Noakes in final push for pro deal

Joe Noakes in action for the Hawks Academy. Picture: Dave Haines
Joe Noakes in action for the Hawks Academy. Picture: Dave Haines
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Joe Noakes will get the chance to impress Paolo Di Canio as he bids for football stardom.

The Farlington teenager has seen off around 5,000 other entrants in Samsung’s nationwide Win A Pro Contract competition – with a deal with Swindon Town or Leyton Orient up for grabs for two winners.

The 18-year-old defender has already come through a county selection process and a trial match at Staines Town to seal a place in the last 22.

And he now faces a trial game at Swindon’s County Ground under the watchful eye of Di Canio and Orient boss Russell Slade on December 16.

If he comes through that one, he will face a Leyton Orient XI in January, with Di Canio and Slade then selecting a small group to join their first-team squads with a view to offering one of them a contract.

While Noakes has already made fine progress and beaten some huge odds to get as far as he has, he believes he can go all the way to realise his dream of becoming a professional footballer.

And he would be following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Alf, who played for Pompey, Crystal Palace and West Ham in the 1960s.

Noakes said: ‘I’ve really enjoyed the experience.

‘I think to get this far out of 5,000 people is an achievement in itself, but now it’s down to another game at Swindon.

‘I think I’ve got a chance of winning a contract.

‘I’ve never been picked up by any professional club and that’s why I entered the competition. I think I am good enough to be a professional footballer but I haven’t had much of a look-in.

‘Pompey were sniffing around at one point but I never heard anything back from them.

‘I must have had some kind of spark to get this far, so I don’t see why I can’t go all the way.

‘I will just give it everything, try to impress and see what happens.’

Noakes is part of the Hawks Academy set-up and has been supported in his efforts to win a deal by Westleigh Park boss Lee Bradbury and his assistant Shaun Gale.

He said: ‘They have both wished me luck.

‘It’s been hard to get into the first team and they told me it’s quite a big step-up because of my age, but they told me they have been impressed with me when I have played.

‘I’ve just got to wait for my opportunity to prove what I’ve got to them.

‘If the competition doesn’t work out, I would carry on playing for the Hawks and hope to do well for them in the future.’

The centre-back also pointed to his football academy course at South Downs College as a reason behind his recent improvement, which has taken him this far in the competition.

He said: ‘Before I joined that course, I could play football but I wasn’t the best technically.

‘But over the past two years I have developed as a player because I have been playing every day and been getting good coaching. I’ve definitely improved.’