ASKED what comes next and Harry Brown doesn’t hesitate: “Who knows? I might be manager of Newcastle United ­–then they might win the Premier League and Champions’ League,” he grins.

Dreamland? Maybe. But at 16-year-old, Harry has already defied the odds by becoming what is thought to be the country’s first qualified football coach with Down’s Syndrome.

Harry has a smile as wide as the Tyne Bridge and a personality that has made him a much-loved part of the phenomenon that is the Amazons Football Club for girls and women in County Durham.

In April 2018, this column shone the spotlight on Harry’s achievements as an inspirational assistant coach with the Amazons’ Stompers under-sevens team.

Back then, it was his dream to be a qualified coach, with official accreditation from the Football Association. Today, it is an honour to announce that Harry’s dream has become a reality – he has just passed his FA Level One qualification as a coach.

“I’m really proud but it really helped that I did it with my Dad,” he says.

Dad is Gavin, a project manager with Barclays Bank, who invests a huge amount of his own time in helping to coach the Amazons.

Together, Harry and Gavin took the FA course: nine three-hour sessions, combining classroom theory with planning and delivering coaching. Both passed with flying colours but, with all due respect to his dad, it’s Harry who’s the real star.

Naturally, Gavin and mum Tracy are “immensely proud” of Harry’s achievements. But he’s part of a much bigger family – the wonderful football club that was founded in 2005 and has blossomed into multiple teams, with around 130 girls wearing Amazons’ shirts.

“He brings so much energy and enthusiasm to the sessions,” says Gavin during a break from coaching at Abbey Leisure Centre in Durham. “He loves football, he loves the camaraderie, and the players clearly love him.”

Beth Ward, Vice Chair of The Amazons, has come up through the Amazons’ ranks since joining as one of the original players 14 years ago. She is another Harry fan. “He puts a smile on the face of anyone who meets him,” she says. “What he’s done is incredible and he shows what can be achieved through passion and dedication. Above all else, the players really respect him and look up to him.”

As she waits for her nine-year-old grand-daughter, Miya, to finish her training session, Marilyn Wilson is quick to add her own glowing tribute: “Harry’s just brilliant. He’s so encouraging and his love of football shines through.”

Tom Maddison, whose daughter Phoebe is also an Amazons Stomper, adds: “He’s fantastic on the touchline during matches. Even when they lose, he’s giving them high-fives as they come off the pitch.”

Harry is also a proud member of the Newcastle United Foundation Down’s Syndrome team and, as if completing the FA coaching badge isn’t enough, he’s busy doing a level 2 diploma in sport at New College Durham.

He celebrates his 17th birthday on Wednesday but, as usual, he’ll be at the leisure centre, cajoling, encouraging, inspiring and, of course, smiling.

For now, he’s content to be a mere season ticket holder at St James’s Park but, make no mistake, he’s got his eye on Steve Bruce’s job.

Harry Brown – qualified football coach – take a bow.

THE Amazons were founded by mum-of-two Julie Scurfield, who was the overall winner of last year’s Local Heroes Awards – The Northern Echo’s Oscars of grass roots sport.

On Thursday, it will be my privilege to compere the 20th anniversary of those special awards in The Grand Marquee at Wynyard Hall.

It seems like five minutes since I launched the event as an experiment, in the year I became editor of The Northern Echo. Darlington Football Club’s old Feethams ground was the original venue, and Tall Trees, Hardwick Hall and now Wynyard Hall have followed.

The Local Heroes Awards have given me some of my most treasured memories – and I can’t wait to see more unfold on Thursday.

The Northern Echo:

FINALLY, thank you to Thirsk Probus Club members for welcoming me as guest speaker last week.

Kindly arranged by former Tyne Tees Television reporter Peter Holland, it was an enjoyable occasion in Thirsk’s Royal British Legion Club, next door to the World of James Herriot museum.

However, I suspect I’ll remember it most for the vote of thanks, given by Peter Fox, the former Recorder of Middlesbrough, Teesside’s senior judge.

It transpired that he’d been more than a little miffed over the reporting of a case under my editorship several years ago.

“Mr Peter Barron, having met you, I’m now so pleased I decided not to jail you…” he began.

Judges may retire – but they never lose the ability to make you shudder.