Ex-Baffins and Gosport goal ace Ryan Pennery on his mentally tough – and expensive – return from a serious injury 18 months ago
Ryan Pennery is determined to repay AFC Totton's show of faith in him by banging in the goals this season.
The former Moneyfields, Gosport Borough and Baffins Milton Rovers striker is still in the recovery process from a long injury lay-off, but that did not stop Stags boss Glenn Howes swooping for the front man.
Pennery has been sidelined for 16 months after injuring his left ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) and MCL (medial collateral ligament) while playing for Moneyfields in January 2020.
It's been a painful and expensive road to recovery for the 25-year-old, who paid £8,000 out of his own pocket to go private for his ACL op.
With the pandemic taking a grip just a matter of months after sustaining the injury, Pennery had seen four scheduled operations put off.
Now, finally, things are looking up for him after signing for the Southern Premier League Division 1 South Stags.
Pennery, who underwent his ACL op in March, is now back running and training on an exercise bike, with a playing return pencilled in for either September or October.
And he cannot wait to start paying Howes back for the trust shown in him.
Pennery said: 'I’ve struggled massively mentally because I’ve played football all my life but had nothing else.
‘It was my life and it’s the fact you can’t even do any sport, you can’t play golf, you can’t do anything.
‘I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy (the injury), it’s only really now where I’ve been doing the exercises, I’ve started to feel a lot better.
‘I was used to being up and around, it was horrible, to see everyone else and my mates playing - even if it was going to Goals or over the park and playing.
‘I’ve funded everything myself; obviously now I’ve gone to Totton they’re helping me out with the physio side of things.
‘To be fair, they’ve (Totton) put faith in me - a lot of clubs were in for me still because I’ll get fit eventually, but Totton were the first club who put a lot of effort in, they really took interest.
‘They made me feel like I was a fit player, really, with my deal and that.
‘I was surprised really as I’ve been out for so long.
‘Don’t get me wrong, every season I had three or four clubs coming in for me because if you score goals at that level you do - there aren’t many goalscorers about.
‘I was surprised to have a couple (of clubs) come in, but they (Totton) really showed the interest.
‘The infrastructure over there is brilliant, the pitch is brilliant, they’ve got a link with Southampton. It’s honestly a carpet (the pitch), I can’t wait to get back there playing.'
Pennery has made his name firing in the goals for clubs in and around the Portsmouth area.
He first came to prominence on a senior level after netting 48 times in 46 matches to help Louis Bell's Baffins Milton Rovers side to Wessex League Division 1 promotion in 2016/17.
Pennery also finished top scorer for Gosport with 24 goals in the 2018/19 Southern League Premier South campaign.
But the Milton-based striker admitted his Pompey supporting friends have given him some stick for joining a club from the other side of the M27.
Yet his focus remains on getting the goals to fire AFC Totton back into step 4 football - their previous three-season stay there ended in 2013/14.
Pennery said: 'To be honest, Howesy is over the moon as well, I scored 24 goals in the league above in the Southern Prem.
‘If he can get me back to full fitness, with the side they’ve got over there I should be able to get a few goals and we’re looking to get promoted.
‘They’ve signed three players from Weymouth who were in the National League last year - they’re having a real go this year, it’s a good club to be at.
‘I’ve got a bit of stick from all my mates because it’s in Southampton and all my mates are Pompey fans!'