Date: Wed 28 Jun 2023

By Steve Whitney

Ball Swoops for Stanley

Jimmy Ball, manager of Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South club AFC Totton, has added more goalscoring prowess to his squad with the signing of prolific young striker Alfie Stanley from league rivals Dorchester Town.

Stanley joined Portsmouth’s schoolboy ranks when he was just 7 years-old, and remained with the Fratton Park club for 12 years, during which he developed an enviable reputation for his ability to consistently find the back of the net.

His first involvement in men’s senior football came during a loan spell with Isthmian League side Bognor Regis Town in September 2020, for whom he scored twice in 6 league games.

Two months later, the youngster was handed his Portsmouth first team debut in a 1-0 defeat to West Ham United’s unbder-23s in the Papa John’s Trophy before going on to make the starting line up again for a subsequent match against Cheltenham Town.

However, in the absence of an under-23 team at Fratton Park, Stanley was one of several prospects to have come through the under-18s who were then released by the club in a move that attracted controversy and criticism from fans and the local press at the time.

Stanley, who is a life-long Pompey supporter – having grown up in the city and been a season ticket holder for many years – was initially thrown a lifeline by the then new manager Danny Cowley, who offered him a new deal to remain at the club, only to then withdraw the offer within a few weeks.

Disappointed to have been released by his boyhood club, Stanley was determined to find his way back into the game quickly.

He joined up with Burnley’s under-23 squad for a week-long training camp in Scotland, before eventually signing for Dorchester in September 2021, where he soon established himself as a fans’ favourite with a second-half hat-trick away to Tiverton Town, which he completed with a long-range lob from the half-way line.

Within six weeks of Stanley’s arrival at the Avenue Stadium, the ex-AFC Totton management duo of Glenn Howes and James Wood made their sudden departures from the Snows Stadium to take over the reins of the Dorset club, and Stanley was named in the starting XI for their first match in the Magpies hotseat – an Isuzu FA Trophy Third Qualifying Round match at Totton in which the newly-appointed Dan Sackman led the Stags to a famous 2-0 victory.

Dorchester finished just above the relegation zone in the 2021/22 season, largely thanks to Stanley’s haul of 14 league goals which proved to be enough to earn him the club’s player of the year accolade.

He followed that with another 11 league goals, contributing to a healthier mid-table finish for the Magpies last season.

Alfie’s father Chris Stanley was also a footballer. He was a midfielder who Jimmy Ball signed for Portsmouth when he was on the Fratton Park coaching staff, and he also played alongside Paul Masters at Havant & Waterlooville.

The 21-year-old was present when the majority of the squad reported back to the Snows Stadium for their pre-season weigh-in and physical assessment last Saturday, which also served as a short media session.

He spoke of his satisfaction at having sealed the deal that will see him continue to pose problems for Step 3 defences in the season ahead.

“When I came to meet Jimmy Ball and CEO Steve Brookwell, they showed me around the facilities and told me about their ambitions for the club. I was well aware of how well Totton did last season and of the growing reputation of the coaching set-up and the playing squad, so it didn’t take long for me to realise that this was the right move for me,” explained Stanley.

“The club is well-suited to the way I want to play and to what I want to achieve in the game, so I see this as a great opportunity to get plenty of games and, hopefully, score lots of goals to help the team go as high as it can. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Stags boss Jimmy Ball was pleased to confirm Stanley’s signing: “Alfie’s goalscoring record stands for itself and, of course, he has experience of playing well at the level that we’re now moving up to, which is important and should help us. His dad was a fantastic player and, from what I’ve learned by speaking to several people in the game whose footballing opinions I respect and trust, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree”.

(Ben Rochey-Adams>

AFC Totton Web Site

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