when you get up here. Is it just you and Dad? I won't be able to sit with you though I'm afraid."

    "Oh. Why not?"
    "Well the reason that I'm in the squad again!!"
    "What?! Really? Wow! He's in the squad for tomorrow! Hold on. Your Dad wants a word."
    Harry's Dad came on the line.

    "You're in the squad?! Congratulations. I'm so glad we're coming now. It'll be amazing to see my son play."
    "Whoa Dad! I'm only in the squad. On the bench at best I reckon. I might not even get on so let's not get ahead of ourselves! I'm working hard but there's a lot of players more experienced than me. They'll get the nod I reckon.
    Be good to see you both though. I miss you up here sometimes. Luckily the club are keeping me busy. And I got two great hhousemates. Should see me on FIFA now - I'm awesome!!. Anyway I'm just getting home now so I gotta go but I'm see you soon. Tomorrow. You gonna come here first yeah?

    "Yeah. We will. Get there about 4 I would say."
    "OK. See you then. Safe journey."

    With that Harry ended the call just as his cab pulled up outside the house. He got his training stuff out of the boot and went inside.

    He had another shower and came down for dinner. After that the lads watched a movie and both Carl and Harry got an early night in preparation for what would come the next day.

    The morning of the game meant a little bit of a lie in. Harry woke up around 9 and watched a DVD about Forest compiled by the club in bed.
    He got lazily out of bed around 11 and got dressed.
    Medi was just about to leave as the players not in the squad were still due in for a light training session.
    Carl was going into the club early as well to do a little weights session in the gym.
    Harry stayed at home and rustled himself up a light lunch before making sure all his stuff was ready for the game. There wasn't much for him to take as most of it was already at the club waiting for him in the changing room.

    It was soon 3:45pm and a little earlier than expected there was a knock at the door. It was Harry's parents. He hugged them both on the doorstep and invited them in.
    They sat and chatted for a while. Harry caught up on what he had missed from back home. But then as the clock approached 5:3pm Harry told his parents that he had to go.
    They offered to give him a lift and by 5:45pm they were at the club. Harry went through the players door and his parents picked up their tickets from reception and left again to go and have a look around Colchester to return in time for kick off.

    Soon Harry was preparing for the game also. The squad all sat in the changing room and listened as John Ward as he gave his first initial team talk.

    "Lads. Today is a day to enjoy. All I ask from you is to enjoy the game today. The result doesn't matter too much. Saying that if we are winning with half an hour left I expect us to get a result. But if we lose a few goals or lose one early don't let your heads go down. Keep to the game plan and we will stay in contention.
    Now on to the team. The starting eleven is........."

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    "......Williams in goal. Back four of Powell, Baldwin, Okuonghae and White. At the base of the diamond is James. Wordsworth and Izzet in the middle but with licence to go out wide and at the top of the diamond is O'Toole. Starting forwards are Mooney and Bow.
    That's how we'll start and we'll see how we go. Changes can be made if needs be."

    Harry was delighted. He didn't think he was even in the running for a starting position so to be able to continue his partnership with Dave Mooney was fantastic.
    He kitted up in readiness then he remembered. His parents were here. His parents were going to see him playing football for a professional football club. His Dad had seen him numerous times playing for his Sunday League side and in school matches but this would be something else.
    He sat down and held his head in his hands. He had to regain his composure. He couldn't let it affect his performance but by the same token he wanted to make them proud.
    He didn't have too much time to regain his composure as before he knew it the squad were going out for the pre match warm up.
    Harry decided to not make any gesture to his parents that indicated his starting position. He gave them a little wave after he located them in the stand but then got down to the warm up. Around ten minutes later, the players all disappeared off down the tunnel ready for the game.

    Back in the changing room, Harry got his final preparations completed had a swig of an energy drink and put on his shirt. It still felt amazing to put the number nine on his back!

    The bell rang and the team were ready and back out onto the pitch they went. He walked out 3rd from the back of the line and as he reached the line for the handshakes, he turned to the main stand and looked up to where his parents were sitting. The look of shock on his mother's face was something that Harry would never forget. His father was on his feet applauding like Harry had just hit a double hundred at Lord's. He was the proudest father in the world at that moment.

    The game itself when it did kick off was a bit of a damp squib. Despite being opposition from a higher division Forest were poor. Colchester played well but you could see that they were playing the formation for the first time. They settled as the game went on but it wasn't the greatest game ever played!

    Harry himself played well. Linking play when he could, feeding off flick ons from Mooney.
    He wasn't involved in the goal which for the second game running was scored by Dave Mooney.
    But he did get the full ninety minutes and didn't let himself down as Colchester picked up a 1-0 win and Bow's 100% record as a player continued.

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    "No training tomorrow as the next friendly is in 2 days." said manager Ward. "Home again and we face Birmingham City. Arguably an even bigger game than Forest in terms of stature. Internationals throughout so this one will definately test us. It'll be a different formation again so the whole squad will be here Wednesday morning 11am for a light training session and we'll work on the formation."

    Harry went home happy. Another ninety minutes under his belt. Not as much impact as in the Wrexham game but he certainly hadn't let himself down.
    When he got home his parents were there they had been let in by his housemate who had gone back with them after the game. Both parents hugged their son.
    "Brilliant son. You were brilliant today!" exclaimed his Mum.
    "Gone a bit overboard there I think Mum!" replied Harry. "What did you think Dad?"
    Harry always respected his Dad's opinion. He had watched him his whole football career and watched most of his games.
    "Well son. You played alright but I've seen you play better. Take the positives. You played well enough. You tested they're centre half - Chambers was it - a few times. He knew he'd been in a game! And you weren't taken off because you couldn't cope or anything like that. So all I'm all I'd be happy."

    After a cheeky take away bought by his parents he waved them off and relaxed down in the front room to watch some TV with Carl and Medi.
    The next day was another relaxing day. Harry and Medi went for a light run around the park and then came back to dinner made by Carl. They all then sat down to watch a DVD of Birmingham's previous friendly that they lost to Galatasaray.
    They certainly looked like a Premier Division side despite the defeat.
    "Scott Dann and Roger Johnson looked like very good defenders." said Pentney.
    "Yep" replied Harry.
    In all honesty again he didn't think he would be playing in this game. Come on he thought this is a Premier League side and I've played 2 games. There's no way I'll play.
    Despite this he still watched intently at how the Brum back four operated. He saw both full backs - Stephen Carr and Liam Ridgewell - as a slight weak link. Carr due to a lack of pace and Ridgewell as he was out of position. He is a centre back by trade shoved out to full back because of the form of Dann and Johnson.
    Harry also watched Cameron Jerome closely as he put in a man of the match display of running and closing and making runs to create space or his teammates.
    It would be a tough job for whichever eleven the manager picked.

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    Wednesday morning came around and Harry, Medi and Carl went into the club for the arranged training session.
    It involved the whole squad and was a nice light runout. Or it would have been if Harry hadn't taken a knock about ten minutes in and spent part of the session with an ice pack on his knee.

    "I'm gonna have to keep moving." Harry said to the physio. "It'll seize up otherwise.
    "Don't worry. It doesn't feel too bad. Clash of knees was it?"
    "Yeah. Bloody hurt at the time but it doesn't feel as bad now. I'll stay out of the session for now but I'll just go for a light jog.

    Harry jogged up and down the touchline a few times then felt he was ready to rejoin the session. He did so for the last half an hour for a game of two touch and then some work on the formation.
    Harry felt he would enjoy this formation. Having an attacking midfielder behind the front two would create an extra link for the attacking side of things.
    He just hoped he would play some part in the game.

    "Just the one change - Henderson is in for James. Apart from that it's the same team. As before, enjoy yourself. It'll be a great test for us and will tell us where we stand for the season ahead. Back four as you were. Pick up where you left off.
    It'll be three central midfielders as I think Birmingham will play two in there so should give us the extra man in there. Wordsworth and Henderson will be on the outsides of this three and will have licence to go out wide to help out and give the full backs an outlet ball but also when we are going forward so that you can link with John-Joe who's playing in front of you 'in the hole'. Izzet in the middle of the three will primarily look to be defensive minded. You will probably be up against Barry Ferguson so will need to keep tabs on him because he will want to pull the strings. Up front I can't break up Harry and Dave so again go out and cause their defence problems.
    Ok. Off you go. Have a rest and see you tonight for the game. The twenty in the squad will stay here but the rest of you can go but be back for the game."

    Now Harry's mind had been blown. How highly did the Gaffer rate him? He has decided to pick a 15 year old who has taken a knock on the day of the game to play against Premier League opposition.
    This made Harry think briefly to the future. Starting centre forward when the first league game comes round? Top scorer? Captain? International football? Winning the World Cup!

    Bloody hell Harry! he thought to himself. Wind your neck in! Harry was not usually the type of person who let things get away from him like that. He was level headed. Realistic. Driven but realistic. This start to his career was better than he had ever expected and it was playing with his mind.
    He leveled his head and went in to have a shower and get a little massage on his knee.

    After that it was further tactical talk and a watch of another DVD of a Birminghamgame. Their 1-1 draw with Auxerre of France where Lee Bowyer had both scored and been sent off. They played a 4-5-1 with Obafemi Martins up front on his own. They relied on him using his pace to get in behind the defence and then getting bodies in the box to support him. Again Dann and Johnson had played at the heart of the defence so Harry was confident he knew what he would be facing.

    Soon it was 7:45 and Harry found himself standing in the centre circle with Dave Mooney ready to take the kick off.

  24. #24
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    After what seemed an age, Dave Mooney knocked the ball forward and the game kicked off and for the first ten minutes or so went at a terrific pace, Birmingham clearly gearing this up as their last pre season game and working at a tempo that they would be expecting when they kicked off the Premier League campaign.
    Colchester had to match them and match them they did. They held firm at the back and for that first ten minutes, Harry barely had a touch. The ball was barely in Birmingham's half in fact but soon after the ten minute mark, Colchester grew in confidence and started to take the game to their opponents.

    Harry enjoyed playing up against Roger Johnson and Scott Danns. They were good defenders but clever defenders. Thy weren't the type who would go through the back of you just to stop you going anywhere. They did their defending properly. Standing off when they needed to but coming in tight and stopping the turn when they needed to also. Sure there was the odd shirt tug but who doesn't do that.

    Colchester came into their own but then were hit by a counter punch on the break.
    Anthony Wordsworth miscontrolled the ball and it went out for a throw in the right back position.
    Quickly, Stephen Carr took the throw to Seb Larsson who knocked it back to Carr. Carr played forward into the centre circle to Barry Ferguson who as Ferguson does knocked it off simply. He played the ball into Craig Gardner who played forward and quickly into the feet of loanee Obafemi Martins on the edge of the box.
    With his first touch back to goal, Martins turned John-Joe O'Toole and unleashed a 20 yard drive into the top corner of the Colchester net!
    He celebrated in typical style!

    Harry had always liked Martins. His pace, his power and as he had just proved, one hell of a shot on him.
    Harry was roused from his thoughts by his teammate Ian Henderson geeing up his colleagues.
    "Come on lads!" he shouted "This isn't over yet. Let's show 'em what we've got!"

    And show them they did and it only took them four minutes to get back on level terms.
    A long ball up field was taken on the chest by Dave Mooney who held he ball up expertly before laying off to Harry.
    Harry then stepped inside Hleb and without breaking stride tried to strike a shot at goal. It was at this point that he was brought down by a late challenge from Ridgewell.

    Anthony Wordsworth took on the free kick duties and.........

    Foster was beaten and Colchester were in the ascendency.
    A number of chances went to both sides but at half time, the score was 1-1.

    It was hard to tell which side were the Premier Legue team and which were Second Division outfit.
    It was that close. Harry was enjoying himself as well. Working hard for the team, running into channels and putting pressure on the full backs and he was definately giving Dann a hard time. As the half time whistle blew, Harry ran to catch up with Wordsworth and congratulate him. Dann by contrast trudged off arguing with Carr about a loss of possession between the two a couple of minutes earlier.

    No changes were made at half time and the same 22 players took to the field and again the action went end to end. Birmingham keeping the ball well and Colchester hitting on the break carving out chances at speed.
    Hleb hit the bar after a flowing move, Bow and Mooney both forced saves from Foster from back post headers, Seb Larsson's inswinging corner was headed off the line by John White after Williams in the Colchester goal was completely beaten by the flight of the ball.

    All in all it was a very entertaining game which ended in a creditable draw for the U's.
    The Colchester team left the field happy and continued celebrations in the changing room.

    "How good are we?" stated Wordsworth.
    "We're the best!" replied Mooney.
    Harry laughed along and knew they were just hyped up on the positive result but knew, especially at this stage of his career, that it wasn't all going to go this well!

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    Just one more game and pre season would be over and the hard work would then start for Colchester United. Embarking on a successful season in the Second Division.
    But first a tie away to Cambridge United at Abbey Stadium. And just two days after the Birmingham game as well.
    Another formation loomed as well and the squad spent the day inbetween the games viewing DVD's of Cambridge play and going over the fourth different formation in four pre season games.
    The formation was to be a 3-5-2, with three central defenders, a flat traditional midfield four accompanied by an attacking midfielder and two up front.

    What John Ward explained to the squad seemed simple on paper but would the XI chosen be able to pull it off on the pitch? Harry felt a little jaded and felt that he would be rested for sure but at the end of the meeting, John Ward read out the squad of twenty that would be travelling the short journey to Cambridge the next afternoon and Harry's was the last name to be read out.

    Like the first three times, Harry was over the moon! Each time he thought this would be the time that he would be dropped from the squad for someone more experienced to come in, especially in the Birmingham fixture. But Harry thought that that game was a turning point. He thought that was the game where the majority of his team mates were convinced that he was around to stay. He could have been wrong but he felt that a couple of squad members weren't too happy that he had been given his opportunity so early in both his life and his Colchester career.
    Who knows. Harry wasn't going to ask them. He just hurried home so he could give his parents a call and let them know he was continuing his fairy tale by staying in the squad.

    As he got home with Carl, they both informed Medi that they were in the squad so would be leaving the next afternoon for Cambridge. Unlike the first time they both made the squad together, this time Medi did not even look round from the television when they told him.
    "Great." was his only acknowledgement.

    Harry rang his parents and told them. They were unable to make it to the game although it was reasonably local, so they wished him the best of luck and asked him to call when he returned.

    The next day soon arrived and as Cambridge is so close to Colchester, the selected squad did not need to leave until the early afternoon for the evening kick off.
    Harry knew Cambridge reletively well as his parents had friends who lived in the city and it was less than 6 months since he had been there himself on a visit to friends, going swimming at Parkside Leiure Centre and then watching a University Cricket match on the green opposite, called Parker's Piece.
    Harry liked Cambridge and loved going there but for this visit it would be for a totally different reason.

    Harry and Carl left home at 2pm headed for the club.
    "So what's up with Medi then?" asked Carl.
    "I don't know. I don't suppose it's very nice to be left in the house alone when your two housemates go off to play for the first team. replied Harry.
    "Yeah. Maybe. He'll be alright come the start of the season proper. There will be reserve fixtures then so if he doesn't break into the first team, at least he'll have a game."
    Yeah. We'll more than likely all be in the Reserves together! That'd be cool! said Harry.

    They both arrived at the club and boarded the bus bound for Cambridge.
    Harry usually sat with Carl but today he was called over by Anthony Wordsworth.
    "Alright H?! Wanna sit with us today?"
    Wow. It was like he had thought. Like he had finally been accepted fully into the fold instead of a fly by night who would be here one day and gone the next.
    Harry thought about it for a while.
    "Er. Sorry Anthony but I'm going to sit with Carl. Can't just abandon my housemate now can I?!"
    Harry sat next to Carl with Carl beaming that his friend had stood by him and not abandoned him.
    "See. I told you he wasn't a follower. He knows his own mind." Kemi Izzet said to Wordsworth.
    Harry overheard this. As long as his team mates knew that from the off, things were going to go fine, whether he stayed in the squad or not.

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