Gareth Evans: From The Dressing Room
Heading is a huge part of football and always will be.
So, it was interesting to read a couple of weeks ago about the damage continuous heading of a football can have on the human brain.
The validity of the claim is debatable but researchers have supposedly found over time it can bring about memory loss.
But I don’t think young Conor Chaplin will forget last week’s header against Cambridge in a hurry!
What a thing of beauty it was.
A precision pass from Christian Burgess split the towering Cambridge centre-halves and found a leaping Chaplin who expertly converted the chance and ultimately won us the three points.
It is nothing less than what we have come to expect from the little man – ever since scoring his first Fratton Park goal against Derby County last season.
To say he was raw and unproven when I first came to the club would be a fair assessment of the cheeky chap.
But his appetite for the game and his desire to improve and progress has meant he has come on leaps and bounds. And his goalscoring feats so far this season are proof his attributes are now coming to fruition.
His hold-up play has improved, his strength is improving all the time and he absolutely has what it takes to go far in the game.
I don’t want to build him up too much but it is refreshing to have a dedicated, motivated and talented young footballer around the place.
I have come across so many arrogant young lads in my time who are more bothered about what trainers they’ve got on than who they’re playing at the weekend.
And it’s those lads who tend to fall by the wayside and fall out of the game at an early age. One of these players Conor is not, so I am certain the Fratton faithful were delighted to hear of the news he has recently signed a new contract.
It is essential this football club gets itself back to the heady heights of the Championship and beyond and it is moves like this that are only going to realise that ambition sooner.
I must say since I came to Pompey I have been extremely impressed with the production line the club has made for itself.
I can confidently say we have the best set of young professionals I have worked with in my career.
The young lads coming through are the foundation of success for a club like Pompey.
They can take the club forward in terms of helping the first team directly with their performances, or they can move on to pastures new and make the club a healthy transfer fee in the process.
Let’s hope the latter isn’t the case with young Chaplin.
I need him around so I can steal his shower gel every day!