BRADFORD (Park Avenue) have begun their preparations for the new campaign with three recent pre-season friendlies, against Campion, Silsden and league opposition in Bradford City.

While it hasn’t been the best start for manager Mark Bower with two draws and a defeat, one major positive to have come from the tests has been the rise of 16-year-old starlet Seb Bolton.

Standing at six foot, three inches tall, Bolton has just modelled for the newly-unveiled Avenue kits and even donned a retro look in the friendly outings, making his debut in the goalless draw with Northern Counties East League Premier Division side Silsden.

Bolton spoke exclusively to the T&A, saying: “It was surreal really because I didn’t expect to come on so soon, but Nicky Clee got injured.

“So I came on earlier than I expected and it felt amazing. I had always wanted to play men’s football at a high level like that.

“It’s a massive difference between youth and adult football, but I think it helped that I used to play at county amateur level with Ealandians, so that really benefitted me in making my debut at Silsden, as I felt a bit more confident.

“The change between youth and men's football is massive from a physical side and a technicality side.

“My height helps but it’s not all about that, I’ve been working hard in the gym and going every day, but my physique and how tall I am has helped massively.”

Bolton is a lifelong Bradford City fan, and had the opportunity to feature against Derek Adams’ side in the Tom Banks Memorial Trophy last Tuesday.

He said: “When Mark said to get my top on, I just knew that my dream had come true.

“As soon as I set foot onto the pitch it was just amazing, the best feeling I’ve ever had in my life.

“The fans were electric, obviously being sat on the bench I could see all of them there.

“So coming on and hearing them, even hearing them celebrate the Bradford City goals, got me a bit hyped.”

One man who has put huge faith in the young striker is former City defender and current Avenue gaffer Bower.

Bolton enthused: “He is absolutely class with me, and he has been very welcoming.

“One of the reasons why I chose BPA was because of the clear pathway to the first team.

“At the trial with Mark and Tom (McStravick, Avenue's academy technical director), I was called into the office and they were keen to have me in their scholarship program.

“We talked about the pathway if I worked hard.

“Mark’s helped me move into the first team with training, my physique and learning off of the other players like Oli Johnson, and players like that have been helping me through the games.

“They’ve all made me feel part of the squad. I’ve been made to feel like I’m one of them, instead of just a young lad coming through.

“It’s just like a big family really, they are all really welcoming and supportive of me, so if I do a bad thing on the pitch they’ll let me know, but if I do a good thing they’ll also let me know. It’s really good.”

Bolton joins talented goalkeeper Jacob Fawcett as one of the youngsters making the jump from the scholarship into the first team, after being trained by former Leeds United youth coach McStravick.

The teenager said: “It is a great experience to get taught by such a good coach like Tom, and playing alongside people my age who are also very good players.

“It’s been really good and I think the scholarship will go a really long way in the future.

“Jacob has been excellent, he’s been teaching me what the players expect and what the first team is like, so I have learnt a lot from him.”

Sadly, Bradford (Park Avenue)’s friendly with Eccleshill United was postponed on Saturday due to a positive Covid-19 test within the Eagles camp.

But Bolton should not have too long to wait before he is back in action again.

Avenue will be attempting to show what they can do against high-quality opposition on Wednesday, as the Horsfall Stadium hosts the visit of an Everton Under-23s side.

Kick-off for that clash is at 7pm, with tickets costing £10 for adults and £8 for concessions.