Two Ashington-born teenagers who both harbour hopes of being professional footballers are set to play for Gateshead College U18s against Gloucestershire-based Hartpury in the final of the English Schools Football Association Colleges Cup.
The showpiece fixture will be staged at the Keepmoat Stadium, home of Football League One club Doncaster Rovers, on Wednesday, March 9.
And for Wansbeck-based duo Lewis Robson and Callum Johnston, former students at Ashington High School Sports College, the day cannot come around quick enough.
Full back Robson is studying sports and exercise science whilst Johnston, who trains with Gateshead U19s, is on a sports massage course.
Gateshead booked their place in the final after recovering from being a goal down to claim an eye catching 3-1 at Wyke Sixth Form College from Hull.
“It was end to end and we had some very good chances to score,” said Robson.
“Our keeper Sam Bell pulled off some really good saves at 0-0, and so too did the Wyke stopper.
“When they took the lead on the hour mark we were on the back foot, but we never gave up and after we levelled with an own goal, further strikes from Harry Jewitt and Matthew Hamilton wrapped up our win.
“Ninety-two college sides enter the competition so it’s a terrific feat for us to get through to the final.
“We were all elated and I personally had never experienced a feeling like it in my career, but there is still hard work to come for us as we face a Hartpury side who are the current holders.”
Johnston has recovered from a back injury which forced him to miss the semi-final.
He said: “It was a blow to be ruled out of the semi, but we have been dominating games and with the team we have got, I expected us to get through to the final.”
Johnston who had trials at Newcastle United U14s then spent a year at Middlesbrough, added: “I’m really looking forward to the final.
“The occasion will be up there with when I played for England Boys Club U16s in a tournament in Ireland.”
Gateshead College lead coach John Gamble, a former Blyth Spartans defender, said: “It’s a great achievement to get to the final and hopefully we can go on and win it, but it will be a tough game against one of the best football academy sides around.
“We have had great success in past years and a wealth of lads who have come through our ranks include David Carson, formerly with Ashington FC, who is now Blackburn Rovers U21 captain, whilst Jake Orrell is at Chesterfield and Shaun McDonald, Adam Wrightson and Joe Hales have all signed professional contracts with Gateshead.”
As for the two Ashington lads, Robson and Johnston, Gamble added: “Lewis is excellent and has developed into a really good footballer.
“He is technically good, a really good athlete, and in my opinion has the tools to push on.
“Callum has been at the forefront of being the best player in the college over the past couple of years.
“He spearheads our attack and has scored a lot of goals to get us where we are, and despite being a year younger, he plays for Gateshead U19s in the Northern Alliance League, but that’s how highly we rate him.
“Technically he is good, as is his attitude and I couldn’t recommend two better lads in this age group than Lewis and Callum.”