Pompey’s bouncers positioned themselves on every doorway to ensure Jamal Lowe was back in the Football League to stay.
In their absence, the winger is continuing to flourish at Fratton Park – and he’s hoping to pass on the imparted wisdom to assist others.
As I have learnt, it can go instantly and you are in a rat race in non-league trying to crawl your way back inJamal Lowe
It was in January 2016 when Lowe arrived from Hampton & Richmond for a second shot at league football.
When previously with Barnet, he made eight League Two appearances before slipping into non-league, initially with the Bees themselves.
Paul Cook offered him a comeback, with Lowe entering a dressing room policed by the likes of Michael Doyle, Gary Roberts and Noel Hunt.
And he believes the elder statesmen’s early influence was crucial to his career.
Lowe said: ‘You must try to work as hard as you can and not think you have cracked it as soon as you have signed a deal or got around the first-team.
‘As I have learnt, it can go instantly and you are in a rat race in non-league trying to crawl your way back in.
‘If a certain player has an arm around your shoulder it can help you massively.
‘If you don’t have that then you are left to your own devices and other young players around you can give bad advice to put you in the wrong place.
‘It’s vitally important to help some of the young boys and ensure they stay on track.
‘Michael Doyle constantly kept you on your toes.
‘Even little things like in the gym. If you’d finished with a certain bar or weight but hadn’t put it back into the place it’s meant to be, he was sharp on it.
‘He would shout! If he saw you try to leave and do something else, leaving what you were doing behind, you would hear from him.
‘After all, there are no cleaners in the gym, you have to put it away yourself.
‘He was good to have around because you knew you had to be on your toes, you had to be at your best – and that is something I am trying to carry through.
‘How scary was he? On a scale of 1-10, I would put him 8.5 on a bad day.
‘I never really saw him lose his temper that much. I’ve heard the stories, but never saw him kick off that much!’
Lowe has scored eight goals in 39 outings for Pompey, establishing himself as a regular under Kenny Jackett.
And a year on from his arrival, he recalls those early days.
He added: ‘Gary Roberts always worked hard, you would see him in the gym, the same with Noel Hunt.
‘Hunty put his arm around me when I first came, spoke to me a bit and gave me some good advice. Those type of players are what you need.
‘Towards the end of the season, he took a few coaching sessions, which was good because there were a big group of players not in the starting XI who needed to do a couple of extra bits.
‘He had all of his badges, so why not?
‘That was a big part of it mentally, making sure you were in the right frame of mind to work hard.
‘At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t really in the team. A lot of people could have thought “I’m not playing so I’m just going to sack it off”. I definitely didn’t.’