EXCLUSIVE: Hitchin player who trolled Premier League star over death of stillborn child reveals his aunt suffered two miscarriages and says Arsenal's performance drove him to abuse Harry Arter
PUBLISHED: 16:55 04 January 2017 | UPDATED: 16:55 04 January 2017
The non-League footballer from Stevenage who used Twitter to mock the death of a Premier League footballer's baby has spoken exclusively to the Comet - revealing his own auntie suffered two miscarriages and says Arsenal's performance prompted him to send 'idiotic' tweets.
Alfie Barker – who went to The Barclay School – mocked AFC Bournemouth player Harry Arter over his stillborn daughter after Arsenal came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with the Cherries last night.
Barker – who had his player registration terminated with immediate effect this lunchtime by parent club Hitchin Town while on loan at Codicote FC – tweeted Arter twice, first saying: “At least you didn’t lose your kid.”
The 18-year-old then added: “Big hype just for a disappointment like the nine months leading up to your child’s birth.”
After his comments were widely criticised, Barker deleted the tweets and apologised this morning.
However, the Comet tracked down the youngster – who has lived with ADHD and a mild form of autism since being diagnosed at Pinehill Hospital in Hitchin five years ago and is on medication called Concerta XL to combat the symptoms.
He said: “I am just so sorry about what I have done.
“I’m not a horrible person. My aunt Stacey Hunt has actually had two miscarriages in the last five years, and I am distraught about upsetting her as well as my family – and of course Harry Arter and his family.
“I was watching Arsenal at home last night and I was hyper. At 3-0 down they weren’t playing well and I was annoyed.
“I’d had a couple of beers and was frustrated at the way the team was playing and I just lashed out. I have no idea why I focused on Harry Arter and his family and I am so, so sorry for what I have done.
“It was a moment of madness.
“I have no social skills. I have no filter between my mouth and my brain. I work every day and I have spent the whole day trying to understand why I did what I did.
“I would like to meet Harry Arter face to face to apologise for my inexplicable actions. I cannot justify in any way, shape or form what I did but I would like to say sorry. I would like to write a letter to Harry saying sorry too. I feel like the worst person in the world today.
“It’s the worst thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it is so out of character. I honestly don’t know why I did it.”
Barker could still face action from the FA, who are investigating – with an FA spokesman saying they will be seeking the individual’s observations in relation to his social media posts. He will have seven days, starting tomorrow, to respond.
Barker, who is a carpenter, added that he was happy to undertake any form of sanction football’s governing body may impose, including social media training or educating young footballers not to make the same mistake he did.
“My brain was muddled and I deeply regret my actions,” he said.
“I am happy to commit to any social media educational or awareness schemes the FA have, as well as speaking with youngsters about the dangers of social media.
“I don’t want to be known as the player who trolled Harry Arter. I am devastated that I have made my family ashamed of me and I take full responsibility.
“I also completely understand why Hitchin Town took the action they did and I completely agree they did the right thing.
“I knew I had done something really wrong when I looked at my phone this morning. I will not be using social media again.”
Alfie’s father Danny Barker added: “I’ve given him the tongue-lashing of his life. I can’t believe he’s been so stupid.
“It’s completely out of character. He’s a good lad really, he just didn’t think about what he was doing.
“He’s got the greatest of respect for Harry Arter and all professional footballers and didn’t mean a word of what he wrote – we apologise unreservedly for any distress Alfie has caused Harry Arter and his family.
“We also hope a moment of madness hasn’t cost Alfie his future in football as he’s a good kid who made a terrible error.
“He had a couple of beers watching the game last night and has just lashed out without engaging his brain. Football is his life, he’s had a ball in his cot from before he can walk and it’s all he knows. I can’t believe he’s been so stupid.
“He’s scored 30 goals this season yet he’s gone from hero to zero in the space of two idiotic tweets – but he’s not an Adam Johnson and I just hope Harry Arter accepts our genuine and heartfelt apologies and we can move on.”
A spokesman for Hitchin Town said: “The club adopts a responsible approach to social media and would expect any player connected to Hitchin Town to do likewise. In the light of the player’s irresponsible and anti-social behaviour, we are terminating Alfie Barker’s registration and relationship with the club with immediate effect.
“Hitchin Town, as a community club with established links with various segments of the public, has been a long-time user of social media channels and expects all club stakeholders to use them appropriately.”
AFC Bournemouth and Harry Arter declined to comment.