THE surprise of all surprises has transformed a junior football team who have turned the form table upside down and stormed to the title.
Hartlepool’s Throston Tornados under 13s were shy on confidence, luck and results having won just one game in more than two years.
That was until they appeared on ITV’s Surprise, Surprise, where they took penalties on the hallowed Wembley turf, met the full England team and had a training session with former star Robbie Savage.
Since then, the young footballers have remarkably turned their form around and stormed to the Teesside Junior Football Alliance division 6 title, hitting the net a staggering 106 times in the process.
And there is no such thing as resting on their laurels, delighted manager Chris Forsyth has now set his in-form team the target of back-to-back promotions when they kick off next season.
Chris, 42, who lives in the Throston area of Hartlepool, admitted it was difficult to see where the team’s next result was going come from during their horrendous run of form at the end of last year.
But after Chris successfully applied for his team to appear on the ITV hit show in November, the youngsters came back to Hartlepool with a new lease of confidence, and set about making their weekly defeats a thing of the past.
“The kids have come on leaps and bounds,” said proud Chris.
“The show just seemed to bring them all together, it transformed their confidence and they’ve been fantastic since.”
To put the icing on the cake for Chris, his son, Ben, 13, picked up the league’s golden boot as the top scorer, hitting the net 39 times in 20 games and helping the team to 17 victories and just three defeats.
The High Tunstall College of Science student, said: “Going on Surprise, Surprise was brilliant and it just gave us a lot more confidence.
“After that when we went in to matches we weren’t letting our heads go down straight away and we managed to get a few good results and go from there.”
All of the team’s players are former pupils at Throston Primary School and to mark their appearance on the show and their fantastic performances since then, staff decided to put up a plaque in school in recognition of the youngsters’ efforts.
Headteacher Mark Atkinson said: “It’s absolutely tremendous what the youngsters have achieved.
“To think they went on the show as a boost because they were struggling quite a bit on the pitch, it’s done exactly that and more.
“It’s brilliant to see they have turned their results around and to win the league like they have done is outstanding.”