Ahead of Charlton Athletic’s annual Academy Day, Valley Gold spoke to Addicks goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer about his background, his future ambitions and what the Charlton way means to him.
Can you talk us through your journey at the club and also a bit of background about yourself?
“My Charlton journey started when I was 14 or 15. I was living in Perth, Australia but had family over in the UK. I came over for a week for a trial through Andy Peterson who had played for Charlton. I had a week-long trial and did quite well, signed on at 16 and I’ve been here for five or six years now.”
How has the academy helped improve you as a player?
“There are so many great coaches in the academy. The initial two years since coming over from Australia as a scholar, the club really looked after me. They paid for my flights home and allowed me to adjust to English football and living in the UK. There’s a lot of fantastic coaching staff who allowed me to adapt from Australian football to the intensity of the English game.”
Charlton have a history of bringing great goalkeepers through, how does this make you feel as a goalkeeper yourself at the club?
“There were very good goalkeepers when I signed at the time, a lot of good goalkeepers have also come through during the years I’ve been here. That means I’ve had a lot of great role models to learn off. Obviously, Dill (Dillon Phillips) who came through the academy. Nick Pope who was here when I signed. Ben Amos, Declan Rudd. They were all keepers that I grew up looking at and was able to play with. It was great to train and learn from them.”
Speaking of goalkeepers, were there any other players you looked up to growing up – Charlton aside?
“I love Petr Cech. These are the guys that you watch on the TV when you’re in Australia, feeling miles away from it. Joe Hart I loved Jack Butland too. Casillas, Petr Cech. They’re all goalkeepers I loved to watch as a kid.”
You’ve had various loans away from the club over the past couple of season’s, most recently at Dover – how have these helped our development?
“Hugely. Getting amongst competitive football. It’s difficult to recreate that competitiveness in the Under 23’s, and there’s a gap between that level of football and the first team. Going away to the Conference South, Conference Premier teams. Coming in, being part of the men’s environment is completely different. Playing competitive football means you learn so many things and are in different situations that you don’t get put in when you play Under 23’s football. If those players see a weakness, they try to exploit it. Corners are getting whipped in on top of you, if a player is 30 yards from goal and not being closed down he will take the shot. You get put in difficult situations.”
This season has seen you have a more vital role, acting as the second choice goalkeeper – how excited are you for this season and how have you adapted to a more important role?
“I’m loving it. I was in the third keeper role, learning off the other two for quite some time. It was great but it got to a point where I had to look at pushing on. I’m really happy that the club have put their trust in me as a number two and let me step up for some of the cup games recently. It’s great being a part of it and being involved in these match days.”
What are your future ambitions?
“I want to break into the Charlton team and get a run of games. I’m focusing more in the short term. I want to be as prepared as possible, train hard and learn off Ben Amos and Marshy, the goalkeeping coach. When my time comes to play first team games I want to be in a good position.”
Are you aware of Valley Gold and do you have a message for the supporters?
“The mini vans, the dugouts. Everyone at Valley Gold does so much for the academy. Thank you so much for helping out the academy. The academy is such a massive part of the first team at Charlton. You can see the way we’ve brought through players, helped them mature and come into the first team. Your support is greatly appreciated.”
What does the Charlton way mean to you?
“It’s just a few small details. Present yourself well, play hard but fair and have that winning mentality. As a scholar especially it’s helping out, doing a few jobs, helping your mates and a few different things like that really.”
Article by Nick Emms