Former Blue set for Premier League debut
AUTHOR: JAMES BURCH
The Daily Mirror reported on Thursday, that new Sunderland manager Dick Advocaat would give wonder kid Duncan Watmore his professional debut on Saturday away at West Ham United.
After Paolo Di Canio and Gustavo Poyet's regimes at the Stadium of Light have frozen the hot prospect out.
Some of you may not know who Watmore is, despite his stint playing for the Blues during the 2011/2012 season.
Fear not, I will set the scene for you all...
It is the 27th November 2011…Gigg Lane is packed to the rafters as FC United are entertaining Altrincham FC for a prestigious FA Trophy clash and despite the cold Mid-November weather, the atmosphere in the ground is red hot.
As the scoreboard ticks on, the time hits seventy five minutes and up jumps a fresh faced teenager off the bench, bounding energetically onto the field, to get his first taste of action on the ‘big stage.’
Duncan Watmore was the name of the aforementioned substitute. Fresh from schoolboy action for Cheadle Hulme School and Altrincham FC Youth, the winger played the final quarter hour against the Red Rebels and even in that short space of time stood out like no other.
As the winger fitted effortlessly into the Robins style of play, operating in a smooth cohesive manner playing against players twice his age, you could tell even from that early stage, that the winger would go on to big things.
Before this event even occurred, Watmore had been on loan at Shawbridge, home of Clitheroe Football Club, as manager Carl Garner had gave him his first chance to play senior football, in the seventh tier of English football.
The man that put Watmore in touch with Garner four years ago was Altrincham FC coach Ian Senior, who has subsequently played a huge part in Watmore’s development from non-league hopeful to premier league whizz kid.
As Senior reminisces about seeing the current Sunderland player burst onto the scene against FC United.
“Duncan came on as a substitute against FC, following his loan spell at Clitheroe. We were getting beat in the FA Trophy clash so the gaffer threw him on.
“Even from his fifteen minutes you could see he had something special. He had the lot, two quick feet, pace and unreal skill.”
After his debut, the 21 year old went from strength to strength. Making his first league start against Histon and opening his goal scoring account for the side on his second league appearance against Gainsborough Trinity.
Having monitored his career from day one, Senior knows what it takes to reach the top and sees that the Manchester born midfielder has what it takes.
“He grew of age in six to seven weeks in the Blue Square North. Duncan went from a nobody to somebody that was being ear marked by opposition teams as a key player. Teams were lining up to defend against him but he never let it get him down.
“He’d get himself up after every foul and keep going, he took tough challenges and learnt from it. He really is a credit to himself and his family on and off field. Even though he’s at Sunderland he’s maintained his studies and has something to full back on, although I’m sure he’ll never have too.”
After time playing for Altrincham, Senior received a call from Clitheroe manager Carl Garner about a possible loan move and Watmore moved to BB7 to continue his growth as a player, picking up the man of the match award on his Blues debut during a 1-1 draw against Mossley on the 24th January 2012.
“Carl spoke to me and asked if Altrincham had any players he could loan. I spoke to George Heslop and Duncan’s name came up.
"No disrespect to Clitheroe or the division, but even at a young age Duncan stood out head and shoulders above every other player on the pitch. He took everything in his stride and did great. Everytime I watched him at Shawbridge I could tell he was set for a career in football at a higher level than Clitheroe and even Altrincham.”
Having plied his trade in non-league football, before moving for an undisclosed fee to Sunderland. This weekend may be the biggest of Watmore’s young career if he does make his Premier League debut at the age of 21.
However, his former coach is not worried that he will get too big for his boots and instead can’t wait to see the exciting winger get his chance playing on the world stage watched by millions.
“He’s yet to play in the Premiership so he still has plenty to prove. If you watch AltyTV you’ll see his compilations and see he is a joy to behold when playing. If he gets going he could take the footballing world by storm.
"If it happens (his debut) I know everyone at Altrincham and Clitheroe will be chuffed. Clitheroe played a massive part in his development. Duncan has got to go into games the way he always does, in a level headed manner.
"He will be focusing on making his debut and then we’ll see how he does after ten, twenty and thirty games. He’s not someone that will play one game and say he’s going to play for England. All we can say at the moment is we are all so proud of him and he deserves all the success he gets.”