WHEN Accrington Stanley's youth team goalkeeper Martin Fearon got called into manager John Coleman's office last week he thought he was in trouble.
But instead the 16-year-old was told he was on the brink of fulfilling a long-term dream of playing professional football.
The Accrington fan, who lives on Pansy Street North in the town, signed up to a two-year scholarship at Stanley with the Fraser Eagle Education Programme after being released by Burnley FC's Centre of Excellence in January.
He thought this year would be all about reserve team football until he received a shock call-up to the first team last Thursday after the two first-team goalkeepers, Stuart Jones and Danny Alcock, suffered serious injuries.
Martin, who turns 17 in October, had high hopes of facing Cambridge United last Saturday in the Nationwide Conference in front of more than 2,000 fans.
In the end the manager called up two last-minute replacements so Martin was denied his chance but, after travelling on the fans' coach to previous matches, he got to travel on the team coach, stay in the team hotel and mix with the heroes he watches week in week out.
"It was unbelievable - a dream come true," said the former St Mary Magdalen's Primary School and Moorhead High School pupil.
"I was called into Coley's office on Thursday morning and I wasn't sure what I had done. I knew Danny had broken his arm but I didn't know that Stuart had been forced to retire from football with an ankle injury.
"I went into the office and thought I was in trouble so I couldn't believe it when he told me he wanted me to travel down with the first team to Cambridge. Then he took me to the ground to sign Conference forms.
"He said he had a belief in me after I played a reserve game alongside him last season. I texted all my friends as soon as I got home!''
So, instead of queueing for the Ultras coach on Saturday morning, as he usually did alongside his friends, he got on the posh Fraser Eagle coach with all the players on Friday morning.
He said: "It was weird as only four of us got on at Accrington and then we picked the others up. It was unbelievable but they all made me feel really welcome. I chatted to Gary Roberts, Coley and Cookey (Paul Cook) on the coach.
"We stopped for food and the hotel was really nice. Everyone made me feel like one of them and helped me settle in.''
Martin, who spent six years at Burnley, shared a room with Paul Harrison, the keeper Coleman signed last Thursday who used to play at Liverpool.
But he said the best experience was warming-up with Harrison and Bertrand Bossu, the French keeper signed on Friday night who denied Martin a place on the bench.
He said: "That was worth it alone. I knew the night before that I wouldn't be playing as Coley said he had signed another keeper. I was gutted but chairman Eric Whalley came over and said I would get my chance.
"I loved it on the pitch. The fans were behind the goal, singing my name, and I even signed a couple of autographs.''
Martin also got first-hand experience of a Coleman half-time team talk - which, as they were losing 3-0, would have been more like a blast.
"It was different'', he said. "It is a real eye-opener. The fans don't know what goes on at half-time behind the scenes and the lads certainly knew they hadn't played well.''
Martin might not have got his dream debut last Saturday but he might get his chance tomorrow at home to Exeter as Bossu, who was on loan, has returned to Darlington.
"I will be confident if I have to play,'' said Martin. "I have been training with the first team over the last few days so I have got to know them well. I will be nervous but I will just do my best.
"It is great knowing all the fans are behind me.''
Manager Coleman has no doubts that Martin will do well: "I've seen and even played with Martin in the reserves last year. He's a confident keeper and I am sure he has a bright future ahead of him, hopefully for a good few years here at Accrington.''
Martin lives with his dad Tom, mum Linda and 11-year-old brother Matt.