Below is an old interview from the old fans’ forum with youth-teamer Aysnley McDonald, which has been posted below for posterity.
Name: Aynsley McDonald
Date Of Birth: 25th January 1992
Place Of Birth: Northampton
Playing Position: Anywhere in the back four, no preferance, although I am left footed.
R&D Appearences: 1 – Rushden 4-2 Northampton Spencer (Hillier Senior Cup).
Former Clubs: Earls Barton Utd
International: 6 Wales Under 16 Caps
Do you see yourself breaking into the first team in the next few years?
Well, I would like to play in the Hillier Senior Cup again and get a good run in that team… but as far as the league is concerned i am unsure. The first team are really pushing to go up this season and The Gaffer wants to get promotion so i think it will be over the next 2 or 3 years if he thinks im good enough.
Does Garry Hill get involved with the youth team?
The Gaffer always supports us and asks us personally how we getting on. He couldn’t really attend many youth games as the first team had a busy season which was disappointing but understandable. Kevin Hales used to come to quite a lot of the games and let Garry know how we are getting on.
How will the lack of funding for the youth team effect you? Or will it effect you?
The money we wont be getting this year doesnt affect the Under 18’s, only the Under 16’s downwards, so I have been quite lucky going full time this year. Its dissapointing that we haven’t been given the money as our youth teams are very good and we beat most teams we play. Some considerably higher than us i might add.
So you are going full time then?
I will be going full time as of 30th June, which means i wont be going to college or sixth form or anything like that, and focusing solely on Rushden & Diamonds. We took on 9 scholars this year which is a good number as other clubs take on 6 or 7. It just means we have a big squad next season and that we all have to battle for our places in the hope some of us progress to the first team.
Who do you think will be the next player to make the step-up from youth team to first team and why?
It won’t be any of us first year scholars because we will have our chance the following year. It would be nice to get a pro contract a year early but you have got to be playing at the top of your game consistently and/or be head and shoulders above your team-mates. Out of the second year scholars I think Sean Callcut will get offered a pro contract. He is a Centre Half, very big, good composure on the ball, and has pace to burn. He played very well for us last season.
Anyone else we should look out for in the future?
In my age group we have a few promising players that i believe could make it at the club or elsewhere if they dont make it at Rushden. Lewis Hallford currently playing for Scotland Under 17’s, Nabil Shariff is a good strong striker, and George Cox, great guy, and loves a tackle. I’ve got alot of time for him.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My Dad has played a massive part in my career taking me to games, supporting me and giving me advice etc, and im really grateful for that. But Mark Starmer the Centre of Excellence manager has developed me massively as a player and i owe a lot to him for that. I believe I wouldn’t be playing where i am if it wasnt for these two people inparticular.
What players do you admire/ aspire to be like?
Well i really like John Terry and he has been my idol for a long time, so i hope to be like him! But a little more realistic, i enjoyed watching Wayne Hatswell play when he was at the club because I think I play similarly to him. When I played with Chris Hope I learnt so much and he always gives me advice so i look to learn as much from him as possible.
Do you think he is suited to his new role as player-coach then?
Hopey is a great captain and everyone has a lot of respect for him. Personally i think he will be fine and it will make the club even better, but im unsure if being assistant and skipper will be too much to cope with. He has got bags of experience though, so i think he will be absolutely fine and do a great job.
Where do you realistically see yourself in 10 years time?
Hopefuly if I stay injury free and I can get a pro contract, becasue thats the hardest part – getting a pro. People think im good enough, but captain of a League 2 maybe League 1 team. Who knows, maybe with Rushden!
What would you say are your best attributes?
I think im good in the air for my size as im not the tallest. I communicate well and I like organising the team. I love tackling more than anything, unfortunately though I miss time them sometimes and got booked 5 times last year. This is something i will be working on next year though.
Does Paris Cowan-Hall have what it takes to make it at the highest level?
Paris is a great player, I played with him for 2 years, we really got on and we always bantered each other. Training was good with him in it because he was a lively character. I think he has got the potential to make it at the highest level as he has got natural abilities already, he just has to work on the areas of weakness he posses. To answer the question, yeah he has got an outstanding chance.
Finally, Wales are currently playing a lot of young players in the build up to the next world cup qualifying campaign. If you were to become a first team player in th coming years, would being at Rushden & Diamonds hinder your chances of a full international call-up? If so would you be forced to leave?
Wales are giving a lot of young players the chance to gain a cap at senior level and thats what every footballer looks to do represent their country. In all honesty i enjoyed the time i had at Under 16s Wales football team and I learnt so much, it made me a better player, but I cant see myself representing the country again in the near future because there was alot of competition for places and I feel I need to improve to get to the next level. Being at a club like Rushden doesn’t hinder me in any way. Simeon played for Canada in the Under 20 World Cup at Diamonds and he has done fine, progressing further in the process. If you are good enough you will get picked in my opinion regardless of what club you play for.