Boyhood Rovers fan in Dreamland after being offered a professional contract with the Club.
Billy Whitehouse is one of four Doncaster Rovers youth team players to have been offered a professional contract with the club, who will all be hoping to impress their new gaffer Paul Dickov, and follow in the footsteps of former youth team member, James Husband who is now a first team regular.
“I started playing Sunday League football when I was younger and progressed from there. I signed for Doncaster Rovers when I was 12, and I just worked hard since then to try and get a place in the youth team.”
Whitehouse made 22 appearances for Doncaster Rovers Under 18’s in what has been a successful season for them, finishing 2nd in the Youth Alliance North East Conference League.
“We had quite a slow start to the season. Our aim was to finish first but we had a bad run at the beginning, but from mid season towards the end we had a really good season. We were beating teams with high scores, playing good football and some of us have been rewarded with contracts which I think is deserved. We would have loved to have finished first, but Bradford got off to a flyer and were excellent all season. Whilst the second half of our season was much better, we were never going to catch them. Last season we finished second as well, but now the aim is to keep progressing as the younger lads come through and try and push for that first spot.
“I feel like I’ve had a good season, I started off quite slow but worked hard to progress and was given my chance in the reserve squad. It’s been a good season for a lot of players and personally I think I’ve done well. I’ve got a lot of assists and created some good chances so individually I feel I’ve had a successful season.”
When the Youth Alliance League came to a close, the youngsters were left awaiting their fate- would they be a Doncaster Rovers footballer next season? Whitehouse described this moment as ‘horrible’ as no one knew what their next step would be.
“It was a horrible moment. You never know what your next move is going to be, obviously there’s always options available but it was a really hard time for us. Our season finished and we were left waiting for the decisions to be made.”
Knowing Whitehouse is a lifelong Rovers supporter, he was asked what it felt like the moment he was offered a professional contract with the club.
“It is a dream come true, especially to sign for Doncaster. I’ve been a Rovers supporter since I was a boy and it’s brilliant to train with the people that I looked up to as a young lad, the likes of James Coppinger and Richie Wellens. It’s been a great experience and is a dream come true.”
“As youth team players we do a lot of jobs for the first team lads such as cleaning boots, setting up equipment and sometimes we’re lucky enough to train with them. If we’re picked to play in the reserve team we might even get to play with them. It’s a great experience to be involved with lots of good footballers and it’s massive for our development. You learn new things every day. When you’re part of the youth team you still have a lot to learn, so being around the first team is great. If you do anything wrong they are always there to help you out which is always going to be beneficial to us.”
The latest coup for Rovers means that 15 players have now made the transition from youth team to first team in the last three years. The 2013/14 season has seen first team appearances from James Husband, Liam Wakefield and Alex Peterson, all of which have come through the Doncaster Rovers youth system and shown that hard work can lead to a chance in the first team.
“The gaffer has proved that he will play the younger lads if they work hard. James has done really well the last two seasons and Jon Maxted has also been on the bench for a couple of years, so it proves if you work hard and you deserve it you will get your chance. I’ve just got to keep working hard for this season coming up.
“Next season is going to be a rollercoaster, but I’ve just got to keep working hard and try my best to push for that position in the first team squad.”
Doncaster Rovers Youth Development System is part funded by the Rovers Alliance. The Alliance is an exclusive members club for Doncaster Rovers fans. The purpose of the Alliance is to raise vital funds for the Club’s youth development system, whilst giving members a closer link to Doncaster Rovers and the chance to win cash prizes, as well as ‘money can’t buy’ experiences.
Membership costs just £2.25 per week and is packed full of fantastic benefits. Every penny raised is invested into the Youth Academy to help develop Doncaster Rovers players of the future such as youngsters Liam Wakefield, Alex Peterson, Jonathan Maxted and James Husband, all who have been named in first team squads this season and came through the Doncaster Rovers Youth Academy.
Of the Alliance, Whitehouse said: “The Rovers Alliance is massive. There are a lot of players who have come through the last 3 or 4 years and been offered pro contracts, so the development and the support they receive is huge for them to get their chance in the first team.”
For more information on the Rovers Alliance please call 01302 764664 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org