Charlton AthleticSport

Alfie May tracking his League One Golden Boot rivals – he talks coaching badges and life after football


Alfie May has scored 25 goals in an excellent first campaign at Charlton Athletic – but picks out his recent close-range finish against his former club Cheltenham Town as his most important this season.

The 30-year-old leads the League One scoring charts with 21 – four ahead of his nearest rivals, Barnsley’s Devante Cole and Stevenage’s Jamie Reid – but he had not scored from open play in 10 matches before the 3-1 win at Whaddon Road earlier this month.

May heads into today’s match at Exeter City with four goals in his last three outings.

And he cites the finish against Cheltenham as the one that boosted his belief he could finish as the division’s top scorer.

“Scoring against my old club was hard but my celebration was the fact I haven’t scored in a long while,” May, who notched 66 goals in 165 matches for Cheltenham, told the South London Press.

“There was a lot of talk about a goal drought. Strikers do go through goal droughts – it happens. I said at half-time to Paul Hart (Charlton assistant manager): ‘I just need something to go in off me’.

“I probably had six chances in the first half where I should’ve scored. I could’ve walked off after 45 minutes with a hat-trick. I know I should be scoring. So to get a tap-in in the 89th minute, that really gave me a kick up the backside and said to me: ‘This is your chance to win the Golden Boot’.

Picture: Kyle Andrews

“I set myself targets and I hit a little personal one when I scored it as well. I try and hit some personal targets every five games, I probably won’t ever say what they are.”

May has scored 73 times in the last three seasons – an average of 24 per campaign – but despite his prolificacy it has never translated into a promotion push.

“If you look at the top seven or eight (top-scorers in League One) they are at clubs that are in and around the play-offs or top two,” said May. “We know that we haven’t done as well this year  – we wanted to be around the top and get that promotion.

“What the gaffer is doing now is building for next season. It looks like it is going to be exciting times.

“He set a foundation down on the training pitch about the way we are going to play. It is bedded into us every single day.

“There shouldn’t be any faults because it is every day in training – we go over and over and over it. That’s what we’ve needed – everybody to be onside.

“We’ve all bought into the way he wants to play. It is working. It is a joy to play in and to be out there every day working hard. The energy he brings is brilliant. It was the lift we needed.

“I signed for this club to play in the Championship – to be promoted and win things. It’s a massive club. It’s not been a great season this year but everybody can see now what the gaffer is doing. We want to succeed next year.”

May had 19 goals by December 9.  His move to Charlton in July, on a two-year deal, with a club option of an extra 12 months, started with a bang.

Picture: Kyle Andrews

“When I first came in it was completely different to Cheltenham,” said May. “That’s no disrespect but I saw how the boys were on the training pitch. The boys at Charlton – especially the younger generation – move the ball really quickly and have quick feet.

“I had to adapt to it. I was miles off it. I had a look and realised the amount of chances we created, I was going to score goals.

“I was believing in myself – be in the middle of the goal and get the tap ins. I haven’t scored an absolute worldie this year. The last couple of seasons I have scored some great goals, but most of them here have been in the middle of the goal – they are the important ones.

“I don’t need to score worldies. I’m happy for them to come off my bum, back or wherever – as long as it says ‘May scores’ that is all that matters.”

May started his UEFA B coaching badge at the same time as Scott Fraser, Sam Walker and Mandela Egbo.

Nathan Jones is the third boss that May has played for in SE7 after the dismissal of Dean Holden and Michael Appleton.

“It’s football – up and down,” said May. “You see it at other teams – it’s a results game. You have to pick up results, unfortunately, to keep your job in this industry. It’s very brutal.

“I really want to become a manager but I think Charlton have changed my mind now! What I find crazy is that the 11 that are out there, they don’t get sacked – it is the manager who loses their job. We, as players, probably could’ve done a little bit more when the managers have lost their jobs.”

May’s coaching course shows he is thinking about life after he hangs up his boots.

Charlton Athletic v Cheltenham Town SkyBet League One, The Valley, 28 November 2023
Picture : Keith Gillard

The forward, who turns 31 in July,  also tests himself on the hit Football Manager simulation game.

“I play as Charlton sometimes but I usually start as low as I can and try to work up into the leagues,” said May. “It’s hard – I ain’t got a clue. I keep getting sacked. So I’ve got no chance in the real world.

“The older Alfie gets in the game I try and nick him, see if he can get me some goals – bring him in as a player-coach.

“When I retire I will go back working for my brother for a bit because I really enjoyed being a builder. I’m pretty sure he would take me back. I’ll come away from football, just to have that mental break – a little bit of chilled time. My other brothers are there as well, so it would be good to go back and have banter.

“I would start in non-league (as a boss). Hopefully I’ve got quite a good name in non-league – it’s where I came from. It would be nice to start there and work your way up. Listen, I’m not going to say I’m going to be the best manager – but I’ll give it a good go.”

One area May has not contributed quite so heavily is in terms of assists. He has three for the South Londoners.

“I don’t get many – I’m too greedy,” said May. “I try and shoot all the time.

“Even last year I only got three or four assists. The way I work it, trying to play off the back of centre-halves, I’m in on goal. I never run outside of the width of the goal – or very rarely.

“If a ball is getting put down the sides I want to be in on goal. I’m not good with my back towards the goal. I’m good at facing the goal – defenders don’t want to run facing their own goal.

“Even when we were playing a three up front, and I was wide, I’d try and drift into the 10 position to be in the width of the goal.”

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

May is on course to be the first Charlton player to finish a league top scorer since Andy Hunt, who finished with 24  in the 1999-2000 Division One season.


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