BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
A FRESH-FACED Jayden Stockley was so young when he made his Bournemouth breakthrough that Eddie Howe had to ask permission for the 15-year-old to be excused school.
Now 22, the new Aberdeen striker admits there have been plenty lessons learned since his fledgling beginnings in the game.
Stockley initially combined turning out for Bournemouth with studying and playing for his team at Lytchett Minster School near Poole in Dorset.
It was a remarkable story that attracted him the glare of attention and also gave the raw teenager hopes he had a big future in store with his local team.
“I managed to nick some minutes as a schoolboy and so it gave me something to brag about when I went back to school on the Monday morning in my science lessons,” he joked preparing for the season with Aberdeen in St Andrews.
“The PE teachers were class and there was always really good banter flying around. They gave me a lot of stick but it was funny.
“My mates were still playing school football. I would come on for Bournemouth on the Saturday and then have a school match on the Tuesday.
“The gaffer (Howe) would tell me to watch my tackles and not to get injured!
“I played all sorts of sports but to play for my hometown team at the weekend was a dream. There were cameras coming into my school – it was mad.”
Bournemouth were a League Two team when Stockley made his top-team debut in 2009, a step up speeded by financial troubles at the south-coast club.
But Howe has since overseen an incredible ascension through the divisions to their current place amidst the glamour of the Premier League.
Stockley has been thrilled with the meteoric rise but it has been a success that has also prevented him from ‘making it’ with the Cherries.
Nine separate loan spells have failed to earn him a regular starting berth and he moved north this summer having netted just twice in 22 appearances.
“The club has gone up and up,” confessed the 6’3” marksman, who is now relishing the prospect of European football with Aberdeen against Fola Esch on Thursday.
“If they hadn’t, maybe I would have had a big future at Bournemouth. But I’ve learned a lot of valuable lessons from being around all the things that happened at the club during the time I was there.
“For a lot of people, it is their first club and the whole place is totally transformed. It is a massive footballing machine now.
“There is also a little bit of regret that I am not part of it, having grown up and being there since I was seven.
“I really wanted to play for Bournemouth, but now all I want to do is to play football and to achieve things in the game.
“I am a really determined character and it was time for me to move on.”