Class act, is Dylan, our latest volunteer of the month!

Words John Edwards | Picture Jonathan Moore

THERE are any number of varied but equally-valuable qualities Altrincham's army of volunteers are able to call on in the many roles they fill at The J.Davidson Stadium.

Keenness is certainly one - and they don't come any keener that teenage UA92 student Dylan Barlow.

Just a couple of months into his first term at the Stretford-based campus, the 19-year old was still getting to grips with his physical education course when he spotted an Alty stall at a careers fair and wandered over to find out more.

Coming up with a suitable placement for him wasn't too difficult. He was up for anything, and in no time at all, he was alongside Steve Foster in the dressing room at The J.Davidson Stadium, learning the ropes as the Alty kit man's new willing helper.

That was back in November, and, four months on, he's still combining the two roles of studying at uni and keeping Alty's players smartly attired as Foz's right-hand man with an enthusiasm that is infectious.

In recognition of all that hard work, and the personable and ever-smiling way it is undertaken, the club are delighted to announce that Dylan is the latest recipient of a £30 Blanchflower voucher as Alty Volunteer of the Month.

Reflecting on his introduction to Alty, via interim chief executive Sam Mackenzie, and his involvement so far, Huddersfield-born Dylan said: "I've always wanted to be involved in football in some capacity, and I played to a decent standard at Brighouse Town and for Calderdale. I was a centre-half and I got to train with the first team at Brighouse, which was a great experience.

"But I stopped enjoying it when it became really serious and competitive, so it was clear I wasn't going to have a career as a player. That's when I concentrated on getting in at UA92, and when I saw Sam at the careers fair, I went straight over and asked if there might be anything for me.

"She told me to get in touch with Foz, which I did, and when he said to get along to the ground, I didn't need any second invitation. I was so keen to get involved, I was prepared to do anything, but it couldn't have worked out better, because I love everything about the job alongside Foz. It's great - I've loved every minute.

"It's not just about making sure the kit is laid out properly. There are lots of daily tasks that need doing, and there's a lot of work involved in making sure everything is set up properly before games. The warm-ups before kick-off are important as well, and we're out there on the pitch, ensuring everything is where it should be.

"They're long hours - we're first in, last out - and I travel to away games as well, which often means getting back home in the early hours. It can be quite draining, but it's well worth it. It's all great experience for me, and it's a great club to work for. I could tell from day one there's a great connection between the club and fans, and that makes it a special place.

"The players have been really good with me. There's always plenty of banter flying about, as you might expect, and, so far, I've found Regan Linney to be one of the really funny ones. He's always having a laugh with me, and whenever I speak with him, he has this cheeky way about him that you can't help laughing at. I think every team needs someone like Regan in the dressing room."

While several other UA92 students have spent a few days at The J.Davidson Stadium for work experience in recent weeks, it appears Dylan is putting down roots.

"I'm hoping to complete the full three years of the course at uni, so I'd love to carry on at Alty and do three seasons here," he said. "After that, who knows? I'm not going to be a physio or nutritionist, and I do really enjoy the work this role involves. If it does turn out to be a career path for me, it's got to look good on my cv that I've had this much work experience at such a young age at a club like Alty. That should stand me in good stead."

Dylan's family approve, too.

"They've been over to a few games to see me, and they're pleased as anything," he said. "I've got younger twin brothers, who both play. Lewis has a scholarship at FC Halifax Town and Callum is decent as well, and it's good for them to see me working in a professional environment.

"They'll be really chuffed when they hear I've won this award. It's nice to have your efforts recognised, and honestly I feel really honoured."

Altrincham v Oxford City 12:15 Kick Off

Altrincham FC

Altrincham v Oxford City 12:15 Kick Off

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