Wolverhampton Wanderers’ rookie Ashley Hemmings admits his taste of life at the top, after being thrust on in last week’s Championship-clinching battle at Barnsley, has left him wanting more of the same.
The 18-year-old made a 68th-minute appearance at Oakwell last Saturday when he replaced the injured Andy Keogh and helped Wolves snatch a 1-1 draw which handed them the Coca-Cola Championship trophy.
The match at Barnsley was a baptism of fire for the academy graduate who had previously been on the bench for Mick McCarthy’s side only once, as an unused substitute at Swansea.
Hemmings, who was on the pitch when fellow substitute Kyel Reid fired home the equaliser late in the game, admitted his debut for Wolves had been incredible, buoyed as it was by 6,000 fans who had travelled up to Yorkshire.
He said it had been a real “buzz” although he had to dodge the fans at the end during a pitch invasion as they tried to steal his shirt – a memento he was eager to keep for himself.
He said: “I found out on the Thursday I was travelling with the first team but at that stage I didn’t know I was going to be on the bench.
“It was great when the gaffer told me to get ready to go on and my heart was beating that little bit faster.
“I’d been warming up and then Andy got injured so I knew I was going on.
“But when I got out there I just calmed down and did what I had to do and tried to keep things simple like the gaffer had said.”
Hemmings certainly had his work cut out being marked by giant defender Darren Moore.
But the youngster producded a decent account of himself despite the pressure of the occasion.
Hemming said: “When I got on I just did the best that I could do.
“When Kyel Reid scored the goal it was a great feeling and from there we knew we were going to be champions. There can’t be a much better time to make a debut!”
Recalling the atmosphere at the end of the match, Hemming said: “When they all came on the pitch someone was trying to grab my shirt but I wasn’t going to let that go!
“The other lads were really happy for me and said it was a great debut.
“They all signed my top at the end which is something I will be able to keep as a reminder of the day and it was great that all my family were there as well.”
The young striker hopes his appearance will spur on other Academy youngsters – another six of whom, like him, have been offered profesisonal terms.
He said: “It is thanks to the gaffer and all the coaches that I feel I’ve become a better player. Working with quality strikers also helps.
“Getting to play tells me that if you always put in 100 per cent and are willing to learn then you do get a chance.”