Ex-Portsmouth Championship starlet makes surprise return to football with AFC Portchester

Former Pompey player Ashley Harris has made a shock return to football – with AFC Portchester.

By Neil Allen
Monday, 20th September 2021, 11:36 am
Goalscorers Izale McLeod and Ashley Harris celebrate during Pompey's 3-0 victory at Crawley in September 2012. Picture: Allan Hutchings
Goalscorers Izale McLeod and Ashley Harris celebrate during Pompey's 3-0 victory at Crawley in September 2012. Picture: Allan Hutchings

The attacker was once regarded as a top Blues prospect after rising through the Academy ranks.

Michael Appleton granted an 18-year-old Harris his debut in March 2012 in a Championship encounter with Birmingham.

The ex-Purbrook Park School pupil went on to amass 35 outings, with all three of his goals arriving in the 2012-13 League One season.

However, his career with the Blues would stall, culminating in his Fratton Park release in the summer of 2014.

Harris would later join Gosport, Horndean and Moneyfields, yet two serious knee injuries significantly hampered his progress.

Now, following a sizeable time away from playing, the 27-year-old has re-emerged at Portchester, reuniting him with Dave Carter, his former boss at Horndean and Moneyfields.

Harris was named on the bench for Saturday’s Wessex League Premier Division clash with AFC Stoneham.

He was introduced in the 66th minute in the 1-1 draw, with Kieran Robert’s 14th goal of the campaign earning Portchester a point.

Harris was among a talented crop of Pompey youngsters which graduated into the first-team following the Premier League years.

Contemporaries include Adam Webster, Jed Wallace, Dan Butler, Ryan Williams, Sam Magri and Bradley Tarbuck.

Along with Magri, he was an unused substitute in the April 2012 encounter at Southampton, when David Norris so dramatically secured a 2-2 draw.

He was later among nine teenagers named in the starting line-up for the opening match of the 2012-13 campaign.

Financially-stricken Pompey had to turn to the kids for the League Cup trip to Plymouth, resulting in a 3-0 defeat.

That would prove to be his breakthrough season, also netting in the final fixture at Shrewsbury as the Blues suffered relegation from League One.

However, Harris fell out of favour the following campaign and was sent on loan spells at the Hawks, Chelmsford City and the Rocks.

His only Pompey outing that year – and his last in the shirt – was off the bench in a 2-1 defeat at Southend on New Year’s Day 2014.

Now Portchester have secured the attacking midfielder in the hope of tapping into his undoubted talents.

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