HINDSIGHT is a wonderful thing. If John Bostock could only go back five years maybe he would not have signed for Tottenham Hotspur.
Bostock was 15 when former Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock opted to throw him into the limelight at Crystal Palace.
After four appearances for the Eagles, the midfielder was snapped up by London rivals Spurs in a £700,000 deal and subsequently became the youngest player to play for the White Hart Lane club aged 16 in the UEFA Cup.
Today, however, Bostock is set to make his first start on loan for Sheffield Wednesday in a League One game against Yeovil. He has still to play a league game for Spurs and is out of contract at the end of next season.
Things have not gone according to plan but Bostock, 20, aims to put things right.
Owls manager Gary Megson is convinced that he can still become ‘the next big thing’ – but loan spells at Brentford and Hull City failed to provide the spark.
“For me in life, I don’t want to regret anything but obviously, at the time, I thought I would be involved with the first team a lot more,” said Bostock. “I haven’t really done that since moving to Tottenham so, looking back, was it the best decision? I don’t know.
“With every bad decision – or decision that could have been changed – good can come out of it and now I’m here playing. Sheffield Wednesday is such a massive club so I am delighted to be here.
“It’s been a really tough time. I have been developing and become a better player but I’ve not really been getting a big chance to play consistently,” he added. “Moving to Tottenham, I just wanted to play – but that didn’t happen at such a massive club. Going back to the youth team and the reserves was challenging mentally.”
The burden of a heavy price tag on young shoulders is a cross to bear but Bostock, a devout Christian, has had long enough to come to terms with his status.
“When I was at school doing my GCSEs, I was in the newspapers every other day. Even my teachers were showing me newspaper cuttings,” he recalled. “It was a massive honour for a club like Tottenham, with such a great history, to come in for me. It was unbelievable. But it was always going to be tough for a 15-year-old.”
What happens between now and the end of the season could yet shape the rest of Bostock’s career.
“To come here now and play games is such a big move for me,” he admitted. “I know I have been given a talent but not being able to showcase that talent has been really, really tough. It would be every young player’s dream to be back in the Spurs set-up and if I play well, score goals, and help the team, you never know what can happen.
“It’s great to play in Tottenham’s reserves but every player wants to play competitive football,” he said.
“In my first meeting with the gaffer, he said the ‘most important thing is winning’ and I’m really happy to cut into that.
“In six months’ time, I just want to be able to look back knowing that I have played games, done well, really helped the club in any way I can, and improved as a player. If I am playing week-in, week-out, I know I will grow in confidence and, hopefully, the Wednesday fans will see my potential.”
Bostock, who made his first appearance for the Owls as a substitute in midweek at MK Dons, is pushing for a start today in a game where victory could lift the Owls back into the automatic promotion places.
Although Bostock’s full debut is the bigger talking point, the return to Hillsborough of former Owls defender Richard Hinds with Yeovil is also worthy of note.
Released by the Owls last summer, Sheffield-born Hinds is set to make his debut for the Glovers after spending the majority of the last six months unemployed.
A lifelong Owls supporter, Hinds played briefly for non-league Lincoln City but was a free agent again in the New Year transfer window.
Yeovil manager Gary Johnson said: “We were lucky to find someone of Richard’s experience available. He has played more than 300 games and this will be a huge game for him as it’s against one of his former clubs. He has come down all this way and he’s looking to get into a team where he can play first-team football.”
This season’s first meeting between the Owls and Yeovil was overshadowed by controversy which has not been forgotten by Owls manager Megson.
The hosts scored an ‘unsporting’ goal when Megson felt the ball should have been returned to the Owls following a stoppage for injury.
“We all want to win – but not that badly. I can guarantee you that if it happened with one of my players, I would have brought them all over to the touchline and let the opposition score.
“Their manager at the time (Terry Skiverton) didn’t want to do that,” he added. “He came up with some cock and bull story about Jose Semedo verbally abusing him! It didn’t really make a big difference (the Owls won 3-2)) but it should never happen.”
Skiverton is now assistant to Johnson, who was also a contender for the Owls job prior to Megson’s appointment last season.