USUALLY in Sport Archives, we look back at a sporting story or memory, but today we are going to look ahead.

A fortnight ago, the Durham versus Essex county game was done and dusted on the Saturday, so we thought that the best chance of watching some cricket on the glorious sunny Bank Holiday Sunday might be at The Racecourse Ground in Durham, so we sauntered down to Old Elvet and past the Dun Cow, where in the old days, a cool pint of Nimmos 4 X could be purchased for little more than two shillings (10p in today's money).

There were hundreds of people at The Racecourse cricket ground but but no cricket taking place. People were either engaged in a spot of sunbathing or playing small sided games of rounders and football.

However, in one corner of the ground we spotted a young man juggling a football. Right foot to left foot with metronomic accuracy, then a flick to place the ball behind his neck before another flick to bring the ball back to his feet again. He was very impressive, so we thought we'd introduce ourselves.

He told us he was Alfie Pearn, 20 years of age, who played with Bishop Auckland in the Northern League. To relieve the boredom on the bank holiday, he'd put his sports gear on, picked up a football, jumped on a bus at Bowburn, and by himself walked down to The Racecourse to practise his skills.

Alfie's interest in football started at eight years of age at primary school where he'd represented his school and the district. At secondary level he had represented the school, district and also the county.

He'd had a couple of years at the Hartlepool football academy which he described as a "good experience" and then a couple of years at the Sunderland academy which he found more strenuous. "I was only 13 or 14 and found it very time consuming. I would come home from school, have my tea, then two nights a week I would be straight back out again to go to Sunderland for two hours of training and practice before we finished with a small sided game. It was the same on a Saturday, and then there was an academy game on the Sunday.

"Then they released me saying I was too small.

"I had a spell with the Spennymoor Under 18s where we won the league and the cup. In the process, I scored 40 goals which precipitated some interest from a number of professional clubs.

"This year I would like to cement my place in the Bishop Auckland team.

Andy Toman, the Bishop Auckland manager, said: "Alfie did well for us last season when he came off the bench. This season we want him to make the same step forward when he is given the full 90 minutes."

Alfie concluded: "I have high expectations of myself and believe that football should be played with the brain as it is becoming more technical all the time. I like to play a high press game and watch my team play out from the back. I try to look after myself and do some kind of training every day, whether it be weight training, ball work or even a bit of yoga.

"With regard to the ups and downs of football you just have to suck it up, keep calm, positive, and give 100 per cent to the club that believes in you."

Note of the week

LAST week, we dashed into the William Hill betting shop in Crook to watch the 1.45pm race at Beverley. With only minutes to off-time there was no card from Beverley on any screen. I asked the lady at the counter: "Is Beverley off today?" The lady replied: "I'm sorry, but Beverley doesn't work here anymore."

Fact of the Week

A HORSE drawn 1 in the Oaks or the Derby was said to have the "coffin box draw" as 16 of the last 19 horses drawn 1 in The Oaks have finished out of the frame. That is now 17 from 20 in the Oaks as Zeyaadah in box 1 finished second from last this year. However, in the Derby last weekend, Adayar ended a losing sequence of 21 by winning from stall 1. The last horse to do that was Oath in 1999, who had one more race and was then retired.

Diary Date

Crook Bowls Club is holding a meeting at the club on Saturday, June 19 at 9.30am.