A Snippet From “The Amazing Sequel”


Julie was sitting with her head in her hands when her Uncle Matt walked in the room. 

“Hey, Jules, what’s up?” 

“Oh,” sighed Julie, “My grades!” 

Julie was definitely an above-average student who had sailed through her GCSE exams. She was now in the first year of the sixth form at school, taking A-levels. Unfortunately, she had not done well enough in her AS exams, and had been advised by her headmaster that she may have to repeat the year, re-sit the AS exams, or actually leave the sixth form. None of these options were on her ‘to-do’ list! 

“I don’t know what to do,” she sighed, “and dad will be so angry and upset with me. He really is sold on the idea that I go to University and get a degree, and get what he calls a ‘foothold’ for a job in the future.” 

“And what about mum?” asked Matt. 

“Oh, she’s not so hell-bent on all that University thing. She says it’s just another way of getting into debt before you even start earning.” 

“Well, I guess they’ve both got their points,” added Matt. “But what do you want to do for yourself?” 

“I’d love to go to University, and I’d love to pursue my career in Sports Science, but I’m not sure I’m bright enough. Maybe I’m not cut out for it.” 

“Or maybe you’re just not ready yet,” suggested Matt. “Maybe you just need to find another route to where you want to go. I mean there are various ways of getting from here to where I live. You can go motorway in less than an hour; you can go the A-roads in about ninety minutes; or you can go cross-country in three hours. The end result is just the same. You arrive at your destination. It’s just how you see it best to get there. If the motorway is jammed, the best option could be the A-roads. But they may well be busy too if the motorway is jammed, leaving the cross-country option on top. As long as you get there. That’s your goal. Get there.” 

“Yes, but dad will go ballistic, I know it!” she cried. “He’s so hell-bent on the University and A-levels…I just don’t know what to do.” 

“Why don’t you do what I did?” asked Matt. 

“What did you do?” 

“Well, I was in the same predicament as you. I sailed through my GCSE exams, and I was doing ok until the AS-level exams. I flunked them. I didn’t impress my tutors either, so, just like you, I had to decide what to do. Which way to go. Which road to take.” 

“So, what did you decide?” 

“I had a really long chat with a friend of my mum. A guy called Mark. He suggested an option that I hadn’t even considered. And that was leaving the sixth form. Leaving the school. Mark suggested that maybe I wasn’t ‘ready’ for A-levels, but that maybe the local Technical College and its BTEC course was more tailored to my objective and desire to do physiotherapy.” 

“So, did you leave?” 

“Yes, I did.” 

“But didn’t it feel like you were going backwards, leaving school and wasting a whole year?” 

“Yes, I did. It felt exactly like that. But I just thought Mark was making a lot of sense. He said it was not really a case of going backwards, but more a change of direction. And I really wanted to fulfil my dream of being a Physio, and the College course looked good. Much more suited to my dream than the A-levels.” 

“So, was this a two-year course?” asked Julie, becoming increasingly fascinated by Matt’s tale. 

“Yes, and if I did really well I could still go to University. And Mark was right. The course was great. I loved it. And I did really well. I really impressed my teachers. So much so that in my second year I got nominated for a Scholarship. You know what that is, right? It’s like an award. This one was part of the All-Ireland Scholarship Scheme funded by J.P. McManus.” 

“Oh, I’ve heard of him!” said Julie, all excited.” Didn’t he have race horses?” 

“Yes, he did. And he was also a major shareholder at Manchester United!” 

“So, did you get it?” 

“Yes, I did! I was chosen as one of the brightest students in Ireland, according to my tutors.” 

“Wow!” exclaimed Julie. “After being not good enough at school!” 

“Yes, so I was offered a grant that covered my three years at University. Over fifteen grand! And I had to go to Limerick University to accept the award. And guess who the guest speaker was? Michael O’Leary.” 

“The Ryanair guy?” 

“Yes, same guy!” 


“And J.P. McManus was hosting the ceremony.” 

Julie was clapping her hands in admiration for her Uncle Matt. 

“Which University did you go to?” she asked. 

“I went to Liverpool because it had a fantastic reputation for my subject. I guess all my hard work at the Tech College got me in. And then after three years I graduated, and I have been busy ever since!” 

Julie was well impressed.  

“Dad told me you were kind of famous.” 

Matt laughed. “Not really, not so much famous as well-respected in my field. I’ve worked with some top people in Harley Street in London, I’ve been on a Prime T.V. Show, I’ve worked at the Royal Opera House as a vocal coach, and now I have my own business and clients all around the world.” 

“That’s incredible”, said Julie, “after wasting a year.” 

“Well,” continued Matt, “maybe it wasn’t wasted. Maybe it was just part of my development. I like to think of it like that. If you end up going forwards, then the going backwards has to be worth it, right? The going backwards really is just that change of direction that helps you get there in the end.” 

“Yes, I guess you’re right,” pondered Julie. “And maybe I’m just needing to re-assess rather than give up. 

But what about dad? What am I going to say to him? He’s not going to like me going backwards, leaving school. He just won’t see it like that.” 

“Well, yes, of course he’s not going to see it straight away. But you can ask him to talk with me, if you like. Or you can ask him what happened on the 14th hole at the Club Championship last week.” 


“Yes, golf. Ask him what he did on the 14th hole.” 

“I thought he won the Club Championship,” said Julie, bemused at this talk of golf. 

“Yes, he did, but ask him what happened at the 14th.” 

“Why, what happened?” 

“Well,” continued Matt, “he had to make big decision.” 

“I don’t play golf, Matt!” 

“I know, Jules, but you do understand the game, don’t you?” 

“Yes, I suppose so.” 

“So,” explained Matt, “on hole 14 it’s a short par 4.  He has 4 shots to get the ball in the hole and make his par. At this point he is doing really well in the competition. He is leading”. 


“Anyway, he hits his tee shot and it goes too far right into the trees. It lands directly behind a tree. There’s no shot right, no shot left, and definitely no shot forward. He has no way of reaching the green in two shots.”

“Oh, dear!”

“His only option is to play the ball backwards onto the fairway, but doing so he leaves himself a really long and difficult shot to the green. His playing partner in the competition is also doing well, just one shot behind him. And he has hit a really good tee shot into the middle of the fairway. Your dad knows that this a crucial hole.”

“How come you saw all this?”

“I was also in his group. But I was nowhere in the running. Too many mistakes in the early part of the round.”

 “So, what did he do?” 

“Well, he was weighing up all sorts of risky shots; through trees, over water, trying to find the most forward route. But there really wasn’t one. I could see he was getting a little anxious. You know how competitive your dad is!” 

“Oh, yes!” agreed Julie. 

“Well, “continued Matt, “I had a quiet word with him. And I said his best option was to go backwards, get the ball on the fairway, and be happy with a bogey…that’s one shot over par.” 

Julie laughed at the expression, ‘bogey’. 

“So, he plays backwards. Now he’s on the fairway. He plays a wonderful rescue club to just short of the green, then he chips in from off the green, saving his par!”


“He goes on to win the Competition by one shot.”


“I told him afterwards that it was all down to his going backwards on the 14th that saved the day.” 

Julie was already feeling a bit better about her predicament. Somehow the poor AS grades didn’t seem so tragic anymore. Facing dad also seemed more plausible, if still a little daunting. 

Matt left her with a quote from Mark: 

“Out of every negative situation there are opportunities to be identified and nurtured. The journey to success might have a few bumps in the road and deviations, but with careful thought and clever navigation the destination is achievable, providing the desire is still there.” 

Uncle Matt proved that beyond doubt. 

Matt’s tale is a true story. 

‘Matthew Sinclair Health & Fitness Professionals’ can be followed on Instagram and Facebook. 

If you enjoyed this snippet from Ged Roberts’ The Amazing Sequel, you can buy the book here.