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Freddie King has rediscovered his love for the game after Haverhill Rovers switch under former AFC Sudbury coach Liam Aves



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Freddie King has revealed his move to Haverhill Rovers has provided his salvation as a footballer.

Two years ago, as an AFC Sudbury striker in their academy, he was preparing to go out to play in a tournament in Italy with the England Colleges FA Men’s team.

On his return from the Roma Caput Mundi that February, having just turned 18, he had a brief trial at Championship outfit Barnsley before deciding more senior football experience was the best way forward.

Freddie King has been enjoying his football again at Haverhill Rovers. Picture: Mark Westley
Freddie King has been enjoying his football again at Haverhill Rovers. Picture: Mark Westley

It seemed big things were on the horizon in the game for the son of professional snooker player Mark King.

But the outbreak of the pandemic and the stop-start nature of non-league football over the last two ultimately abandoned seasons led him to seriously think about hanging his boots up.

“Everything was so up in the air it was so hard to prepare yourself for,” he explained.

Now a midfielder, King has been given the captain's armband by manager Liam Aves. Picture: Mark Westley
Now a midfielder, King has been given the captain's armband by manager Liam Aves. Picture: Mark Westley

“It was so difficult picking up a game here and then a month later you play again.

“I then got unfit and saw myself sitting on the bench and I’ve only really started to find my feet again at Haverhill.”

The move to Rovers, on a dual registration from higher-league Coggeshall Town following a summer switch from divisional rivals AFC Sudbury, came at the end of October and at a pivotal time.

He said: “I knew Liam (Aves, manager) through Coggeshall, Sudbury and work and he spoke to me about his role at Haverhill and told me what he wanted.

Freddie King played in a charity match at AFC Sudbury in the summer with his snooker star dad Mark King, who has been down to Haverhill Rovers to watch him Picture: Mark Westley
Freddie King played in a charity match at AFC Sudbury in the summer with his snooker star dad Mark King, who has been down to Haverhill Rovers to watch him Picture: Mark Westley

“I told him I was really unhappy playing football and thinking about quitting. He told me to come over and try it out and ever since I’ve been there I’ve loved it.”

Indeed, King’s mature performances have since led Aves to trust him with the captain’s armband following Ben Bradley’s higher-league move, while also re-invigorating his game by dropping him back into the heart of the midfield.

King said: “I had a chat with Liam and we came to the conclusion that I am too honest as a striker – I come back and try and help the midfield out too much.

Freddie King (back, second from left) with the England Colleges Men's team at the Stadio Dei Marmi stadium in Rome, Italy Picture: AoC Sport (30225804)
Freddie King (back, second from left) with the England Colleges Men's team at the Stadio Dei Marmi stadium in Rome, Italy Picture: AoC Sport (30225804)

“So we thought why not put me there and let me do the running?

“It has been very physically demanding, I must say, but I am loving it. Being on the ball and helping the others who can do the same for me.

“It is really good as you can get a better grip on what is going on.”

Carrying the captaincy is something he has also enjoyed, though keen not to make more out of it than it is.

He said: “To be honest it’s been so easy because of the people I’ve got around me.

“It’s not really like there is one captain as there is so much enthusiasm there from everyone to help each other out – the only thing I do that others do not is deal with the referee before the game, that is literally it.”

Following Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at March Town United Rovers are fourth bottom and a point off the relegation zone with second bottom Long Melford holding two games in hand.

Ahead of hosting leaders Gorleston on Saturday (3pm) the threat of relegation is certainly not weighing heavy on King’s shoulders.

“No, I don’t think it’s a worry to us to be honest with you,” he said.

“We’ve got the talent, quality and hard work so I personally think we’ll easily get out of it by around March time as we get more games under our belts together and the chemistry grows.”

Of their next opponents, who have only lost two games all season, he said: “The harder the better for us as we seem to show up in the bigger games.”