Long Stratton hotshot James Bemrose pleased with improvements during 2019/20 season
James Bemrose was well aware he would be a marked man in 2019/20, but the Long Stratton striker rose to the challenge.
The teenager made a name for himself last term, topping the Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination Premier Division scoring charts with a return of 33 goals from just 32 appearances.
The pressure was on to deliver again this season and while the record books may eventually end up being expunged due to the coronavirus pandemic, statistics show Bemrose fired in 37 more goals in 26 Premier Division outings.
For good measure, the 19-year-old scored another 35 in only 16 matches for Stratton’s Norwich & District Sunday League side.
“The pressure was on and I remember thinking at the start of the season, what if I have a bad season after last year? There was a lot of expectation on me to do well,” said the Long Stratton resident.
“I had to improve. This league isn’t easy and defenders know who I am now – there are no surprises.
“The challenge for me was always to beat last season’s record and so I had to change.
“I did different things as a striker and started to score different types of goals, like free kicks.
“There were times when my head might have been down, but the lads in the dressing room gave me a lot of belief. As soon as I get the first goal in a game, then I feel on it.
“Adam (Burroughs, manager) played up front and he has helped me a lot to adapt. Ben Nichols and Adam Race have also given me a lot of support; I cannot thank them enough.”
With Bemrose having scored 88 goals in the last four Premier Division campaigns – he notched 18 times during the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons – interest from higher-league clubs is inevitable.
The frontman has indeed received a number of offers but while he does want to test himself, he will only move when the time feels right.
“I am still young – only 19 – and I have got lots of football ahead of me,” said Bemrose.
“I would love to go higher at some stage, play in front of bigger crowds and get paid to play.
“There would be even more pressure and as a striker that is something that I like.
“But it has got be the the right move – there is no rush. I love it at Stratton. The fans have been great with me and I have a lot of respect from people. My brother is also in the first team now and it is good to be playing in the same team as him. It would be tough to leave.
“The club have said that if I do ever move up and it doesn’t work out, I can always come back, which is great.
“It is nice to have had some interest and I also have to thank my team-mates for that because they are the ones creating the chances for me.”
More by this authorLiam Apicella