A nervous night for Hartlepool Utd’s James

LFE chief executive Alan Sykes (left) with Hartlepool United's Luke James who won the LFE Apprentice of the Year Award for League One at the Football League Awards
LFE chief executive Alan Sykes (left) with Hartlepool United's Luke James who won the LFE Apprentice of the Year Award for League One at the Football League Awards
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SPEAKING to 650 guests at a glitzy awards ceremony? A driving test? The pressure of playing in front of 5,000 at Victoria Park?

Which of these terrifies Luke James the most?

“Playing football is easy, I love that,” said the League One Apprentice of the Year, who collected his prize in London on Sunday night.

“I was nervous for my driving test and probably didn’t think I was going to pass.

“But speaking to all the guest on Sunday night – that was awful.

“I get so nervous speaking in front of people, I thought I was going to pass out.”

Not even a video montage of hi wonder strikes calmed the nerves of the unassuming 18-year-old.

“When I first heard my name as the winner I felt brilliant because I didn’t expect it – it was shock more than anything,” explained the Amble-born striker.

“Then they played a video of myself with some goals and nice interviews with the gaffer (John Hughes) and Micky Barron talking about me.

“I was supposed to wait for that to finish but I jumped up and went towards the stage.

“I was told to sit down and went bright red, which didn’t help me.

“But it was unbelievable.

“I honestly went there not expecting to win.

“It was just a wonderful moment and up there with the best nights of my life, I loved it.

“At the same time it was the most nervous I’ve ever been.”

James’ prize was reward for a breakthrough year which saw him become Hartlepool United’s youngest-ever scorer with a wonder strike against Rochdale last January.

Back then he walked away from Victoria Park a hero, only to spend the next couple of hours travelling by train to his family home in Northumberland.

That trek, however, is a thing of the past, the talented teen having now passed his driving test.

“I can’t tell you how much of a relief it was to pass my test,” laughed the likeable youngster.

“It costs a lot less money now as well because myself and Nathan Buddle (Pools academy player) are sharing the driving back to Amble.

“It’s not just that but it’s so much better for your recovery after games and training.

“Having to wait in the freezing weather for trains wasn’t ideal, not knowing if it’s going to come or even if you’re going to get a seat.”