AS A kid Mickey Stones used to collect photos of Julian Joachim for his sticker albums – but now Boston United’s new signing is setting his sights on partnering the former Premier League ace.
It has been a case of hard work paying off for the target man, who cut out the booze and fast food throughout the summer in order to earn a first-team contract at the Jakemans Stadium.
And now Stones is ready to fight for a place alongside a player he used to dream of emulating.
“I remember (Joachim) in the 1995-96 Premier League sticker books. I never thought I’d be playing alongside him,” said Stones, after partnering Joachim – known as Jockey – during Saturday’s 2-0 friendly defeat at Boston Town.
Stones, Joachim and defender Liam Parker all signed for United on Thursday after impressing on trial.
Stones, the leading scorer for Boston United’s Lincs League-winning reserves last season, was bumped up to the Pilgrims’ first-team squad for the end of the last campaign, scoring on his debut as Boston beat Vauxhall Motors 2-0.
But manager Jason Lee gave the forward strict orders to get into better shape if he was serious about earning a contract with the first team.
And, after weeks of road running, sprint training and toning up, Stones got his wish.
“I’m delighted to have signed,” he told The Standard. “I worked hard all summer to sign this contract – so I’m made up to be a Boston player.
“Jason told me I was a bit flabby so I needed to tone up, and get faster.”
Lee was another striker he used to look up to in his younger years, watching the former Lincoln City player in action at Sincil Bank.
Now, surrounded by ex-Premier League players, Stones thinks he can only improve his game.
“I’ve still got a lot to learn, but Jason is the right man to learn from,” he added..
“My main aim is to score goals, whether that’s starting or coming off the bench. But like all players, you really want to be starting.”
Lee was impressed by Stones’ attitude, believing the forward has done enough to earn a crack at the Blue Square Bet North.
“He did what we asked of him,” Lee said. “He was knocking on door last season, and we wanted to give him an opportunity. We thought he was wasted playing reserve team football.
“Goalscorers are hard to come by but we thought all he needed was a bit more more fitness and belief.”