Alex Finney began his career at League Two side Leyton Orient before moving to League One club Bolton Wanderers in 2014, making three appearances for The Wanderers. Finney then joined Queen’s Park Rangers in 2016 but failed to make an appearance for the West London club and he was loaned out to Maidstone.
Finney then joined Maidstone permanently before joining Aldershot Town in December 2018 on a free transfer. He won man of the match on his debut against Wrexham and he has been reliant ever since. Finney discusses that Man of the Match performance, his time at Leyton Orient and Bolton, Maidstone days and some interesting hobbies too.
From the beginning, where did football start for you?
“It started for me in Sunday League. I played for my local team called Ridgeway Rovers.
“I remember having a lot of fun there, enjoying my football.”
You played at Bolton Wanderers and QPR. What was life like at those clubs?
“It felt like more of a first-team environment at Bolton. There was a big emphasis on winning. It was all about the winning mentality. You had to find a way to win and not lose too many games.
“In comparison to that, QPR was in a development u23s environment. It was more about improving yourself and getting to the next step. We had to think of things to add to our game that would make us stand out.”
Both of those clubs were former Premier League sides. Was it really hard there to get into the first-team set-up?
“In the QPR first team, there were a lot of good players in front of me. I stayed on the bench a lot and I wasn’t getting as much football as I would’ve liked.
“At Bolton, I was given my league debut so it happened for me more at Bolton than it did at QPR. There were better chances for me but I wouldn’t say it was easier.”
At Bolton and QPR, are there any players that you played with that fans would recognise now?
“At Bolton, I played with Rob Holding who is now at Arsenal. There was Conor Wilkinson who was at Dagenham & Redbridge last year but he plays for Leyton Orient now. There is also Hayden White who plays for Mansfield Town. There was a lot of boys at Bolton who were so talented. I was lucky to play with a few of them.
“At QPR, there was Eberechi Eze who is there in the first-team now and Ilias Chair who is in the first-team now. There are loads of names at QPR who have come through the academy and done really well.”
After that, you went to Maidstone United. How important were they to making you the player you are today?
“I learnt a lot there. When I went to Maidstone, it allowed me to understand the business aspect of football more than I did before. I understood how a football club was run.
“When I got injured, I came back and carried on doing well which is something I found hard before. I was playing well but I wasn’t getting as many opportunities as I would’ve liked. It goes to show in football that you have to take the chance you get or they may be limited in the future.
“We started well last season but we started slipping and we were in real trouble with relegation. We had a win by any means mentality and there were a lot of ups and downs that season.”
Were there any main highlights from Maidstone United?
“We had a very good FA Cup run. We played MK Dons at their stadium and we played some other good teams as well.
“The thing that stands out to me the most were the fans, manager and the team. They had a real good set-up down there and I enjoyed my time at Maidstone.”
How did the move to Aldershot town come about after Maidstone?
“I was struggling a little bit. I wasn’t in the best form under our manager. One day, the manager just turned around to me and said that my game time was going to be limited. He thought he could bring in people that he trusted more than me at the back as so many games were crucial to us.
“It was understandable. It gets to a certain extent that it’s his job on the line and he has to trust me to go out there and stop the goals going in. I had a meeting with the previous Aldershot Town manager, Gary Waddock but we couldn’t reach an agreement.
“I ended up going back and seeing out the rest of my contract at Maidstone before joining Aldershot.”
When you joined Aldershot Town, you got your debut against Wrexham. Did you expect it to go as well as it did with a Man of the Match performance?
“I didn’t think I deserved to get Man of the Match that day because I felt that I could’ve improved certain aspects of my game. I felt I could’ve been a little bit better in that game.
“I didn’t expect it to go that well but I didn’t expect it to go bad either.”
What have you learnt under the current manager, Danny Searle this season?
“I’ve learnt a lot of things. He has a different style to the manager before where we were in a stage where we had to win games. It wasn’t the prettiest at times but we were getting results and we’ve learnt as a team to go into games better.
“The chemistry in the team is better. The manager does a lot of things off the pitch to get the team together. Moving forward, it’s always a great thing to have.”
This season, who would you say has been the hardest attacking player you’ve come up against?
“There are a lot of good forwards in the National League but the hardest one is probably when I was playing left-back against Notts County, (Cal Roberts), he was a very good player.
“In my normal position which is centre-half, I think it would have to be Scott Quigley for Barrow. He was a very good player.”
Are there any hobbies or interests outside of Aldershot Town that fans don’t know you get up to?
“I think the key ones are playing Playstation and Call of Duty. I’m not a massive fan of Fortnite. I’m not a fan of games that you have to be so quick. That’s why I like COD more than Fortnite.
“I would say, I’m very competitive. I like to go bowling and anything that keeps me active. I like many sports in my spare time. I like to go to the gym also to keep my fitness up.”