FOR a split second, James Burke faced up to the very real prospect of going into the Bury record books for making the shortest ever debut.
That was the nightmare vision that flashed before his eyes when Hartlepool’s Luke James broke into the Bury box in the opening minute of their New Year’s Day clash at Victoria Park.
Thankfully for the 19-year-old defender - making both his league and Bury debut after signing on a free transfer from Huddersfield Town on New Year’s Eve - he slid in to make a perfectly-timed tackle and the risk of a straight red card was averted.
Just for good measure, the teenager repeated the trick a minute later to set Bury on the road to a clean sheet and an impressive 3-0 victory, securing Burke a dream start.
“The tackles massively improved my confidence - I took a lot from that,” said the former Terriers trainee, whose only previous first-team experience came on loan last season at Radcliffe Borough.
Burke says he was shocked to be handed his Bury debut only a day after signing, especially as the Shakers went into the Hartlepool trip on the back of a 2-1 victory at home to York on Boxing Day.
But he seized the chance with both hands.
“I thought the gaffer would keep the same team, but he didn’t and I’m glad to have got my chance to hopefully prove what I can do,” he said.
“Saying that, if I hadn’t got that first tackle right I might have blown that chance.
“That’s how you want to start any game, never mind your league debut.
“So I am absolutely over the moon with it.”
The Sheppley-born teenager admits to being disappointed after being released by his hometown club last month, but he is now determined to nail down his place in the Bury first team.
He looked calm and assured on the right of a back three on Wednesday, playing alongside Nathan Cameron and the experienced Richard Hinds.
“I’m just glad to be playing, compared to being at Huddersfield in the under-21s,” he added.
“I had offers from a Conference club as well, but people said you don’t want to go out of the league.
“The gaffer just said I would get the games and he would develop me as a player.
“It’s going to be hard to adapt to two games a week because I am only really used to maybe one every two weeks or even a month, but I am looking forward to the challenge.
“And I’m just going to kick on and try to make it as hard as I can for the gaffer not to choose me every week.”