Didn't read the script

MARK Bartholomew may be a children's author but he couldn't have written the script for his junior football side any better himself.

MARK Bartholomew may be a children's author but he couldn't have written the script for his junior football side any better himself.

Having taken over Elmswell Hawks' new under-8s side at the start of the 2007/8 season, Bartholomew suffered a dismal start to his coaching career as the village side went on to win just one game in their entire first season in the Community Youth Football League.

However, after making the switch to the Waveney Mid-Suffolk League this season, the now under-9 Elmswell side have completed a remarkable turnaround by losing just one game in the whole season.

The result of which is that Elmswell have been crowned champions with a game to spare with a formidable goal difference of plus 41 from ten games In addition, the Hawks are also in their League Cup final, which will be played on the day of the FA Cup final.

Bartholomew, who has had a trilogy of fictional children's books published, said: “I'm umming and arring whether the next book should be based around a football team now.

“There are not many children's novels out about sport so I definitely think there could be an untapped market.

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The only problem is that sports fiction is rarely as exciting as the real thing!”

Bartholomew, a history teacher at Stowmarket Middle School, explained how his rollercoaster journey with Elmswell first began.

He said: “My son had decided to join the side and, when all the parents got together, my wife volunteered me as manager!

“At the beginning of our first season we were losing games by as much as 11-0.

“After the season we had it was amazing that the lads didn't drop their heads.

“When the second season started the players just seemed to gel.

I tried to get them playing in different positions and suddenly I had a couple of players who wanted to play in defence and a goalkeeper who wanted to be in goal.

“Sometimes we have had to be a little bit more competitive in our approach in that I have put my best team out on a more regular basis and that has not always gone down well with all of the boys.

“It has been a steep learning curve for them, but an important one as well because that is what life is like.

“It is difficult getting the right balance at that age between making sure they enjoy themselves but also trying to get them to play good football.

“It makes it worthwhile when you see the smiles on all their faces when they are winning though, especially in the close games.”

Bartholomew now hopes to replicate his football fairytale with his year eight side at Stowmarket Middle School. He said: “My school team has had a couple of good hidings recently so it would be nice if I could start winning with them too.”

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