FEATURE: Dream time for Cobblers fan Scott Pollock as he swaps watching for playing
As reasons for giving up your season ticket go, Scott Pollock’s is a good one.
The 17-year-old’s rise through the Cobblers youth ranks has been so swift that he’s had to relinquish his season ticket this term, swapping his seat in the stands for a place with the first-team on the pitch.
It was only in the summer when Pollock, a former player for YouTube-founded Hashtag United, joined the club’s academy, signing a two-year scholarship in September, just two weeks before he appeared on the bench for Town’s Sky Bet League Two clash at Mansfield Town.
With 10 goals in nine games from midfield for the youth team, his progress has been rapid, underlined on Saturday when he was handed his first-team debut at Cambridge United.
“It’s been a really big change,” admitted the teenager. “I was with the elite at U14s level and that was just below the academy so I was always on the fringes.
“I had a couple of trials with the academy but never joined and then I went to the BTEC to try to progress my football there.
“Shane and Andy, the coaches there, helped me a lot in training and got me a trial for the youth team only last pre-season so I trained with them and here I am now!”
While Pollock represents a huge success for the Cobblers youth system, having gone from the club’s BTEC education scholarship to the academy team to the senior side, his first experience of men’s football came with Hashtag United and then St Neots Town, where he joined on loan earlier this month.
But recalled last week to help plug the gaps in Town’s injury-ravaged squad, he was named on the bench by Keith Curle for Saturday’s game at the Abbey Stadium, sitting alongside fellow teenagers and academy prospects Camron McWilliams and Jack Newell.
And when he replaced another academy-produced youngster in Shaun McWilliams with 44 minutes on the clock, he became the first player to emerge from Northampton’s education programme into the first team.
He added: “I came on earlier than I thought!
“It’s what every kid dreams of – to become a professional footballer and play at a professional level.
“I only came through the BTEC a year ago and I joined the youth team this season so I want to thank all the coaches for all their hard work that they’ve done for me and obviously I’m grateful to Keith for the opportunity.
“It’s a big change from youth football but I had a couple of games with St Neots and that was a good experience for me in men’s football.
“I still have to adapt and get used to it but I thought I did all right.
“The gaffer was happy with what I did when I came on and I think the boys were too but I’ve still got stuff to learn.”
It wasn’t so long ago when Pollock was just a fan himself, dreaming of playing for his boyhood club.
Indeed, his Cobblers idol growing up needs no introduction.
He revealed: “At the time, when I first got a season ticket, it was all about Akinfenwa!
“Not that I play in any similar way to him but he made me want to go and watch the games because of his presence and what he could do.”
So what type of player is Pollock?
“I started out as a winger when I was younger but I’ve been playing in central midfield for the youth team and that’s my preferred position,” he explained.
“I like to get involved, get on the ball, win tackles and make headers and score a few goals as well. That’s my game.”
Town could do with some of those attributes over the remaining 18 fixtures of the season.
Beaten by the last kick of the game at Cambridge, they are dangerously close to the relegation zone in league two, just six points clear.
“I’m absolutely gutted about the result,” admitted Pollock, a lifelong Cobblers supporter, after United came from 1-0 and 2-1 down to snatch a 3-2 victory four minutes into time added on at the end of the game.
“The timings of the goals were disappointing, two minutes before half-time and then obviously in the last minute.
“It’s gutting but we have to look back through the footage, see where we went wrong and go again next week.
“We’ve had a few ups and downs this season but we take every game as it comes and look to get three points from each match.
“I’m happy to have made my debut and it’s good for my development and I enjoyed the experience.”
Aaron Pierre lashed in Town’s first but Jevani Brown’s sublime finish levelled things up and despite Junior Morias restoring the lead, George Taft’s header and then David Amoo’s injury-time winner broke Northampton hearts.
Despite the crushing nature of his side’s defeat at the Abbey Stadium though, the mere taste of playing League football was a valuable one.
“All the boys were great,” continued Pollock. “They gave me encouragement, telling me what to do and giving little tips on where to be and stuff like that – everyone was really good.
“I think it massively befitted me to play in the game.
“It’s the biggest thing I’ll learn and just the experience of men’s football in the professional game is important.
“I didn’t have any family at this game unfortunately but hopefully I get another opportunity, hopefully at Sixfields where the family can come and watch.
“I’ve still got a long way to go but this is just the start.”
Pollock will be hoping he gets another taste of the action on Saturday, when the Cobblers host Morecambe at the PTS Academy Stadium (ko 2pm)