Striker follows long line of ex-players now playing professionally, writes Andrew Warshaw
What do Rian McLean, Corey Whitely, Josh Davison and Mo Faal all have in common?
Those who follow Enfield Town FC will know that they all played for the club, but perhaps more significantly, they have all gone on to sign professional terms with league teams several divisions higher.
Faal is the latest name to make the move to the professional ranks, switching in January to Bolton Wanderers, four steps higher in the footballing pyramid, after regularly banging in the goals for the Towners and drawing a succession of scouts at both home and away games.
Everyone connected with Enfield Town was disappointed to see Mo go, such was his special ability, but everyone likewise wished him well. It was pretty clear from the outset that he could easily play at a higher level and his departure once again highlighted the extent to which the club manages to identify stars in the making and nurture them accordingly.
Back in 2016, under a previous management regime, Whitely moved to Dagenham and Redbridge and is now on Newport County’s books, though currently on loan at Bromley. As for the other two, McLean swapped Enfield for Doncaster Rovers a year ago while Davison last October sealed a dream move to Charlton Athletic after playing for Enfield as a teenager, making his first-team debut just a week after signing for the League One club.
Enfield fans may rue the loss of such talents but it’s a huge testament to the club that they manage to uncover these gems in the first place. Some come through the non-league ranks, others who have initially failed to make the grade with professional clubs are given a second chance. The message? Come to Enfield Town if you want to put yourself in the shop window.
Enfield Town vice-chairman Paul Millington told the Dispatch:“The management team we have in place under Andy Leese probably don’t get the credit they deserve, identifying these types of players and providing the necessary coaching to improve them and making them attractive propositions to professional clubs.”
The big downside is that the club, despite all its efforts in nurturing players, does not receive a single penny if those who move on were not on contract. Sadly, it’s a fact of life at non-league level. Even when they are on contract, clubs unwilling to pay a fee will invariably wait until such deals end in the summer before swooping.
“It can be very frustrating,” says Paul who, like many others, would like the system tweaked so that some kind of compensation can be paid, perhaps based on a sliding scale. Sadly it’s unlikely to happen, much to the detriment of clubs like Enfield Town.