September 14, 2020
A STUDENT at Northern Education Trust Dyke House Academy has proven how “hard work pays” off by securing a contract with a Football League club.
Joshua Bell, who has just entered into his final year at the Hartlepool school, has been rewarded with a two-year deal at Harrogate Town after shining on trial.
The 15-year-old was determined to build on the progress he made last season by regularly training with fellow student Will Cain, who plays for Sunderland, while schools have been closed during the coronavirus.
When football resumed he was invited down to York City and Harrogate and could have signed for either until he decided to choose the latter.
“I am buzzing, really proud of myself,” said Joshua.
“From where I have come from in Year 7, when I was that little fat kid in midfield, I have worked hard in lockdown with Will and coach Tommy Connor to get to this point. Before that Graeme Clark has been a fantastic coach for me.
“I excelled throughout lockdown. I worked hard when everyone else was at home sitting on the Playstations or whatever. It’s hard work over talent in my eyes. I’m speechless.
“I was at Hartlepool last season. Then the coronavirus came along. I went on trial instead. I played really well against Darlington in my first game for Harrogate.
“Everyone is buzzing for me. My family all love football and I am the first person to get to a football club like that in our family. I’m so proud, I just want to continue to improve.”
Joshua has not only impressed on the football pitch at Dyke House, he has also caught the eye in the classrooms and the corridors with his approach to education.
Dyke House Principal Adam Palmer said: “Josh has been relentless in the work he has put in in order to develop his talent. He is the epitome of hard work and has got the rewards.
“In almost every assembly I do I say to the children ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’. Josh epitomises that in school, in lessons and on a football pitch.
“His commitment to be the best version of himself in everything he does has paid off.”
Joshua has played for Pools Youth for the last seven years. He was keen to see how high he can go so took up opportunities to go on trial at York, Harrogate and Spennymoor after leaving Hartlepool.
He impressed and Harrogate’s Under-17s boss John Walsh was quick to get the Football League newcomers to make an offer. He has come a long way.
“My first ever training session I didn’t want to go, my mam Karsha pulled me out the car and I loved it,” said Joshua.
“I’ve been with Pools Youth since I was seven and my dad, Michael, has coached me. I had to leave last week. It was a bit sad.
“But last season at Hartlepool was the turning point for me. That gave me the basics of what it feels like to be involved with a professional club. Now I am ready for this next challenge.”
He knows nothing is guaranteed in football. Joshua, whose brothers Luke and Oliver also play the game, added: ”My dad says to take everything seriously. Whatever happens after school I want to do something with sport – physio, sports journalist, anything like that.
“Football-wise I want at least one minute in a pro game, I don’t want to get carried away. Then I will go from there. I can’t wait to get going.”