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Bolton Nuts » BWFC » Bolton Wanderers Banter » 'I'm just a farm boy at heart' - keeper Trafford on his rural roots

'I'm just a farm boy at heart' - keeper Trafford on his rural roots

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karlypants

karlypants
Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

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While James Trafford’s footballing upbringing has been unashamedly privileged, the young goalkeeper has no problem staying grounded when he goes back home to West Cumbria.

Since swapping Carlisle United for Manchester City at the age of 12, Trafford’s talents have been crafted in some of the most luxurious surroundings the English game has to offer.

Stepping out of the academy bubble and into the wilds of League One was seen as a big step at 19 years old, regardless of how highly his prospects were rated by Pep Guardiola and Co at the Etihad.

But Trafford believes his upbringing in the winds and rains of Greysouthern, a few miles outside Cockermouth, has helped steel him for the demands of the senior game, and he arrived at Wanderers a fortnight ago not worried about putting in a hard day’s graft.

“Working hard and being disciplined has been drilled into me since I was young,” he told The Bolton News. “It comes from my family, really, because they are all farmers.

“No-one does anything else apart from farming in my family, apart from my older cousin who is a dentist, and even that was a bit frowned upon! “He should have either been a farmer or a jockey, and it was similar to me. “I still have to explain a few things to my dad, like the offside rule, because he doesn’t really know much about football.

“It is only since I started playing at seven or eight that he had to take any notice at all but it is a good job he did or all those Sunday mornings playing at Frenchfields when I was at Carlisle would have felt really long.

“Being farmers, my mum and dad are lambing at the moment so they get up every three hours to go out and check the sheep. All that has been bred into me; be disciplined and to just work as hard as you can, really.”

Trafford could very easily have followed into the family business, never knowing the experience of playing in front of 18,000-plus, as he will surely do on Saturday when Wanderers welcome Sunderland to the UniBol.

Last Saturday, Trafford became the first Bolton keeper since Simon Farnworth in 1983 to keep a clean sheet in his first two games for the club.

But the teenager admits he is a farm boy at heart.

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“When I was younger, I was always a big farm lad,” he said. “I always played with my dad’s toy farm and, being honest, I don’t even know what got me into football. I can’t even remember.

“I always really enjoyed being on the farm and when I was in secondary school, if I wasn’t working hard, I was like ‘I’m going to be a farmer, I don’t need these grades!’ So that was my excuse, anyway, and maybe if football doesn’t work out, I will go into farming.”

“We have cows but we don’t milk them. We have sheep that we lamb. We grow crops so in the off-season I do tend to help out.

“I just tend to sit on the combine with my dad or lead barley with my dad, so he goes into the field with his trailer and gets the barley and drives. I just sit in with him because I just enjoy it as it’s what I used to do when I was a real young lad. “Before I learned to drive I had to drive a tractor around the fields. It’s something I enjoy doing in the off-season and not reminiscing, but just a reminder of the good times when I was younger.” Trafford’s first experience of League One football was a steep learning curve, and before arriving at Bolton he had spent a month sitting on the bench at Accrington Stanley.

The youngster feels more comfortable with the playing style at Wanderers but said it had always been his intention to try something different in the second half of the season.

“I had my heart set on going out and playing, whether it was League Two, League One or even abroad,” he said. “I just wanted to play and develop. It doesn’t really matter what level as I’ve only just turned 19.

"Obviously, I want to play as high as I can but then as soon as Bolton came in for me, it was a no brainer. “Even though there was a lot of pressure, I didn’t really feel it but from the outside and other people looking in would have seen ‘there’s a lot of pressure on this young lad’ especially getting thrown straight in.

"Maybe it would have been a move that other people in my position would have said no to, just because of the pressure and the feel if it goes wrong. “But as soon as my agent told me, I said yeah, I want to come into Bolton. I’ve seen how they played, and they play how I want to play. It was a no brainer and I really wanted to do it.”

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While the welcome at Bolton had been a little on the lukewarm side, as some supporters voiced their concern at Trafford’s lack of experience, within 70 minutes of his debut the chants of “England’s Number One!” were drifting from the stands.

“I saw bits of what people were saying,” he said. “And it was nothing personal on me, the stick I was getting. “They were just tweeting and people would rather tweet bad news than good news. I just want to keep contributing and make the chants louder.

“When I came out to Bolton I discussed it with the goalie staff at City and they wanted me to play – but also to develop as a person, just get into the mindset of being a pro.

“You have to be at it every day, no matter whether you are enjoying it or not. And you have to perform in front of thousands at the weekend because when you are at this level there are no small crowds anymore. You have to handle the pressure that comes with it.”

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