Luke Trotman and Isaac Galliford on international duty with England C. Picture: David Loveday
By Matt Badcock
Playing for your country is always special but how about pulling on an England shirt alongside your best friend!
That’s exactly what happened for Darlington defender Luke Trotman and Hitchin Town attacker Isaac Galliford.
They may now play their football 208 miles apart, but the pair have known each other since they were three years old.
In fact, Trotman says he only ended up playing because of Galliford as they grew up in the same teams, eventually ending up at Luton Town together.
They were released in the same year and their paths, although different, remarkably brought them back together on England C duty in Estonia.
“I actually went to nursery with him!” Trotman tells The NLP, in England C’s Tallinn hotel. “I met him when we were three. We played for the same Sunday League team, Luton United. I basically played football because he did. I just thought, ‘I’ll go along because Isasc is’.
“We then both went to Crawley Green. We had a decent team. James Justin, who is at Luton, Tyler Reid, who has just gone to Swindon.
“We then all went to Luton and from nine to 19 we were there together.
“It’s weird because they even sent us on loan to the same teams, we were released the same year and now we’re here together.
“He played in a Rep game and said he did well so he thought he might have a chance of getting in the squad – we had our fingers crossed. It’s been good having him here – it brings back memories.”
While it was a memorable evening for the best mates, it was a unique experience all round for Trotman. On the day of earning his second cap he had an exam!
A bad leg break at Luton prompted the 22-year-old to enrol on a Banking, Finance & Management degree at Loughborough University.
Proud to get the call-up, he did all he could to make sure he could still play for England despite being due to take two exams.
It meant he arrived at the England’s Bedfordshire FA training base early on Monday to sit his Accounting for Management Decisions test. Then on the day of the game, he had a two-hour window to take the Financial Derivatives paper.
“I had to get up at half-six to get to the training ground for the one on Monday,” Trotman explains.
“Tuesday was a rest day when we arrived in Estonia so I had to revise and then on the day of the game I had a financial derivatives exam. It was weird to go from that to getting your football head on.
“I didn’t really think about the actual game until after the exam had finished, so I didn’t have long to switch on to the game. Considering, I thought I had an OK game. If you ask Kurt Willoughby I was up until about 12.30 revising and then thought I better get some sleep!
“Organising this was tough. I had to email five people during the week to make sure the exam was sent here – I obviously can’t touch the exam until I sit it so it’s a credit to James Earl and Gemma Stubbles at the FA. Gemma drew the short straw because she had to invigilate both of them and sit in a room with me. It’s a credit to them because everything went fine.”
And Trotman says more Non-League footballers should consider combining studying with playing at a decent standard.
“The level we’re at, if we’re honest, we’re not going to earn enough money to be able to not work for the rest of our lives like people in the Premier League,” he says. “Some people say they want to get it at the end of their career, but with the injury I got, it is the right time for me to get it now.
“The way Non-League football is, part-time, I think it works. Non-League football is a good level and getting better every year, so I’d definitely suggest to lads maybe getting released at 18 it’s a route to go down.
“Matt Lowe is in this squad and he’s doing a degree as well. I think more lads are seeing the benefits of it. Say you get an injury at 25, you can be out of the game and panicking. It’s nice to have Plan B, but still work as hard as you can to get as high as you can in football.”
Isaac Galliford says playing for England alongside childhood pal Luke Trotman was the stuff of dreams.
The 22-year-old Hitchin Town attacker came on from the bench and linked up with full-back Trotman on the right-hand side.
“We near enough have played for the same clubs our whole lives,” Galliford, whose dad Robert was in Tallinn to watch the game, said. “We’ve grown up best friends so to play in the same team and represent our country is amazing really – it’s what dreams are made of.
“We spoke as soon as we knew we were in the squad and we were just excited for the whole experience. He’s at Uni so I don’t see him as much as I used to so coming out here to play with him was a privilege. We’ve been on different journeys but hopefully we can aspire to our dreams of becoming professional footballers again.”
Galliford has been getting rave reviews for talent that is showing at Hitchin and this England C cap has topped off his campaign nicely.
He scored a best-ever 16 goals for the Southern League Premier Central side and was so close to grabbing another for his country when his 20-yard free-kick hit the post.
“It’s probably one of the sweetest ones I’ve hit,” said Galliford, who has since signed for Hemel Hempsted Town. “When I saw it rocket back off the post, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it might nick the post and go in. Unfortunately, it bounced out.
“The experience has been unreal. It’s my first call-up to England C, the staff and boys have been great – it’s been a very professional trip.
“It’s great to get noticed. We probably didn’t have the greatest season team wise, but I’m glad they noticed me and gave me the opportunity to come out here and show what I can do.”