London Road was brimming with pride as Peterborough United played out the final stages of their FA Cup win over Exeter last weekend.
Chairman Darragh MacAnthony was thrilled to see three graduates from the Posh Academy - Kgosi Ntlhe, Joe Newell and Tom Conlon - in first-team action at the same time, as was manager Darren Ferguson.
And their satisfaction was matched by midfielder Conlon, who was making his Posh debut at the age of 17, and his parents who watched their son deliver a cultured cameo.
Conlon’s skills might well have got him noticed anyway, but his tale also proves that good fortune plays a part in the career progression of young players.
“I was at my hometown club Stoke City for nine years,” Conlon, a left-footed, free-kick specialist like his Stoke hero Charlie Adam, admitted.
“But then they released me at the age of 16 and I started playing for a local club, Newcastle Town.
“I played for them in an early round of an FA Youth Cup match against Stratford and someone from Peterborough was watching.
“The club then got in touch, I had a three-day trial and they signed me on a scholarship.
“A year and a bit later and I’ve played in the first-team which I never thought would happen, not that quickly anyway.
“It’s an amazing turnaround for me and I’m still buzzing after playing for so long on my debut.
“My mum and dad saw that game so to get 25 minutes was great. My dad was also at the Dagenham game and even though I only got a few minutes in that one, it was still memorable.
“I’ve landed on my feet coming to Peterborough as the manager gives the youngsters a chance.”
Ferguson also won’t let Conlon’s arrival in his first-team squad go to the player’s head.
The 17 year-old was due to play for Posh in an under 21 fixture at Bristol City on Thursday (14 November), but he is expected to travel to Walsall for a League One fixture on Monday.
Ferguson said: “Tom is a good player and he’s done very well in his time with us.
“I like him a lot which is why he has been the first-team squad.
“I’ve never let someone’s age stop me picking them.
“If they are good enough they are old enough and it was good to see three players from our youth team on the pitch at the same time last week.
“It’s important for a club like ours to develop our own young players.”
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