Two Months In… The Transition to Freelance

On the first day of the rest of my life I played golf. I thought it would make a statement, a symbolic act of how I’d spend my life from now on. My girlfriend laughed.

Later that week I returned home sunburnt after an afternoon spent watching county cricket at Lords. Again, she laughed, but a little less. There was also a hint of annoyance in there.

Then, the moment any goodwill deserted me. She decided to work from home one morning, only to find that her freelance boyfriend was still in bed at 10.30.

Since then, I’ve had to do a lot more work around the house. No matter how often I tell her I need to read in bed for research, her sympathy has remained at an all time low. 

In many ways, being freelance feels like being back at university. For a few hours each week I have to leave the house to go and work, then for the rest of the time I’m left to my own devices. 

Much of my time is structured around sport. It’s the main constant in my life – whether that’s cricket matches, futsal training or gym sessions. 

More of my time is spent with mates. Without full time work, I no longer feel guilty about skipping an evening of writing in favour of a social event.

If anything, I’m now writing less. Previously I’d managed to get myself into a routine of working my office job from 9-6 (though rarely making it in for 9), writing for an hour at lunch, then juggling the four different manuscripts I was working on all evening until the early hours. I learnt to survive on five or six hours of sleep a night.

It didn’t take long for my body to adapt once more to needing my university staple of nine hours a night. I feel much healthier for it: less run down, more proactive, more free. The extra exercise helps. Every day I’m now able to run, go to the gym or practise yoga – luxuries I could rarely afford in full time work. 

There are problems with relying on freelance writing. Mainly it’s that the money is so irregular. An advance comes in that needs to last for months. An article is commissioned and then nothing else comes up. Schools cancel visits. So to lessen the burden, I’ve taken on bits of work in other areas.

Currently, I’m committed to seven hours of coaching and half a day of social media management a week. That pretty much covers my rent, and the rest of my time is then split between writing and helping to grow Floodlit Dreams. 

The benefit of having few regular commitments is being able to say yes to opportunities at short notice. Lots of cool stuff has come up, but much of that cool stuff has failed to materialise. There’s even been a chance to have another crack at professional football in a foreign country. I think my girlfriend is warming to the idea…

With the money that I’ve invoiced for so far, I can certainly say that going freelance has been successful. The only trouble is that money invoiced doesn’t necessarily equal money paid. I’m guessing that a lot of my time this year is going to be spent chasing up unpaid work.

As it stands, however, I’ll be able to give freelancing a go for a second year. There are things I miss about working full time. I miss working with mates. Miss absorbing others’ creativity. Miss being inspired by colleagues and their work. Miss hearing about their successes and all of the other little things that make up their lives.

But every time I think back to the social side of the office, I’m reminded of the routine, the same tube journey at the same time, the same office politics, the same desk every day, the same client relationship.

Though there are plenty of things I miss, there aren’t enough of them to make me want to go racing back. 

I hope this new life really is the rest of my life. All I need now is a midweek golf partner…


What I’ve Learnt From Losing

In more optimistic times

Season 2018/19 will be remembered for one thing: it’s the first year in my life where the team I’ve played for has finished bottom of the league.

As soon as the season started, we knew we were up against it. Having relocated to Southend, we had a new coach, a new set-up and a whole new group of players, with just a handful left over from the previous season. There were talented individuals, but too few of us were playing collectively.

In truth, we never really adapted.

There were some bruising early defeats. We were losing heavily against teams we should have been competing with, perhaps even beating.

Our new coach left in November, followed by a period of instability. Players followed him out of the door. The club was being pulled in different directions. 

We were a mess.

When you lose, you learn the true character of people. Some moved on naturally. Others who weren’t up for the fight left. And those who stayed showed themselves to have real character. They were the ones still happy to train, even with six players and no coach. The ones happy to travel to games with kit missing (thanks to Manchester for lending us spares), no club staff and no manager. Some of them happy to sit on the bench all game just to join up with the squad and keep team spirit high. One of them even happy to miss out on playing the start of a game while my parents rushed to the nearest shopping centre to buy an extra pair of match socks.

Newcastle away: a very long way

As the months went by we still weren’t playing fully as a collective. But off the court the team was more of a collective than ever before. 

It ended up being one of my most enjoyable seasons to date.

That’s not to say I like losing. I hate losing. But when you’re losing with those who give everything, who show their desire to make the best of a bad situation, then every small victory is magnified.

We weren’t the worst team in the league. We have many top players. But sometimes things just don’t work out. When you get into a losing streak it’s hard to get out of it. A chance will come along in a game and you believe it may be the only one. You stop taking risks. You become too safe, too scared to concede. Then, when you do concede first, it feels like a mountain to overcome. When you score first you wonder how long it will last.

The cycle repeats itself. 

All season we lacked a goalscorer. With that extra streak of ruthlessness, we’d have done okay – probably mid-table.

But that’s another thing about losing. Every game becomes a ‘what if?’ What if we’d have made the most of our early dominance? What if we’d pressed our opponents from the start? What if we’d scored any one of the five penalties missed during the game (cheers Cambridge). 

The ‘what ifs’ can’t get on top of you. Losing teaches you to move on, to look past what has happened and focus on what’s to come.

Attention now turns to 2019/20. I don’t want to suffer another season of defeat. I won’t suffer another season of defeat. But I don’t for one second regret the season I’ve just had.


Making a Passion a Job

I never aspired to be a social media manager. It’s just something that I fell into. But once you’re in that cycle of relying on a job, it’s hard to break out of it – especially when it takes you five years of writing to earn what you make in a month as a social media manager.

A few years ago I started exploring the possibility of cutting back on work to focus more on my passion. At the time I was working with a former footballer on their book, and felt that if I made the proposal compelling enough I’d be able to at least take a sabbatical from work.

The project fell through. An offer was made but quashed by the company’s lawyer, who feared of libel. It was frustrating, but my desire to try and make it as a writer was unaffected. I’d just need to find a new project.

I took a new job. It was still working in social media – for a less interesting client – but the increased salary on offer would allow me to save up more money to give writing a go in the near future.

Then Brexit happened, and that near future became a lot closer. The company that paid my salary was on the news every five minutes warning of how catastrophic a no deal Brexit would be. Some dismissed their claims as ‘Project Fear’. It was anything but. Rumours of redundancies started spreading around the office.

All the while I’d been putting the ingredients in place to commit fully writing. I published a children’s book to allow me to give workshops in primary schools. I found an agent to get me talks. I networked, met new people. And by chance I came into contact with two of the biggest YouTubers in the world.

Listening to their story inspired me. They’d poured everything into their videos over a four year period and made no more than £2,000. Then they hit a wave and blew up.

As I heard more, I began to see further parallels in our journeys.

I had to give writing a go.

The next week, one of my colleagues quit her job. ‘What would I do if money wasn’t an object,’ she said. ‘Not this. I’m quitting to try and make it as a creative.’

Okay. I really had to give writing a go.

I planned to give myself another twelve months in my job. Save a bit more money. Network a bit more, get some more school visits in place.

Then the redundancies were announced. I was placed into the redundancy pool. My advertising agency was getting a much reduced fee from our affected client and actions had to be taken. My job was to be no more. Everything accelerated. 

If I don’t commit to writing now, I never will.

It ended up happening sooner than planned, and I don’t necessarily have enough in place to break even over the next twelve months, but I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come.

I’m still going to work in social media. I have some freelance projects lined up to ensure I at least make enough money to eat. Most importantly though, I’ll have more freedom to write. There’s a children’s book currently being considered by publishers, a ghostwritten project for a YouTuber, a football book due to be announced in the coming weeks, and not only that. My project with the two YouTubers who inspired me so much, who poured everything into their passion for four years for peanuts, is due out this autumn.

Let’s see what happens…


How to Fix Futsal

Over the last 10 years, futsal in this country has improved massively. Clubs have improved, the quality has improved, and the national team has also improved. 

But this season, for the first time, the league hasn’t improved. Helvecia pretty much won it in November and now all there is to play for is relegation. Fortunately, the FA has recognised this and is set to restructure everything this coming Friday. 

There are plenty of rumours flying about. I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen, but as a player I would like to see changes in a number of areas.

First of all, the league itself. I was a massive advocate of having one national Super League. I was also a massive advocate of getting rid of the play-offs and just having one winner. In the 2016/17 season with Baku, when the play-offs were still running, we were able to pretty much cruise through the season until March, having one training session a week and taking matches lightly in the knowledge that we only needed to finish in the top four of the South to make the play-offs. That season we reached the play-off final, and had I not missed a sitter in the last few minutes we could well have taken Helvecia to extra time – and maybe even won the league. That’s not right. You shouldn’t be able to cruise until March and still be crowned champion.

The alternative, though, is what we’re currently seeing. As far as I’m now concerned, it’s better to potentially have a less deserving winner and keep an element of competitiveness. 

Having one national Super League is also a massive commitment for players – especially when the vast majority are amateur. Leaving your house at 6am for an away trip to Newcastle and getting home at 11pm, then getting up for work the next day, isn’t easy. That’s just one reason why the quality of the top league has gone down since being made national (and as a player for the league’s bottom team, I’ve got to hold my hands up!). 

Of the teams currently playing in Division One, at least five could easily compete in the Super League. Whether this is because their players don’t fancy the travelling, I don’t know, but I would be keen to see the league split into North and South regions once again. One option could then be for the top four teams in each league to form their own mini league for the final round of fixtures, playing against each other to determine who wins overall. 

There has been a lot of talk about central venues. I’m not necessarily against central venues, but I don’t want to be visiting the same place every single week to play a game. One of the best things about the league in its current format is playing against teams like Salisbury and York who provide a decent matchday experience with dedicated fans.

I’d like to see the league designating community hubs rather than one central venue. There could then be one set of showpiece games each weekend. Say the FA booked York’s hall for the entire day, then played games at 12pm, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm featuring local clubs such as York, Bolton and Manchester Dev, plus women’s teams, so that the entire futsal community is represented. The next weekend the showpiece could take place at the Copperbox. At each showpiece weekend, there’ll be a film crew to stream games through the FA’s social media pages. At the moment, regularity is a big issue. Clubs can go weeks without playing at home and kick-off times often vary, making it hard to build connection with fans. Having such a set-up would ensure that every weekend fans all over the world can log onto social media and know that they can watch a top league futsal match at the same time.

Attracting fans through social media will therefore fall on the FA, while attracting fans through community work will continue to be the clubs’ responsibility. The loss of The Daily Futsal is one of the biggest steps backwards futsal has taken in this country. To move forward once more, the FA has to embrace the power of social media and its ability to bring new fans to the sport.

The six English players rule, along with proper youth coaching, has helped to develop the most promising young generation of futsal players this country has seen. It’s also seen some clubs stockpile English talent, making it harder for others to recruit players. 

Clubs should be incentivised to play English players. After all, the role of the league should be to develop players for the national team. However, I’m not sure clubs should be made to play more than six English players in a matchday squad. Instead, the FA could incentivise clubs to include more English players by offering free coaching courses or allocating funding to those who collaborate. To further increase development opportunities for young English players, the FA could abolish the transfer deadline for English players under the age of 23. As clubs inevitably suffer injuries and withdrawals toward the end of each season, opportunities will come up for those who show potential. 

Finally, I’d like to see the FA transform the FA Cup. There should be more opportunities for clubs outside the system – and for lower league clubs – to progress to play Super League teams. We shouldn’t start in the Last 16, with just four teams from outside the Super League battling to become champions. 

Whatever happens on Friday, the fact that the FA is willing to shake things up is a big positive. Like everyone else, I’m intrigued to see what is going to happen.


Living with Animals: An Inspiration for Writing

My gran isn’t a normal gran. She’s 86 and drives a car boot full of dead chicks around with her. She serves roadkill for Christmas dinner. She’s got an MBE. And she’s nursed thousands of animals back to health over the last 65 years.


Staying at Gran’s often has its challenges. You see, she runs a wildlife rehabilitation centre from her house, living alongside unwell animals and injured birds. As she’s aged she’s lightened her workload. Where once there were well over 300 animals and birds on her property, now there are fewer than 20.

Most of the animals and birds are wild. They haven’t been domesticated and that’s never part of my gran’s plans. She always intends to return them to the wild once they’re back to full health. The downside to this is that the animals and birds she takes in often behave like wild creatures. There was the badger that stole the vicar’s shoelaces, the squirrel that collected the tops from the milkman’s bottles each morning, the snake that made a habit of escaping. Poor Mrs Bellamy, who used to come and clean the house, was once found shrieking on a stool as the snake slithered around beneath her. She’d been there for hours.

When you live in a house with hundreds of animals and birds, you’re bound to pick up a few tales. My gran has always been a storyteller. She prides herself on speaking to anyone who’ll listen. And in 1972 she decided to put one of her tales to paper.

The Year of the Badger is the true story of Nikki the badger, who arrived on the Burkett doorstep in a terrible state. Nikki was taken in and cared for, developing human habits and a taste for mischief – much to the detriment of the rest of the village.

My gran sent her story out to publishing houses and took up an offer from Macmillan. That gave her the confidence to write even more. To date she’s had well over 100 books published. The Year of the Badger was read far and wide, with the film rights even being snapped up by Disney, resulting in the creation of a Japanese cartoon.


Ever since I was old enough to pick up a pen, my gran has encouraged me to write. We used to come up with silly stories, stuff like a footballer whose feet grew every time he kicked a ball, eventually becoming so big that he can no longer fit through the door and has to enter his house through the window.

When I turned 16, Gran decided it was time to get my name in print. By then she’d opened her own publishing house, Barney Books, and was writing a book called Hobby. She invited me to ‘edit’ the book and promised it would go down as a joint writing project. I ended up writing about two sentences, but as far as the readers were concerned I’d written half.

Just as Gran predicted, that publication led to more opportunities for me to have my work published.

Last year, Gran told me she would like The Year of the Badger to be updated for a modern audience. After all of the inspiration she has given me over the years, I felt it was the least I could do.

We’re crowdfunding to publish a revised edition of The Year of the Badger through Unbound. It’s been a slow start, but it’s great to work once again on a book with my gran. Together, we’re actively looking for contributors. If you enjoyed reading a very small part of my gran’s story, you can find out more about The Year of the Badger here: https://unbound.com/books/the-year-of-the-badger/.



Playing a (Book) Festival

If you haven’t noticed by now, I’ve spent the last few years trying to make my name as an author. Though I’ve had four books published, I still very much consider writing to be a side project at best. So when I was invited to talk at my first ever book festival, I jumped at the chance.

Here was my start on the road to becoming a well-known author. That’s what I was convinced of. There was even a small fee involved. Not only would it cover my expenses, it even left me with a bit extra. And it gave me the chance to sell my book to an estimated 1,200 pupils.

Without the luxury of a car, I crammed as many books as I could fit into a bag. 70 copies later I headed to the train station, my arms feeling like they were about to fall off with every step.

The Bowley Bookfest was taking place in Whalley, near Blackburn. Door-to-door it was four hours. After a tube, three trains and a car journey, I arrived at 11pm to a warm welcome and a plate of lasagne from the festival organiser, Victoria Gow. There were two other authors staying overnight, Mimi Thebo and Paul Cookson. They’ve both sold hundreds of thousands of books in their careers. I’ve sold slightly fewer. Still, it was a great chance to learn from two pros, and I made sure to take on board all of the advice they were only too willing to give me.


I soon found out there’s nothing glamorous about being an author on tour. There’s no tour bus, no groupies, and certainly no luxury accommodation. My room for the night, usually used by scouts, was just as basic as Victoria had warned me. Still, I had a whole room to myself. I even got to choose which of the two bunk beds I could sleep in.

My first session was scheduled for 9:15am. The school I was supposed to be presenting to didn’t show up. Next up I had a meet the author session. Nobody showed up. My pride suitably bruised, I held on for 15 minutes before deciding to head to the main hall to watch the festival’s star name, Chris Riddell, instead.

A crowd of well over 100 was hanging on his every word. An illustrator by trade, Chris drew as he spoke, a projector showing his every move. There was never a time when fewer than 20 hands were raised in the hope of being able to ask a question. As I watched on I realised that this was the standard I had to get to. He was a class act.

But I could only stay for ten minutes, because out of the corner of my eye I could see people – actual people – making their way to my area. Finally, my first group had arrived! I scuttled after them. ‘Are you Seth?’ their teacher asked with more than a hint of uncertainty. I managed to convince her, and two minutes later I was doing the talk I’d spent the previous evening preparing. A bit on aspirations, a bit on resilience, a bit on Brazil, a bit on writing, a reading from No Final Whistle, a Q&A, then a penalty shoot out to finish. It went well. Not Chris Riddell well, but well enough for nobody to heckle me. I even managed to get my first book sale of the day.


Then another group showed up. And another. Six of them, back to back. By the end of the day I was shattered yet buzzing at how things had turned out. The pupils had been brilliant, eager and willing. The sessions had gone well. I’d still only sold the one book but that didn’t matter too much. There was a book sale going on in the main hall where the majority of purchases would be taking place.

I soon received my next reality check. I’d sold another seven books in the main hall. Seven. To 1,200 pupils and a fair few teachers. In contrast, Chris Riddell had at least 100 people queuing to get their books signed. After the strength of his talk, I don’t blame them.

Another four hour journey home – this time carrying a mere 62 books in my bag – took my total effort to eight hours of travelling time to sell eight books. Had it been worth it?


The whole experience proved invaluable. I was able to learn from, and network with, some of the industry’s top writers. I met hundreds of keen pupils and tens of inspiring teachers. And, most importantly, it helped get my name out there.

In the days after the festival, I received two bookings from schools. I had contact from enthusiastic readers. The power of appearing at physical events became clear. It’s not about the sales. It’s always nice to sell books, but that’s not important. Making connections, learning from the best, that’s what is most beneficial for me at this stage.

If I keep on appearing at events, speaking to people and making connections, then maybe one day I’ll look back and laugh at the time I lugged 70 books up to Lancashire and only sold eight. After all, everyone’s got to start somewhere…


Thank you to Victoria Gow and the We Are Reading team for hosting an excellent event and providing such a warm welcome.


A New Season Starts

This weekend I’m due to start my tenth season in senior futsal. Over that time I’ve played for Loughborough, London United, and Baku/London City/Southend. And over that time I’ve seen the sport grow massively.

There are often negative comments on social media. Some believe that futsal in England is going backwards. To any who truly believe that to be the case, I invite them to watch any video from 10 years ago and see the difference. The reality is that futsal in England has never been in a better place.

In 2010, when the only crowd was the one painted on the wall

When I first started out, games were played in empty sports halls against teams that were lumped together from whoever fancied a run-out. A number of games were pointless. The question wasn’t whether we were going to win – it was whether we were going to win by five or ten goals. And this was for a mid-table team.

Now there are no easy games. You can no longer score 20 goals in a home fixture against Hereford, for example. Last season, my team beat Helvecia – arguably the best side in the league – yet lost against both teams that were relegated. If you have an off day in the Super League, you’re going to get punished. Which is exactly how it should be.

I can’t remember ever playing in front of a decent crowd in an away fixture back then. Now you have clubs such as Cambridge, Manchester, Salisbury and York that attract hundreds of fans to games. These clubs in particular have realised that you can’t develop a sport by being a team. You have to be a club.

With every season, more futsal clubs are becoming clubs, rather than teams. Development games take place before first team games, academy players come to watch fixtures, games are streamed online with the help of companies such as The Daily Futsal, and all the time the quality coming in to English futsal gets better. Clubs are raising awareness, which increases participation, which then ensures high quality young players are being developed.

When I started playing, participation amongst English players was low – especially in London. Not many people had heard of the sport, with universities being the starting point for many National League players. Now there are thriving academies up and down the country. The players that places such as ProFutsal, Finta, London Wizards and Bocas are producing will continue to push the overall quality of the league and ensure the sport continues to develop.

We’ve got a tough start to the coming season. We play Helvecia, who are probably favourites for the title. This is another positive change. Ten years ago the top few teams had a few token English players who might get a couple of minutes here or there. Now, with the new 50/50 ruling, all the best teams rely on English talent. And none more so than Helvecia.

We’ve got a number of talented young players who will only get better as the season goes on. With a new name, new coach and largely new squad, it may take some time to adapt. But once we do, I think we’ll surprise a few people.

Let’s see what happens…


No Final Whistle: Foreword by Sam Clucas


“When I was growing up I was obsessed with football. I started playing as soon as I could walk, and by the time I could run I was playing two matches in a day and then heading to the park straight afterwards. At the park I’d have a kickabout with my friends and if none of them were around then I’d be out in my back garden practising on my own.

Wherever I went I took a ball.

By the age of 10 I was lucky enough to sign a contract at the Leicester City academy. My dad drove me three times a week from our home in Lincoln. It took more than an hour to get there and more than an hour to get back.

When Leicester released me at the age of 16 it felt like my world had ended. After being there for six years, Leicester City was all I knew. I had been sure that I was going to make it into their first team.

Being released made me feel like I had let a lot of people down. Those around me had made plenty of sacrifices over the years: taking time off work to get me to matches, driving me to training sessions, buying me new boots, watching me play. It hadn’t been easy or cheap for them. And it had all been for nothing.

But I didn’t let that stop me.

I used that setback as motivation. I wanted to prove wrong all of the people who said that I was too small to be a footballer. I wanted to prove wrong all of the people telling me to give up on my dream.

Most importantly, I wanted to succeed for my parents and those around me who had supported me. I owed it to them and I also owed it to myself after all the sacrifices that had been made to become a professional footballer.

Sam and Seth playing for Lincolnshire

I signed for a local team called Nettleham. Soon enough I was called up to represent Lincolnshire. That’s where I met Seth. While I’d been released by Leicester, he’d been released by Peterborough United. We played down the left hand side; him at left back and myself at left wing.

From there, he signed a professional contract in Brazil and went on to write a few books, including the one you’re about to read.

And myself? I ended up in the Premier League.

It’s something that I never would have imagined. In the space of four years I went from working in a department store to playing against Arsenal and Manchester United.

Playing in the Premier League is the result of working hard every day, of listening to the advice of those around me. Ultimately, I believed in my ability despite what others said and never settled for what I had. I always wanted to test my ability at the next level, and in the end that desire paid off. I signed for Lincoln City, then Jerez Industrial, Hereford, Mansfield and Chesterfield. I was moving up through the leagues. Then, finally, I reached the top. I got promoted to the Premier League with Hull and won Player of the Year. When Hull were relegated, I returned to the Premier League by signing for Swansea.

The journey proved to myself and all those who doubted me that I was good enough.

All of the sacrifices had been worth it.

If I could say anything to an aspiring footballer it would be to enjoy every second of playing. The percentage of young players who make it professional is very small, so you should have as much fun as you can when on the pitch.

If you always listen to your coaches and teachers and keep trying to improve, though, then you never know what can happen. Even now I’m still improving my own game. Learning never stops.

Ultimately, football is a game of opinions.

You may get told ‘no’ by one person. That doesn’t mean you should give up. The next person may see your potential.

If you enjoy playing and keep on learning and trying to improve then anything is possible.

It’s what No Final Whistle is all about.

It’s what my career has been all about.

And it’s what I’ve proved with my journey to the Premier League.

Anything is possible.”

Pre order No Final Whistle: https://www.waterstones.com/book/9780995586154



No Final Whistle


As a young footballer, I was released from academies three times. I also failed four trials with pro clubs. And I wasn’t the only one who experienced such rejection.

Young footballers up and down the country are sold the dream of success. Pristine training facilities, top class coaching, psychologists, nutritionists, club kit, agents. It’s easy to get carried away.

Less than 0.5% of players who sign for an academy at the age of 9 end up making it as a professional footballer.

It’s a statistic that’s close to my heart. I’ve always been fascinated by youth development, and after reading Michael Calvin’s excellent No Hunger in Paradise, I made the decision to write something based on my own experiences.

9780995586154-669x1024The result is No Final a Whistle. Aimed at readers aged 9-13, the story follows young footballer Alfie Bennett as he signs for the famous Borough Academy. Initially overjoyed at the prospect of his new reality, Alfie soon realises that all is not quite as it seems.

Drawing from my experiences of academy football, the book seeks to teach the power of resilience. After all, one person’s opinion is never fact. Just ask Jamie Vardy. Or Harry Kane. Or even Sam Clucas, my old teammate who provides the book’s introduction.

I hope you enjoy it…

Pre-order No Final Whistle: https://www.waterstones.com/book/9780995586154


The Big Screen Debut


Last week I followed in the footsteps of Vinnie Jones by officially making the transition from football pitch to big screen. The Bromley Boys tells the story of one boy’s obsession with his local non-league side as they battle to stay in the Isthmian League. Based on the book by Dave Roberts, the film features an all star cast. There’s Martine McCutcheon, Alan Davies, Adam Deacon, Brenock O’Connor. And me.

It all started in the October of 2016. I was sitting at my desk, typing away at my computer, when the phone rang.

‘What are you doing tomorrow?’ came the voice on the other end of the line. It was William Sarne, a director of my old futsal team.

‘Well, I’ll be at work’, I replied, ‘but I’m about in the evening.’

‘Do you want to be in a film?’

I imagine other castings are slightly tougher.

The directors needed someone who could kick a football in a straight line. They were due to film a match scene and it’d be my job to dribble round a few defenders and score a couple of goals. It seemed simple enough.

‘Why are they sorting this so late?’ I asked.

‘Séan Garnier was supposed to be doing the role but he’s injured’ came the response. So I’d be a direct replacement for the two-time world freestyle champion. Séan Garnier, with six million global followers, replaced by Seth Burkett, with one thousand global followers – most of whom he went to school with – and no acting qualifications.

Later that evening the phone went again. It was William.

‘Listen, they still want you in the film, but the role you’re supposed to be playing is West Ham’s Bermudan international striker Clyde Best. You don’t know anyone more suitable do you?’

Within an hour, one of my former teammates – Sean Sinclair – was confirmed. The role that was originally going to be played by Séan Garnier was now being split between three of us. Séan would still be appearing in the film – he was flying in from France the next morning – but he couldn’t do any of the football scenes. My former teammate would be doing the dribbling and scoring. And I’d be doing, well, I wasn’t sure what I’d be doing.

The next morning William picked me up at 6.30am. This gave us plenty of time to make the 8am casting call at Crockenhill FC in Kent.

If that wake-up call wasn’t enough of a warning, I soon found out that the life of an actor isn’t so glamorous.

After a lot of waiting around, I was called in to get my costume. For one day only, I was to be a West Ham reserve team player. I was given a claret and blue kit with blacked out Sondico boots. First, however, I was to get changed into a moth-eaten suit to film an entrance scene.

All suited up, I was sent to hair and make-up. The two ladies took one look at me and decided that they didn’t really need to do too much to make me look like I was from the 60s. I’ve never claimed to be at the cutting edge of fashion, but I had hoped my look might pass for something more modern. They didn’t even touch my hair.

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By now it was approaching 10am. The stars were in their caravans and us extras were huddled together in the changing rooms, wondering when something was going to happen.

Eventually, those of us who were West Ham players were shepherded onto a bus. The task was simple. When the bus stopped we had to stand up, walk off and wait next to the bus door while the people with speaking parts said their bits.

If I wasn’t good at getting off a bus before, six takes and sixty minutes ensured that I’d pretty much nailed it by the time we moved on to the next scene: the run out.

I was assigned to lead my West Ham team out of the tunnel while keeping a ball in the air. In contrast, our overweight opponents would amble out to emphasise an obvious difference in footballing ability.

Once again, there were a load of takes, a load of different angles and a lot of waiting around for the cameras to reset.

At 2pm we broke for lunch. The stars took their shepherd’s pie back into their caravans while us extras huddled for space around the radiator in the cramped changing room. Despite our surroundings there was excitement in the air, for we all knew what was happening next: the goals.

With my former teammate now the star of the show, it was my task to provide him the pass. Inspired my Dimitri Payet’s slaloming goal the previous week, my team would roll the ball back to me from the kick-off. I’d take a touch and then hit a diag to my former teammate who’d then take on the whole team and score. He nailed it first time. And second time. And third time.

I watched on like a proud father, my own confidence growing with every pass. Then they asked me to score an overhead kick. After five underwhelming efforts they soon realised their mistake and instead focused on tap-ins and volleys. Happy that I’d had plenty of screen time, I took a backseat and let some of the others – who were actual actors and had actually auditioned – have a go.

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19 months later, having settled into my cinema seat at the world premiere of the Bromley Boys, I wished I hadn’t taken a backseat in the goal scenes.

Up to that point, all of the signs had been good. After the day’s filming, I was taken into the director’s caravan and given £100 for my troubles. Did that make me a semi-professional actor? I was sure it did and spent the evening working out how to get it into my Twitter bio.

A month before the premiere, I was thrilled to spot myself in the trailer. Ok, I was only in the background for half a second, but I figured that meant I’d definitely be in the film.

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On the day of the premiere, Mum and Dad travelled down from Peterborough. They’d never been to a premiere before and weren’t about to pass up the chance to see their boy in a film.

They got there early, and when I arrived an hour before the start time with my girlfriend I was surprised. I hadn’t expected it to be such a big event. There were people everywhere. The bar was buzzing. The stars were mingling with the crowd. And when Mum spotted Martine McCutcheon I thought she was going to faint with excitement.

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We walked through to the cinema room and found 1,000 seats awaiting us. All had been sold.

The film started and within 10 minutes I’d made an appearance. Pride filled me as I watched myself walk off the bus in my period outfit and stand majestically next to the door. The camera showed me in the background for at least five seconds as Branock O’Connor asked the West Ham manager whether ‘anyone good’ was going to be playing in the game. Cheeky sod.

Then, the run out scene. Now I really was in the background. All of those takes had been discarded. As the camera focused on Bromley’s rag-tag team, us West Ham players could just about be made out running on to the pitch. You couldn’t even tell that I was doing kick-ups. But not to worry, for now was my real star moment. The pass. I was sure it’d win me an Oscar.

I watched on, and on, and on. Awaiting the pass that never came. Instead the camera showed Sean Sinclair majestically control a lofted pass before turning and dribbling past the entire Bromley team. His goal was shown, then another of his goals, then a different actor’s goal. And then the scene was over, and with that my involvement in the film. £100 of payment for 10 hours of standing around and five seconds of peripheral screen time. To be honest, I was buzzing.

My girlfriend soon brought me back to Earth. ‘When are you in the film?’ she asked.

I reckon she was just too invested in the storyline to spot me. I don’t blame her. The film was good. Having spent a number of years playing non-league football, the characterisation was absolutely spot on. Dave Roberts’ book is brilliant, and the film truly does it justice thanks to some great acting, especially by Jamie Foreman.

As the end credits rolled, the crowd stood up to applaud. So many people had played a small part in bringing the film to life. I was proud to have been one of those people. And now it was out there, ready to be judged by the public. I guess the next step is just to wait for that Oscar…

Watch the trailer here