When you're 15 and supposed to be studying for your GCSE mock exams, you think of any excuse you can to get out of it.

Making your professional football debut for the club you support is a novel one - but it is one Max Woodford will never forget.

The Stevenage born and bred youngster, who goes to Marriotts School, was a surprise name on the teamsheet as Boro faced Crystal Palace in the EFL Trophy.

And when he emerged from the dugout with seven minutes of normal time to go, he stepped into the club's record books, as their youngest ever player.

It completed a whirlwind few days for him.

He said: "I only actually found out on Monday so it was a nice little surprise for me. 

"My mum made me do my revision so that was a late night in itself but my mind was just clouded with this, buzzing. 

"I’ve been training for the last week or so with the first team and I've been with the U18s, so that's up from my U16 age group, and I got called up to for the FA Youth Cup [away to Burgess Hill].  

"That was a nice little first taste of playing in front of a big crowd, lots of shouting to keep me on my toes, so I was already enjoying it. 

"And then this was just a great experience, a debut for the first team at 15. 

"It just blows my mind really."

Manager Steve Evans even hinted that he could have started, with a lengthy debate on the position being held between him and assistants Paul Raynor and Alex Revell.

Woodford believes he can force his way in too.

"It's all about performance really," he said. "I got a bit of luck with older keepers being injured and on international duty but you make your own luck.  

"If I wasn't playing well, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity."

Another part of his shock and rapid rise was there wasn't a lot known about him, even among the club's media staff.

The 15-year-old was happy to fill in the blanks.

He said: "I joined the club about this time two years ago. I came on trial and I got signed in the February, a few months after. 

"Before then, it was just grassroots. It was just a Stevenage Borough local team, that's literally all it was, just grassroots on a Sunday. 

"It was a bit of a laugh with my mates and then it sparked into this and I’ve been on the front foot ever since. 

"But they’ve all been great experiences. Dreams are coming true, that's all I can say.

"It’s a little bit of an age gap [with the rest of the squad] but they have been so welcoming and it's just unreal. 

"I come here every week when I can. If I'm not playing, I'm in the stands out here. 

"It has been a lifelong dream, yeah. 

"I’ve just got to keep working and keep improving. Just keep doing what I'm doing really."

His journey to standing between the sticks on the Lamex pitch started as far away from goal as possible.

But he knows exactly who he wants to emulate.

"I actually started off as a striker and literally just worked my way back down the middle of the pitch," he said. 

"I went in goal because our keeper was injured and I thought, you know what, I like this and I’m quite good at it. 

"So I’ve taken it up ever since.

"I think I'm quite like the Martinez goalkeeper type, but Peter Schmeichel, that's what I’m aiming at. I mean, he was just on a different level."

He didn't have too long to bask in the glow of his achievement, with school calling again first thing and his parents making sure his mind was on his studies.

"Yeah, straight back into school [on Wednesday]," he said.

"I'm in the middle of my mock exams for GCSE so the focus is on that. 

"Obviously, education comes first, but this was such a great experience, my parents don't mind it.

"They’re buzzing for me." 

But he finished the interview, with the confidence you would expect for someone of his age, with a cheeky wink and a promise that once his education is sorted, the future is all about football.

"[I'll be] the best keeper to walk the planet," he said with a smile.