TEENAGE starlet Jack Baldwin will be playing in front of his very own fan club at the Colchester Community Stadium, writes CRAIG HOPE.
It was just 12 months ago that the Kent-born ace was at Eastbury Comprehensive School studying for his A-level exams.
Now he is a professional footballer and, tomorrow, pupils from his old school will get the chance to see what Baldwin has made of himself in such a short space of time.
“It’s only about 45 minutes from home for my friends and family,” said the 18-year-old.
“My parents will be going and one of my old PE teachers, Wayne Baldacchino, is taking a year-nine football team.
“I’ve been to Colchester’s stadium with them already because I went to see them play in a national cup final last year.
“So it’ll be great to have them there and I think it shows the lads that someone from their school has gone on to better things.
“I still feels like just yesterday I was in year nine – it’s been a rollercoaster and it’s all gone so quick.
“But I’ve got so much to thank my school for.
“Wayne was the manager of my football teams at school and I’ve got a close bond with him.
“I was playing with my mates until I was 13 and then went on through the school teams, so they gave me my football education really.
“Wayne himself gave me the confidence to believe that I can do it, and here I am.”
Baldwin is almost certain to start against the U’s with Peter Hartley missing because of suspension.
And he went on: “It’s nice to know I’m probably starting at centre-back because you can plan ahead for what sort of game you want to play.
“It’s a totally different game at the back and your concentration has to be spot on at all times.
“The gaffer pointed out how I didn’t start too well at Yeovil but I’d like to think I improved going back into defence.
“It’s good being alongside Sam Collins as well because he’s experienced and helps you through.”
And Baldwin has revealed that he could have been lining up against Pools tomorrow afternoon.
“When I was 16 playing for Ebbsfleet there was a thing where someone from Colchester was supposed to be watching me,” he explained.
“He was meant to have a word with the manager there but nothing ever came of it.”