They started high school, fresh faced, eager to learn and play football. Five years on they are still just as interested in the sport, if not quite so fresh faced.
But in the intervening time these lads from Edmund Arrowsmith RC High have made football history.
The Year 11 footballers from St Edmund Arrowsmith Catholic High School won the Wigan and Leigh Schools Knockout Cup last week and were crowned Wigan school champions for the fifth successive year.
The victory means the group of talented young athletes have gone undefeated in every cup game they have played since starting high school in 2012.
The team secured their landmark victory after defeating St John Fisher Catholic High in a hard fought final, which was played at Ashton Athletic.
Goals from Louis Isherwood and Callum Preston in the second half saw St Edmund Arrowsmith emerge 2-1 victors, having gone into half time losing. Kyle Simpson was also named man of the match.
To go unbeaten for five years against all the other schools in the borough is some achievementHeadteacher Mark Dumican
Two of the school’s pupils are also on professional books - goalscorer Callum Preston is with Bolton Wanderers, and Henry Smith is with Cardiff City.
Teacher and manager Sean Bradley praised the boys’ performances: “Their commitment and attitude towards the game and the team has been excellent. We are very proud of them and wish them all the luck in the future.”
The team also reached the quarterfinals of the national competition, going further than any other local school.
Headteacher Mark Dumican was equally proud, lavishing praise on the team for reflecting the school’s values in their sporting achievements.
“It’s absolutely fantastic,” he said. “To go unbeaten for five years against all the other schools in the borough is some achievement.”
He added: “The thing I’m most proud about is the comments I’ve received from other schools about how the team conducted themselves.”
He also stressed the importance of extracurricular activities such as school sports teams, at a time when schools are facing more and more pressure to emphasise academic success and exam league tables.
Mr Dumican went through the Wigan school system himself, attending St Thomas More Catholic High School in Newtown.
He also played competitive sports along the way, and stated: “It’s part of your education. It’s an essential part of growing up and learning those life skills about being part of a team is absolutely crucial.
“The boys’ development has been aided by what they’ve given to the school through football, and I am incredibly proud.”