Jack on board at Mariners as big brother watches on

CENTRE HALF OF ATTENTION: Jack Keeble in action for Grimsby Town's youth team in the Football League Youth Alliance.
CENTRE HALF OF ATTENTION: Jack Keeble in action for Grimsby Town's youth team in the Football League Youth Alliance.
  • One half of Keeble duo sets sail for football dreams at Grimsby Town academy
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No one who follows football in Holbeach will be surprised that one of the Keeble brothers is on the books of Grimsby Town.

No one who follows football in Holbeach will be surprised that one of the Keeble brothers is on the books of Grimsby Town.

The only surprise for some might be that it is Jack (16), rather than Jordan (18), who has found himself at the Mariners’ youth academy.

But good things seem to just happen for Jack who signed off at University Academy Holbeach by winning the school’s annual Geoff Capes Award for contirbution to sport.

Jack said: “I joined Grimsby Town just after Christmas 2014 but didn’t think too much of it at the time because I liked it where I was playing at Boston United’s Centre of Excellence.

“Grimsby scouted me when I was playing against them for Lincolnshire under-16s at Horncastle in November 2014 and when we went over to Blundell Park to speak to them, the club asked me to come for a six-week trial.

ROLL OF HONOUR: Jack Keeble (right) with other prizewinners at University Academy Holbeach's presentation evening, Alicia Thrope, Liam Mulholland and Will McKay, alongside principal Steve Baragwanath (centre).  Photo by Tim Wilson.

ROLL OF HONOUR: Jack Keeble (right) with other prizewinners at University Academy Holbeach's presentation evening, Alicia Thrope, Liam Mulholland and Will McKay, alongside principal Steve Baragwanath (centre). Photo by Tim Wilson.

“I had an indoor session and two or three outdoor sessions, then a proper game after which they called me in to a meeting and offered me a two-year youth contract.”

Jack and Jordan, known to team-mates and coaches alike as ‘the Keeble footballers’, had been on the Holbeach footballing radar since they played together at under-7 level.

But while Jordan was making good progress for his age, Jack was playing above his natural level with a mixture of a passion for football and a natural talent which allowed him to hold his own.

“It was more challenging to play in a team with older boys, but Jordan and I tried to help each other as much as we could,” Jack said.

When I’m talking to my brother, it usually starts with football and if it doesn’t, then our talk ends with football.

Jack Keeble, Grimsby Town FC Youth Academy

“When I’m talking to my brother, it usually starts with football and if it doesn’t, then our talk ends with football.

“When we were younger, myself and Jordan used to play in midfield together until we moved onto a bigger pitch at under-11 level which was when I went to centre-half and Jordan went up front.

“I didn’t really want to score goals, except penalties and free-kicks, and I was happy to play anywhere on the pitch that I was needed.”

Jack was also making a name for himself in cricket as a promising bowler and lower order batsman at county level, as well as turning in useful bowling spells for Long Sutton 2nd alongside Ian Morris, Paul Edgeller and Matt Bull.

Jack Keeble (second left) with Tyger Atkin, Abbie Somerville and Shania Tween (right) at The Games which was won by University Academy Holbeach.

Jack Keeble (second left) with Tyger Atkin, Abbie Somerville and Shania Tween (right) at The Games which was won by University Academy Holbeach.

In fact Jack was the ‘go-to guy’ for most sports at University Academy Holbeach, including basketball and rugby, until joining Boston United’s under-15 team when football took on top priority.

Jack said: “I always preferred to be good at football and while I was playing for Holbeach United under-14s and the county, Boston United 
picked me up just when I thought that nothing was going to happen for me.

“Phil Barnes (chairman of Holbeach United Youth FC) was my main mentor and apart from him, Jordan and my mum Lisa are the main 
reasons why I’ve got this chance.”

Jack’s sporting prowess was recognised by University Academy Holbeach at a presentation evening in November attended by 2014 Winter Paralympics multi-medallist skier Jade Etherington.

The Geoff Capes Award for greatest contribution to sport was won by Jack after shining for the school in football, cricket and basketball, demonstrating his playing skills on the pitch and organisational ability off it.

Jack said: “Because I was captain for the football, cricket and basketball teams, everyone said the award was something I’d get.

“It was interesting to hear Jade Etherington’s story about how she got so far in her sport with a disability.

“During the evening, the principal (Steve Baragwanath) told me to keep up with my GCSE work and thinking back, he was right because I looked at what could actually happen if I didn’t make it as a footballer.

“I’d need something to fall back on if nothing happens at Grimsby Town.”

An average week for Jack at Grimsby includes coursework, strength and conditioning in the gym, training and matches in the Football League Youth Alliance North East on Saturdays.

Jack admitted: “It’s going really well, considering that I didn’t think I’d get much game time.

“On the other hand, I’ve been injured for the last three months and it’s been frustrating to be in the gym while seeing the rest of the squad training.

“When I get back to playing football, I have to make sure that I impress the manager because he’s always watching and picking up important things about you.

“I always think that I have to be on top of my game and it’s always good to catch the manager’s eyes so that he knows you want a professional contract.

“I’m living out my dream but I want a professional contract.”

Pitch perfect Jordan now has the world at his feet

Holbeach are county Games champions

Paralympian star guest on a night of celebrations at University Academy Holbeach