BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Macauley Bonne has revealed he did not even tell his family that he was making his first Championship start for Charlton Athletic.
The forward, 23, claimed the winning goal in Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Leeds United although replays seemed to show that Leeds’ Stuart Dallas might have got the final touch.
None of that mattered to Bonne, who made the jump from playing National League with Leyton Orient to the second tier of English football in the summer.
“I just checked on my Instagram and at the same time of last season I was playing against Braintree Town in the Conference,” he said.
“Now I’ve scored the winner against Leeds – I couldn’t write a better story. From where I have come from, I couldn’t tell you how happy I am.
“You get little ideas in the week and then Friday morning when he [manager Lee Bowyer] flipped the board I knew I was starting.
“I’m still trying to process it myself. I didn’t even tell my parents.
“They came here today and they got here a bit late – my dad and my grandad saw me. I checked my phone now [after the game] and they said: ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ It was a surprise.
“I always thought I would get slowly moved in, like I did getting half an hour against Barnsley on my debut. To be thrown in against Leeds I knew I need to be a man here. I’m 23. I’ve got to establish myself in the Championship.”
Bonne has heavy loan interest but Bowyer made the call to keep him in SE7 in case his striking options got depleted. That is exactly what happened with Lyle Taylor and Tomer Hemed both ruled out due to injuries.
Asked if he had pushed for a temporary exit before the deadline for deals, Bonne responded: “At one point I was. I was speaking to my agent and saying: ‘I don’t want to be left out to dry’.
“I get that training is going to be helpful to me, but I want to be playing games and scoring goals.
“But I’m 23 years old. I’m in the Championship. I’ve come from non league – I’ve got to bite my tongue, wait, work hard and do what I can for days like today.
“He could’ve put any other attacker in there today and he chose me. I’m grateful for that and hopefully I’ve shown him what I can do.
“I never expected to go straight in.
“It’s going to take me months and months of training. I’m still not up to speed with the Championship.
“I’m doing my extras and what I can in training so that when I am called upon, like today, I can produce. It was off the back of the shoulder but that’s what I’ve been brought in to do – scores goals. I’ve done it today.”
Charlton are level on points with Leeds. They are sixth in the table and 12 points clear of the bottom three.
“I don’t think anyone would have predicted that,” said Bonne. “It’s the training – second to none, the tempo. Everyone wants to be better, like in the gym. Everyone is pushing to be better and it is paying off.”
PICTURE BY PAUL EDWARDS