Our #MyJourneySoFar series returns this week as we catch up with midfielder Scott Pollock to find out his career path to date…
Developing a passion for the game and idolising players…
“I started playing football quite late compared to a lot of other people. My Dad was a good golfer and he always wanted me to go down that route to begin with, so I only really played football in the playground at primary school. I know a lot of people join Sunday league teams when they around eight or nine years old, but I didn’t start until I was eleven or twelve which was relatively late compared to other people.
“From then, I started playing Sunday League and was in quite a good team; Grange Park Rangers. We used to win quite a lot and went a few seasons unbeaten, winning the leagues and trophies each year. From there, I started to progress and had a trial at Leicester City. I trialled both as an outfield player and as a goalkeeper. I played outfield for my local team but in year 5 and 6 I played in goal for my school, so I did a bit of both and enjoyed both roles. Nothing came of the trial at Leicester and I was told I was too small to be a goalkeeper so that’s when I decided I was going to concentrate on being an outfield player.
“From there, I joined the Northampton Town Elite Squad which shadows the academy team. We’d play against and train with the academy teams which was good for our development, and I played Sunday League alongside that. Then I joined the Football & Education Programme at Northampton Town, and then I had trials with Crystal Palace and the Northampton Town under 18’s. Thankfully I impressed for the youth team and progressed on to the first-team.
“To begin with, I looked up to Ronaldinho in his Barcelona days, around 2006 time. I remember there was a viral video going around of him where he kept hitting the crossbar in the Nike advert. That was one of the first YouTube videos I saw, and I had a Brazil shirt with Ronaldinho 10 on the back. I also liked Cristiano Ronaldo when he was in the Premier League with Manchester United. He was someone I aspired to be like at the time.”
Watching the Cobblers as a season ticket holder and getting an opportunity with Hashtag United…
“The first season I had a season ticket was the year we got to Wembley in the play-offs. Obviously, it wasn’t a great ending but the season itself was good to see, and I also have good memories of the promotion season in 2015/16.
“I saw an application video online which would’ve meant the winner would become part of the Hashtag United squad. At the time they were a team that played their matches online, and from there they opened up an academy series which was a bit like ‘The Apprentice’ but football based where you’d have to get through certain rounds. In total, there was 20,000 online applicants and only 200 of those got picked to go down to a trial in London.
“Luckily, I was one of those that got chosen to go and trial. The first round was an 11-a-side trial, the second round progressed into different games and skills challenges and a later round was in an interview style. The final round was a game against a guy called Jack, and luckily I got the most amount of votes to win the competition and from there I got a contract to go into Hashtag first-team.
“There was quite a lot of travelling involved for the games, and our home games were at New River on a nice astro-turf based pitch on White Hart Lane in London. We weren’t in a league, so a lot of our away games were quite far away. We played games in Jersey, Glasgow, Spain, different Premier League training grounds and a few other places which was a good experience.
“It was a great learning curve for me because it was like living the life of a professional footballer in terms of having travel sorted, the number of fans at our games and things like that. I got to play at Wembley as well which was quite surreal, it still feels like it didn’t even happen, in a way. To say that I’ve played with and against the likes of Steven Gerrard, Emile Heskey, Robbie Fowler, David James, Robbie Savage and William Gallas is good because I grew up watching them. The attendance was 34,000 so that was an amazing experience.
Joining the Northampton Town Football & Education Programme and working my way up and going out on loan…
“There’s a lot of players that either don’t get into academies or are released from academies at an early age. I was never in the Northampton Town academy growing up, but this option gave me another chance to work my way up. There’s a link into the youth team, we played and trained with them a couple of times so there’s always a chance for them to notice you. Alongside that we were doing our education as well which is a Level 3 Diploma BTEC in Sport, which is obviously useful for anyone looking for a career in the industry.
“I then signed with the youth team and playing regularly with them gave me confidence. We had a good team that year, we had a strong season and nearly went unbeaten. We won the league and got to the third round of the FA Youth Cup, so it was a good step for my development. The coaches helped a lot and it was great to have that spell which involved training with the first-team a couple of times, too.
“I went out on loan to St Neots and that’s something I’d highly recommend to any player in the youth level if they’re not playing or training within the first-team. St Neots were at step three which was a good enough level to help with my development both as a player and as a man. I definitely needed experience in men’s football as we were winning most weeks in the youth team, so it was important to test myself against players that were bigger, faster and stronger than I was.
Signing a professional contract and playing for my hometown team…
“Signing professionally was literally a dream come true for me. It’s something I would’ve never expected to have achieved when I was younger having not been in an academy, so it goes to show it’s never too late to give up on what you want.
“This season has been as much as I could’ve asked for so far really. Sometimes it’s hard to play week-in week-out when you’re a young professional and the team are aiming for promotion, and with a lot of new signings last summer it makes the competition for places even stronger. Luckily I’ve been given opportunities and hopefully I’ve done well when I’ve been given the chance and we can’t wait to get back playing when the time is right.”