Football in Bracknell
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Maidenhead United’s Sam Barratt on preparing for a Vanarama National League campaign

The former Woodley and Bracknell youngster has signed on for another season at York Road

Maidenhead United’s Sam Barratt on preparing for a Vanarama National League campaign

We like to keep in touch with how former Bracknell Town winger Sam Barratt is doing particularly after recent posts about trials at Premier League and League 1 clubs, so with pre season just about to get underway we thought we’d ask the youngster how he’s preparing for Maidenhead United’s first season in the Vanarama National League Premier

What a season it was for you at Maidenhead, how are things setting up for the season ahead?

Yeah, it was a sensational season – something I feel very privileged to have been a big part of! We start back to training soon and will be working very hard as a team, introducing a few new faces and getting fitter than ever leading into the new season. We have to be fully prepared for a tough start to next seasons campaign.

What do you think Maidenhead can achieve in the coming season?

Well we were underdogs going into the last season, no one thought we were going to challenge the title. But we worked hard as a team and kept our feet on the ground until the last minute of the season. If we do that again who knows what we can achieve. But I think it’s a big advantage going into a higher league with no expectations so we can play with freedom and pressure free

You signed a new contract this summer, is the pressure on now to establish yourself bearing in mind it is another step up?

Maidenhead United FC's Sam Barratt. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.

Maidenhead United FC’s Sam Barratt. Photo: Connor Sharod-Southam.

Yes after a lot of thought I decided I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity of playing in the national league. It’s a higher level of football, with better pitches that I think will allow me to really excel. I feel this is the season where I should be pushing to be making regular starts – but of course that’s up to me and I need to be on good form and fully fit!

How is looking on the injury front? You had a couple of weeks out toward the end of the season?

Yeah, it was a calf problem that all stemmed from an impact injury away to Bath. I was fully recovered by the end of the season and have continued my training through the off-season. I’m feeling fit and sharp now and buzzing to take that into pre-season.

You had a month at Staines Town and came back and scored on your return, was the spell a benefit?

The spell was something that really helped me last season. I was finding myself getting frustrated with the lack of game time and I knew I had to go out and play some games to have a chance of pushing back into the side. So I spoke to the gaffer [Alan Devonshire] and we came to an agreement of going to Staines that month. Eight or so games in a month really helped and I think that definitely showed in my performances after I came back [Sam scored in his first game back from the loan].

How have the trials at league clubs benefited you?

Sam Barratt's trial for Crystal Palace u23s against Bristol City. Photo: Michael Hulf/CPFC

Sam Barratt’s trial for Crystal Palace u23s against Bristol City. Photo: Michael Hulf/CPFC

For me it’s a dream to make it to pro football – and these trials only help me push myself even harder to make that dream a reality. When I’m playing at such a high standard and feeling technically comfortable in that environment it really helps to build my confidence. If I’m ever lacking confidence I just look back at these moments. If I’m being honest with myself these next two seasons are make or break and I know how hard I need to work to make that final step into pro football.

Great to hear, it’s certainly been fantastic to see a player we watched locally climb so high. What advice were you given following the Palace trial?

Keep doing what I’m doing. All that needs to be seen is what I showed – but consistently week in week out in games. Obviously there’s always bits to improve on and I feel I have worked hard on these parts over the summer with one to one training, and will continue to do so!

Do you keep in touch with any of your former Bracknell team mates and what do you make of the season the club has had?

I keep in close contact with Nebs [Steve Nebbett], and have kept in steady contact with a fair few of the lads, along with some of the people involved with the club. And they had a brilliant team this season and I came down and watched a couple of matches and I’m sure they will gain promotion next season! Love the looks of the new ground as well…it looks top notch!!

Were there offers from other clubs this summer, what made you stay at Maidenhead?

I feel every player always needs time to mull over an important decision like signing a contract. I talked to my family and close one’s about the most important thing and that is to do what was best for myself. I wasn’t sure what the future held, but after a lot of discussion with the gaffer and the club I came to the conclusion it was the right move to sign for another year! My gut feeling was to stay with the lads and the club

There were a lot of great videos of Maidenhead goals this season, Tarpey’s unbelieveable strike but the one I remember is the fan heading your free kick. What do you remember about that?

Hah! Yeah I try not to remember that free kick… wasn’t a great one!! The kid got a better connection on his header than I did with the strike!

At Maidenhead, who in training do you watch and pay attention to?

Not one person in particular. I watch my teammates more generally to see their strengths and weaknesses, so when I’m on the pitch with them playing it makes it easier to link up

Finally, there are some great old grounds in the National League this season. Which one’s are you looking forward to?

The EBB Stadium at Aldershot Town. Photo: Get Hampshire.

The EBB Stadium at Aldershot Town. Photo: Get Hampshire.

Definitely looking forward to some big away trips to teams like Hartlepool, Leyton Orient and Tranmere. But when I was a kid my dad used to take me to some Aldershot games and I vividly remember going to watch Chelsea play there and it was packed to the brim. It will bring back some old memories playing there for sure!

Thanks Sam, hopefully talk to you again soon!!

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Tom Canning

Tom is the co-editor of FootballinBracknell. He has played at the lowest possible level of football. In real life Tom works for Trinity Mirror. Manager of Binfield Ladies in the Thames Valley Women's League.

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