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Burton Albion: Agony to ecstasy for Ben Fox as super-fan becomes super-sub.

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: July 28, 2014

By David Broome

  • THIS IS A LOW . . . Burton-born Brewers scholar Ben Fox watches on despondently as Burton Albion lose in the League Two play-off final at Wembley

  • HIGHS . . . Ben Fox (left, centre) signs his pre-scholarhsip agreement with Burton Albion, flanked by club legend Aaron Webster and chairman Ben Robinson, before appearing as a substitute in the KC Trophy win over Mickleover Sports (right, second left)

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LIKE many Burton Albion fans, Ben Fox was despondent two months ago.

Sat among the massed Brewers support at Wembley, the teenager watched as his club's and his town's dreams crashed to the floor in the League Two play-off final.

Fast forward to the present though, and the 16-year-old Branston midfielder could not be happier.

Having been with the blossoming Albion academy since it opened, he is currently playing for the Under-18s, and last Tuesday he made his first-team debut in the 2-0 friendly win at Hednesford Town, before appearing again at Mickleover Sports 24 hours later.

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Fox, the only Burton-born member of the current scholars and academy graduates, said: "It was unbelievable to make my debut.

"And quite surreal as well, as it's been a dream of mine since I was young to become a professional footballer."

The former Rykneld Primary School and John Taylor High School pupil did not look out of place among Albion's more senior players at Keys Park, and almost scored with his first touch, looping a shot from distance just over the bar.

Manager Gary Rowett was certainly impressed with what he saw.

"He looked very good when he came on," said the Brewers chief.

"Whits (academy boss Mike Whitlow) has spoken quite a lot about him and you can see he's got good physique for a young player and he's comfortable on the ball.

"What was really pleasing for me was that sometimes he actually played forward and over the top.

"Occasionally with the younger players you've got to stop them playing those little three and four yard passes all the time and actually try to exploit the space and hurt people with their passing."

Fox grew up in Branston and joined the academy from Burton Colts.

He has been involved with the Under-18 team since he was 15 and signed a pre-scholarship agreement at the end of his Under-15 season.

Asked if he has been inspired by the likes of Matty Palmer, Marcus Harness and Liam Slade progressing through the youth ranks to appear in the first team, Fox said: "Yes, of course.

"I've played with them over the past couple of years in the youth team and the fact that they have become members of the first-team squad is an inspiration to everyone at the academy.

"This year, I hope to continue to progress my game, keep learning and most importantly, keep working hard!"

And as an Albion fan, Fox is hopeful he does not have to experience May's disappointment again.

"It was great to see Burton at Wembley, but obviously I was disappointed as a fan not to see them win," he said.

"But overall it was a great achievement, and hopefully this year we can go one better."

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