Hotshot Luke Tuttle preparing for four cup semi-finals

A hotshot striker rejected by Norwich City for being too small as a boy hopes to be walking tall at Carrow Road this season.

Prolific Luke Tuttle had his heart broken at the age of 11 after being released by the Canaries because of a lack of height.

But since those days he has matured into one of the most consistent goalgetters on the local scene – and currently tops the scoring charts in the Anglian Combination senior divisions and for his Saturday club Norwich St Johns and Sunday team AFC Wanderers.

Now 25, and standing not far short of six feet, Luke has already tasted Carrow Road cup final glory with both clubs and is hoping to repeat the experience at every local grassroots players’ theatre of dreams this season.

On Saturday week St Johns travel to Thetford Town in the Norfolk Senior Cup semi-finals, while the following day AFC Wanderers visit Yarmouth outfit Camden Tavern in the Norfolk Sunday Senior Cup semi-finals.

“I have played in two Carrow Road finals before and won both, so it would be great to complete a hat-trick. I can’t imagine what it must be like to lose there – it must be horrible,” said Tuttle, who helped St Johns to beat King’s Lynn Reserves on penalties in the 2009 Norfolk Junior Cup final and AFC Wanderers to beat Dog House 3-2 in the 2010 Sunday Senior Cup.

Currently the Anglian Combination senior divisions’ top scorer with 24 goals, Luke is polishing up his shooting boots for the tough-looking trip to in-form Thetford Town, who knocked out Wroxham in the quarter-finals on their fortress-like Mundford Road ground.

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St Johns – the only Anglian Combination team left in the contest, which sees Gorleston entertain Norwich City Reserves in the other semi-final – will be the underdogs, but Luke said: “I think we can beat anyone over 90 minutes. We will go there with nothing to lose and hopefully spring a surprise.

“We have knocked out some good teams from our league to get this far and now we have got to raise it against a Ridgeons League team but hopefully we can.”

Luke, who is the longest serving player on St John’s books having joined eight years ago, has been a key part of the success story which has seen the Cringleford-based outfit rise from the junior ranks of Anglian Combination Division Two to the top flight under the guiding hand of Gary Howes over the past three years.

This season is developing into Luke’s best ever with silverware possibilities galore.

St Johns will host Acle in the semi-finals of the Anglian Combination’s Senior KO Cup, the Mummery Cup (on February 25), while Jason Bush’s AFC Wanderers are also involved in the Norwich Sunday League Premier Division title race.

Luke’s red-hot form has not gone unnoticed by the big boys as Ridgeons League Premier Division outfit Dereham have signed him up for midweek games this season and the Ridgeons League Cup is another trophy possibility as the Magpies booked a semi-final date at home to Stanway Rovers on March 3 by beating Kirkley and Pakefield last week.

The winners will meet either Wroxham or Norwich United in the final.

It is the Magpies who could well have first call on Luke’s services next season.

He revealed: “It looks as though it might be my last season for St Johns. I want to try and play at as high a level as I can.” His movement up the ladder will come as no surprise to those who have seen his potential developing over the years.

Bush, who has seen him prosper with both St Johns and AFC, commented: “I think he is one of the best midfielder/strikers in Norfolk and when he is on his game he is unstoppable. He has got an eye for a pass – he can hit a 40-yard pass to feet –and he knows where the goal is. Over the next three or four years he will be in his prime.”

Luke, who regards his finishing and his touch as his best assets, played down his goalscoring feats, saying: “It helps when you have got good players around you. Most of my goals are down to the service from players in midfield. It helps when people put things on a plate for you.”

Looking ahead to the Sunday Senior Cup semi-final at Camden Tavern, Luke who has scored 102 goals in 130 games for AFC Wanderers, said: “We have been to their place before and won in the quarter-finals the year we won the competition.

“There is never going to be an easy game in a semi-final but we are quietly confident. They will probably be the underdogs against us.”

Despite all the silverware promise Luke concedes he could end up empty-handed, such is the fickle nature of football fortune.

“I would like to think I could get at least one trophy this year but you never know. If it could be at Carrow Road it would be all the better – it’s by far the best stage to play on,” he said.