League sponsors Vanarama meet the young man who is impressing many on and off the pitch.
Professional footballers. It’s perhaps only politicians who get a harder time than those who lace up their boots for a living.
If you don’t love the game, it’s fashionable to dig out players – usually because they are earning for doing something that they love.
At home by 2pm and paid well to put a ball in the back of the net, there’s no barbs a pro hasn’t heard.
But if you know anyone who thinks being a footballer is an easy life full of reward, then maybe you should introduce them to Alfy Whittingham. His story would change the views of anyone and inspire those looking to make their name.
“I actually approached the manager Danny Searle in the summer directly,” said the 21-year-old, with Hungerford Town last season. “I sent him a little video to show him what I could do. If you don’t try, you will never get anywhere. Anything is worth a go.
“I knew it was a real off chance he would be interested but then he asked me to come down on trial. He actually liked me but said there was a problem – his budget was all spent.
“It turned out actually not to be a problem. I’m just at the club for expenses, and I’m more than happy with that.
“I’m lucky because I work in a gym after we finish football so I’ve got two jobs! I work most days there until 10pm – I help run classes, I love fitness and I love being busy so I get the best of both worlds really.
“There’s not much time for a social life. Sleeping in my social life! But I want to play at the highest level I possibly can and to do that you need to make sacrifices.
“Every season I have managed to go up a level. It started really for me at AFC Portchester, then AFC Totton with a few spells at Havant in between. I just want to get as high as I can and you need to work hard and take every chance you are given.
“Aldershot have offered me this amazing opportunity to be a part of a great club and I’m going to grab it with both hands.”
A reason, perhaps, behind his big celebration after scoring his first goal against Maidenhead United.
“That’s why it meant so much to me,” he added.
“I loved it and you could tell I enjoyed it I think!
“I know I have you have to really get your head down and that’s what I’ve been trying to do. The way I see it is that the club have taken a chance on me and I need to give it everything I can.
“Nothing beats scoring a goal. It’s such a rush but I don’t want to stop there. Hopefully the manager can see how determined I am and he won’t think twice about giving me another chance.”
This weekend’s trip to Dagenham & Redbridge offers the Shots the chance to climb further away from trouble and register back-to-back wins for the first time this campaign.
“The vibe is great here, it hasn’t changed all season even though maybe we haven’t won as many games as we would have liked,” he added.
“I think the fans are starting to slowly see a side developing. Of course not knowing what league we were going to be in made things tough but we’re getting to where we need to be and we’re starting to show in our performances that improvement is there.
“Dagenham will be difficult on Saturday, no doubt about that but we’re going to go there and try to build on that past few games and see where it takes us.”
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