MATTY Derbyshire is tipped to be the next Brett Ormerod - and make a rapid rise from non-league football into the Football League.
The Great Harwood striker has scored 18 goals so far this season - and he didn't play in the first few matches. Like Ormerod, who attracted attention when he played for Accrington Stanley before moving onto Blackpool and Premier club Southampton, Derbyshire is causing a stir.
And the 17-year-old found the back of the net with a wonder goal on Saturday in the 2-2 draw against Ashton with a host of scouts looking on. He took the ball on one foot, looked like he would shoot before leaving the defender for dead. He got the ball on his other foot to get passed another man before eventually firing a superb solo effort into the net. He was also brought down for the penalty which Paul Mashiter converted - although ten men Ashton battled back.
Manchester United have watched him twice, Burnley a number of times along with scouts believed to be from Bolton and Everton - and they couldn't have failed to be impressed by the pace and trickery of the teenager. But Derbyshire, who has just picked up the NWCL Division Two Player of the Month award for September, is just taking it all in his stride.
"The lads are setting the goals up for me on a plate," he said modestly. "But I don't like to know when scouts are watching me. I have heard everyone talking about it but I just want to play football. I love scoring goals."
Derbyshire ended up at the NWCL Division Two side by accident last year. Darwen FC's youth team moved en bloc over to Great Harwood.
"We didn't mind," said Harwood boss John Hughes. "It gave us a lot of young lads to work with and a lot of them were good ones, like Matty. Matty is a sensible, quiet lad. He closes up if he knows there are scouts watching but he has just got to do what he does best.
"He is lightning quick, has all-round ability and he can hit a ball so well. There's no pressure on him from us. We want to keep him as long as we can!"
Derbyshire, who played for his school, Our Lady's and St John's, and Blackburn United junior sunday league side before that, made his debut ironically against Darwen last season. "I enjoyed that as I came on and scored. I guess I got some revenge for them letting us go," he said.
He helped a young Harwood side finish last season on a high with an eight game unbeaten run which took them to sixth in the league. That is when he began to shine and he has continued to be the star of the show this season. And his goals are all different.
"Some are taps in, some solo runs, some over the top and some with my head. But it is mainly down to team-work," said Derbyshire.
"It is quality here - the team are good and the coaching is quality. I have been looked after and brought on gentley. John Hughes has put a lot of faith in me and so that's why I try and score goals. This league is hard because it is physical but I am certainly enjoying it."
Derbyshire works as a YTS at Blackburn Rovers Community Office which he got after work experience. He does enjoy that but his ambition is to play full-time football.
"That would be a dream come true, it would mean the world to me."
Meanwhile Harwood extended their unbeaten run this season to 10 games thanks to a 3-0 win over Blackpool Mechanics on Tuesday night - and the three points moved them up to third in the league. And the star was that man Derbyshire again who scored a hat-trick.
"All quality goals - what more can you say about him!" said Hughes. "I took him off as we don't want him to score more than three!"
Harwood chief Hughes, despite his side's unbeaten run, missed out on Manager of the Month as that went to Colne's Nigel Coates.
- HARWOOD are at home to Oldham Town on Saturday (ko 3pm). As yet, they are without a midweek game.