Hometown boy Alex Harris grateful to boss Nick Ironton for first-team debut at Welwyn Garden City

PUBLISHED: 06:45 27 May 2020

Nick Ironton has been thanked by Alex Harris for handing the youngster his Welwyn Garden City debut. Picture: DANNY LOO

Nick Ironton has been thanked by Alex Harris for handing the youngster his Welwyn Garden City debut. Picture: DANNY LOO

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It’s not only Sir Alex Ferguson who can unleash the hairdryer on underperforming players – Welwyn Garden City’s Nick Ironton is in a similar mould, but for one of the club’s younger talents that is something he thrives on.

Welwyn Garden City Football Club's U18 side from the 2018-2019 season. Picture: WGC FCWelwyn Garden City Football Club's U18 side from the 2018-2019 season. Picture: WGC FC

Alex Harris made the step up from the Citizens’ U18 side into the first team during the voided season just gone and saw first-hand how the former FA Trophy winner, secured via a 1-0 win over Altrincham while playing for Enfield in 1982, tried to motivate his troops.

“I love that managerial style to be honest,” he said with a laugh”. “You have to keep people on their toes and that’s the best way for me, the old-school, traditional managers.

“You need to know when you’ve had a bad game and he’ll definitely let you know.

“I don’t take it personally but I bet some players do.”

Welwyn Garden City Football Club's Alex Harris. Picture: WGC FCWelwyn Garden City Football Club's Alex Harris. Picture: WGC FC

Harris is just about to set forth on an adventure to the United States, having signed a football scholarship at Hawkeye Community College in Waterloo, Iowa, just west of Chicago and Milwaukee.

But he leaves on the back of that debut season in the first-team of his hometown club, something for which he gives Ironton huge amounts of respect and gratitude.

And pulling on the claret shirt is a moment the youngster will never forget.

He said: “It’s been brilliant, especially as I’m from Welwyn Garden City.

“We used to go down and just watch the games and I always thought it would be great to play there one day.

“I started this year in the U18s and the start of the season Nicky called me up to play in pre-season friendlies against Luton and that.

“I played against Hitchin Town on my debut [in the Southern League Cup, back in November] which was great.

“I didn’t expect to start but he threw me in and I had an alright game.

“I’ve only made seven appearances or so but the whole season has been great.

“To step into men’s football, I can’t think Nicky enough.”

The former Ridgeway Academy pupil leaves for the US just as Welwyn announced the formation of an U23 side, set to play in the Herts Senior County League Premier Division next season.

They hope it will help more of the town’s talented youngsters make the step up and Harris wholeheartedly believes it can.

“It’s a great opportunity for the U18s,” he said. “It is a big step to make and if it is a mixture of the 18s playing with some first-team lads then it is a great way to not only get them familiar with men’s football but also to get them integrated in the squad.

“It makes it easier to make the step both socially and ability-wise.

“The style of football is completely different from U18s and it does take some getting used to so I think this is a great way to do it.”

To read all about Alex Harris’s scholarship to the US go to www.whtimes.co.uk/sport


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