Student Watmore eager to pass Hibernian exam

Hibs manager Terry Butcher is joined by new loan signings Duncan Watmore, left, and Danny Haynes. Picture: Neil Hanna
Hibs manager Terry Butcher is joined by new loan signings Duncan Watmore, left, and Danny Haynes. Picture: Neil Hanna
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Transfer deadline day can at times be frenetic and Hibernian contributed to the changes swirling through 
Scottish football yesterday with the capture of three players on loan.

In full: Scotland’s January transfer window signings

For one of that trio, however, the move north was just the latest instalment in a manic January that could help to shape the rest of his life.

Notts County striker Danny Haynes, a pacy 26-year-old, was joined by 21-year-old Arsenal defender Daniel Boateng in completing deals yesterday with the Easter Road outfit, who also failed in a bid for an English Premier League striker and allowed right-back Tim Clancy to depart the club six months early after negotiating his release.

But it was Sunderland winger Duncan Watmore who would probably have had the biggest reason to take a welcome breather as he surveyed his new surroundings.

The 19-year-old is currently halfway through a degree in economics and business management at Newcastle University, having switched from Manchester University when he made a dream move from Conference side Altrincham to Sunderland last summer. Intent on continuing his studies while attempting to forge a career as a professional footballer, 
Watmore recently added economics examinations into a whirlwind spell that says much for the level-headed 
approach of a teenager who clearly has a bright future ahead of him.

“It’s been a hectic month,” he explained, “because I also made my first-team debut for Sunderland in the FA Cup against Carlisle and then I trained with the first team for a couple of weeks. Then I had four economics exams in the space of five days – and I actually think they went quite well. I wasn’t expecting that!

“I didn’t know about this move before my exams, I wasn’t told anything. The best way was to get that all sorted and then talk about what the best next stage of my development would be. Then I heard about this move and I wasn’t going to turn it down. It is an awesome opportunity.” The teenager will keep up with his education online during his stay in Edinburgh before facing his next exams when the season has finished in June. It is a juggling act he is already used to and one he relishes.

“I am used to balancing my studies with football,” he added. “It’s something you get used to quite quickly. I quite enjoy it, it’s quite a nice thing to be able to go back home and have something different to football. So, the balance is good.

“I never thought about giving it up when I signed for Sunderland. I know there is still a hell of a long way before I can start thinking like that. So, I have always said whatever happens I will get my degree, keep working and take it from there.”

With Boateng due to arrive at Hibs on Monday, Haynes was able to rely on a familiar face as he ventured north of the border for the first time in his life in search of a fresh start in a career that has already taken him to the likes of Bristol City, Charlton Athletic and Barnsley. Transfer-listed just six months into his two-year contract at Notts County, the former England Under-19 cap is being helped in settling in by his new skipper, Liam Craig, a one-time former Ipswich Town team-mate from happy days together in the FA Youth Cup-winning side of 2005, when they defeated a Southampton team including the likes of Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Adam Lallana.

“I’ve got a massive point to prove, not only to other people but also to myself,” he admitted, “because I feel that, for me, going to Notts County, a lot of things happened that didn’t really go my way. It was quite frustrating to sit on the bench and not play, and seeing everything move so fast around me.

“I’m not getting any younger, so coming up here, I’ve got my head down and focused on doing my best. I’ve come here on the basis of the way the manager spoke to me. He believed in me, he believes I can do a good job and I believe in the things he wants to do, to take the club forward. That’s why I’m here, to prove a point to myself and prove other people wrong, to be honest.”

Meanwhile, Hibs manager Terry Butcher has praised chairman Rod Petrie for his hands-on approach to strengthening the squad for the remainder of the campaign.

“The thing I really enjoyed was being in the room yesterday. It was like a NASA nerve centre,” he commented. “The chairman was actually in there doing the paperwork on the computer, dealing with relevant clubs.

“People don’t see that but the chairman is actually at the coal face, doing the business, physically getting the work done. He spent all yesterday afternoon and evening here at the club doing the business. Wow.

“I kept making him cups of tea. I thought the TB on my training kit stood for Tea Boy!

“I was fetching him coffee and Tunnock’s Tea Cakes. It was good to see them all helping out, asking what they could do to make my life easier.”