Burnley FC season-ticket holder gets dream call for inaugural England squad

A Burnley FC season-ticket holder has been called up to the first ever England Thorns squad.

By Dan Black
Monday, 28th March 2022, 1:28 pm

Goal shooter James Firminger, who will watch the remainder of the Clarets' Premier League survival bid from the lower tier of the James Hargreaves Stand, was named in the inaugural 25-man for England Men’s Netball Team.

The 16-year-old former Blessed Trinity RC High School pupil was named alongside Ryan Allan, Ky Lewis, Geoff Mackay, Jamal Nicholson, Damian Williams and Tommy Wiseman [London Giants], Edward Smith, Eskay Bee, Klem Speck, Louis Gabriel, James Thomson-Boston, Charlie Gray, James O'Connor, Lewis Keeling, Richard Laney and Daniel Rix [Knights], James McClelland and Rowan Weaver [Northern Titans], David Sunaki [Army] and Spartans team-mate Luke Owen.

The England Men's and Mixed Netball Association (EMMNA) also named four development players to form the group following trials in London: Thomas Greenfield and Kevin John [South West Hawks], Bobby Jagger [London Giants] and Solomon Wright [Nottingham Trent University].

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Spartans Goal Shooter James Firminger (centre) is pictured with mum, Bernardine, while receiving his 'Rising Star' prize from Colin Jackson at the Burnley Community Sports Awards.

Proud Mum, Bernardine, who has played at Burnley Netball Club for 37 years, said: "My son is representing his country in the sport that he loves, the sport that he was introduced to at the age of eight (at St Mary's RC Primary School in Oswaldtwistle), the sport that he was so determined to be a part of, the sport that he never gave up on.

"I sit here in tears (again) as this is the stuff you read in magazines. A young boy from Burnley fighting for years against bullies, name-calling, knock backs and negativity.

"And now look. He's an England player! At 16, he is playing for his country, a dream of his only a few months ago. He's had so much support from family, friends, Burnley Netball Club, Spartans Men's Netball Club and England Men's and Mixed Netball Association.

"My boy has shone through with his sheer determination and raw talent and there aren't enough words to describe how that feels. Proud doesn't cover it! Myself and Andy Layfield are still on the ceiling and probably won't come down for some time.

Teenage netball star James Firminger, right, with mum Bernardine and international netball umpire Gary Burgess.

"Thank you to all those who believed in him, who backed him and gave him the opportunity to shine. My England star!"

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