PRIVATELY educated Will Hatfield can’t promise that his schooling was money well spent.

“My mum and dad would probably say not,” conceded the 21-year-old, who attended West Yorkshire’s Woodhouse Grove, where fees for Years 7 to 10 start at a whopping £10,650 per annum.

Notable alumni include former British women’s number one tennis star Katie O’Brien.

Hatfield is aiming to make a name for himself in football, now that his first full year at Accrington Stanley has led to a second.

New boss James Beattie quickly earmarked the versatile and willing attacking midfielder as one to keep going into the 2013/14 season – his first in management.

And it’s under the former England striker that Hatfield is looking forward to continuing his football education.

“It was a strange season really,” he said of last term, in which Stanley achieved Football League safety in the penultimate game.

“Towards the end it was a great experience playing with players like Beattie and Francis Jeffers, being around them all the time and getting advice from them. I think it helped everyone really, not just myself.

“We had a good run and finished strongly. I want to continue that,” said the former Leeds youngster, who hit the headlines by scoring all four goals as the Reds avoided a banana skin in the FA Cup first round at AFC Fylde.

A career-first hat-trick for former Leeds United youngster Hatfield secured a 4-1 win in early November.

But he found himself largely out of the starting line-up soon after, until mid-March.

“I started off really well and mid-season I found myself out of the team for whatever reason, but I didn’t go on about it, I got on with it and luckily I got back into the team at an important time,” he said.

“I established myself, and I just want to continue that and be an important player for the team.”

The Yorkshireman counts it as a compliment that Beattie made efforts to secure his services for his inaugural campaign in charge.

“He was straight on the phone to me wanting me to sign up,” he added. “Now that I have I’m delighted and I just want to get started and do well for him.

“I’ve had a few conversations with him and everything he’s said has been positive,” said Hatfield, who believes the Reds have picked the right man to succeed Leam Richardson, although he admits there may be a few fines if the former Blackburn Rovers and Everton striker insists on being called ‘Gaffer’.

“Probably,” he laughed. “I think it will be weird the first couple of days but it’s part of your job and you just get used to it.

“Once we get started I’m sure it will be fine. But I’m sure he’ll be laid back and take it in his stride.

“I think he’s got everything a manager needs. He’ll be easy to talk to and he’ll be giving great advice – he’s got a lot of experience in the game too. I’m looking forward to working with him.

“With Beattie and Stevo (Paul Stephenson) in charge I think we’re going to have a good season.

“We finished really strong and had a good team spirit towards the end and played some good football. If we can get the majority of the players from last season signed up then we’ll have a real good go at it this season coming. I’m looking forward to it.”

But an alternative field could easily have opened up to the Accrington Stanley star.

As a 16-year-old, Hatfield was faced with a choice. He was starring as an opening batsman for Yorkshire’s youth side, while at the same time progressing with Leeds United’s youth team.

He could have forged a career in either, but his heart was always in football.

Recently, he has seen former county cricket team-mates break onto the international scene.

“I’ve been watching the Test matches,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of friends who play in the England team – Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root. They’re doing really well, so it’s nice to know people like that,” he smiled.

He could be forgiven for wondering ‘what if?’. Sometimes, he admits, he does.

But he has no regrets about his career defining decision.

“I do sometimes think where would I be now if I’d have stuck with cricket,” he said.

“I always played cricket for Yorkshire when I was 13 to 16, so I had a choice at 16 whether to go down the cricket route and play for Yorkshire, but at the time I was also at Leeds. I’d been there since I was eight years old.

“So I decided football, and hopefully it can continue to be a good choice.”

With a number of other cricket connections though, he admits there’s no escape.

“I watch cricket all the time – both my sisters’ boyfriends play for Yorkshire first team so I’m always looking at the cricket news,” he said.

“I’m happy with the choice I made to become a footballer.

“I’ve been playing since I was very young, and since then I’ve always wanted to be a professional footballer. It’s every young boy’s dream and hopefully it can continue.”