LIFE has a habit of throwing you a curve-ball when you least expect it. And for Max Roffey, last Saturday (7 January 2017) won’t be one he’ll forget in a hurry, writes Andy Fitzsimons.
The 17-year-old Knaphill FC youth team shot-stopper made his Combined Counties League debut against a 10-men Badshot Lea side; not as a goalkeeper, but as a striker.
Roffey, who was a surprise addition to Keith Hills’ first team squad, found himself in unfamiliar territory after Timmy Taylor was carried off injured in the 88th minute.
More accustom to defending his goal rather than running towards it, Roffey was called into action as a makeshift striker alongside Charlie Postance.
Roffey said: “The last time I played outfield was last season for my Sunday league side Mayford Athletic, so when Keith [Hills] asked me to put on a shirt I was quite nervous.
“I became a goalkeeper as I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my grandad and uncle; David and Trevor Roffey, both of whom had good careers playing for Sutton United, as well as other non-league clubs.
“For me personally, I was just excited to get a run-out for Knaphill first team. I did what I could for the team, which is what it’s about,” he added.
In response to Roffey’s debut, Knappers’ boss Hills said: “It was disappointing to loose Timmy [Taylor] so late on in the game, but with two of my three substitutes already on the pitch, there was a need to plug a gap.
“When I initially looked over at Max [Roffey] and told him to pull on Connor Close’s number six shirt, his facial expression said it all. However, he was very professional about it and just got on with it.
“Although Max was only on the pitch for five minutes or so [including stoppage time], he ran at defenders and closed defenders down without thinking about it, which impressed me. It’s hard to believe that he’s only 17,” he added.
With Richard Shelley having only recently returned to action following a four-week lay-off, Hills took the bold move to include the youngster in his squad over the more experienced shot-stopper. It was a decision that he has no regrets about either.
He said: “Last Saturday was a must-win game for both sides, but for different reasons, so we needed 11 men on the pitch. At the same time, Shelley needs pitch-time, so I thought it would be better for him to get a game with the reserves rather than sit on the bench for the first team, which prompted me to select Max.
“Since joining the club a few months ago, Max has done very well playing for the under-18s and, more recently, the reserve team. And those that I have spoken to have all sung his praises.
“Normally, when you ask a player to play out of position, you get a look of discontent. However, Max was a real credit to himself and Knaphill Football Club. He has a very bright future ahead of him,” added Hills.