Gosport's Harvey Rew: I'm a Portsmouth fan, but it's still raw. I just don’t want to be around the club I support at the moment
The rejection is still achingly raw, the mourning period not yet over, despite dragging himself back to his feet with admirable resilience.
After all, Pompey is Harvey Rew’s club.
The former Brune Park Community School pupil was a Fratton Park attendee when the 6-1 thumping of Cheltenham secured the League Two title amid emotional scenes.
The following day, he joined the Blues faithful on a packed Southsea Common, toasting Paul Cook’s triumphant squad and accompanying silverware.
The highly-promising Rew would go on to claim the curious distinction of making his first-team debut while a Fratton End season-ticket holder.
Then, in April, a bombshell blew apart Rew’s Pompey dreams. He was surplus to requirements after three outings.
Now aged 19, the left-back is in the process of rebuilding his career at Gosport, establishing himself as an impressive regular with Shaun Gale’s side.
Yet the pain stubbornly lingers.
‘I’m a Pompey fan. The first year I had a season ticket we won the League Two title,’ Rew told The News.
‘Watching players like Gary Roberts, Gareth Evans and Kyle Bennett, and being able to see us win the title was major. It was a joy.
‘I used to go to the games, but, since getting released, you don’t really want to be in and around Pompey at times.
‘It’s raw, it has only been a few months. I went to the Plymouth match this season, but you look at it and think “I don’t want to be around the club at the moment”.
‘Me leaving Pompey has literally just happened, it hit me hard. I’m now getting back to liking the game again.
‘We’ll have to see in the future if I want to watch them again.’
The Rew family name is royalty in Gosport parts.
Dad Ian was a long-serving Borough player, a rock-sold centre-half who skippered the side before eventually retiring at Privett Park.
Harvey’s footballing pathway began at the now defunct youth side Gosport FC, before spotted by Pompey youth coach Shaun North.
His introduction into the Blues’ Academy was relatively late compared to others, arriving at under-12 level. Nonetheless, the defender’s progress was rapid.
By October 2019, while a first-year scholar, Pompey secured him on professional terms to fend off growing interest from rivals, penning a two-year deal with club option.
It was an eye-catching show of faith and, just six days later, he was handed a first-team debut in a Leasing.com Trophy fixture at Oxford United,
At the time, he was aged 17 years and 14 days – the 10th youngest debut in Pompey post-war history.
But, after two further first-team appearances, he was released last summer along with Charlie Bell, Taylor Seymour, Harry Kavanagh, Eoin Teggart and Gerard Storey.
Rew added: ‘At first, I was surprised to leave Pompey, but then I look back and think about everything that was happening throughout the club.
‘There was a new manager, a new Academy manager, perhaps there could have been signs beforehand, I don’t know.
‘I had been there for seven years and then, obviously, they got rid of me and a few of my team-mates as well.
‘Last season, everyone from the Academy were playing in (EFL Trophy) matches, it was very positive. Then came the negative, with nearly all of us subsequently released.
‘Regardless, I believe we can hold our heads up. You can say you gave it your all, nobody can say anyone at that point wasn’t trying, we really were trying our hardest.
‘Unfortunately, we weren’t someone’s cup of tea, that’s how life goes. It’s really tough to take at the time, but you just have to use it as fuel to get back into the game.
‘I ended up having a few trials, but that’s more difficult than perhaps people may realise.
‘At the end of last season I went to West Ham under-23s, Southampton and Sheffield United. Then, when this season started, I had stints at Brighton and Millwall.
‘I was doing well at the time, but obviously they didn’t fancy me. It’s tough, with each trial, your confidence drops. You move to the next one and your belief has already been knocked.
‘Still, each time you walk in the door and get that buzz again, you like it, it’s great. Then, at the end of the week, they tell you it’s a “No”. You start all over again.
‘Normally trials last Monday to Saturday, including a game. Then, at some point in the next week, you find out their decision.
‘So it’s a case of trying to get your confidence back up, ready to start again at another club. Then that verdict comes and you are back to square one.
‘Clubs do give you feedback, they explain their thinking, that I wasn’t this, wasn’t that, which is helpful, you can use that.
‘I’d also played against a few non-league teams on my trials, which was good coming into Gosport, so at least I am grateful for that.’
Rew, who totalled nine caps at Wales under-16 and under-17 levels, made two Pompey first-team appearances last season, both in the Papa John’s Trophy.
Jackett named him in his side against West Ham under-21s in November 2020, then the left-back started the 5-1 loss at Peterborough which signalled elimination from the competition.
Following his Fratton Park release, Rew trained with Gosport from July to maintain his fitness, an affiliation which became permanent the following month.
He said: ‘During pre-season there were times when there was nothing on for me.
‘Negativity creeps in, you’re sitting waiting for a trial, waiting to be able to train on a Monday. Then, when you do go to trials, they’re not working out and you think “Where am I going to be able to play?”.
‘Once the time came, I made up my mind to join Gosport, otherwise I wouldn't be playing at all. I am so grateful to them for giving me that chance.
‘I’m a Gosport lad, my dad played a lot of games for the club, so that link is already there. I trained with them in pre-season to keep me fit for trials, Shaun (Gale) was very happy with the arrangement.
‘Then, after a few weeks, I had a chat with him and he said “Well, you know the team. Do you want to come and play for us?”. That’s exactly what I did.
‘Shaun and Graham (Rix) have been big factors, while Gosport have a lot of my former Pompey team-mates, such as Harry Kavanagh, Matt Casey and Bradley Lethbridge. It felt natural to join.
‘It didn’t bother me coming into non-league, I don’t care where I play. If I was still at Pompey, who’s to say I wouldn’t be loaned out to a non-league team anyway? Perhaps Gosport?
‘It might not have been an ideal way to come into this level, but I could have arrived at Privett Park on a loan deal anyhow.
‘I think I’ve had a good start here, I’ve been playing regularly so it has given me the football I desperately needed.
‘Initially I didn’t start in the team, which was a bit of a rough one, so when I eventually got in I had to make sure I kept my place – and it’s working out really well.
‘I have Rory Williams playing in front of me, it’s that age thing, I can be his legs! We are both left footed, working up and down the flank together, he drops in for me, I drop in for him.
‘It’s such a good club, they’re a great bunch of lads, the spirit’s really high, we’re flying in the league. Long may that continue.’
Gosport are presently third in Southern League Premier South, although have now suffered defeat in successive fixtures.
Nonetheless, Rew has been an impressive constant, making 12 appearances and comfortably adjusting to the physicality and rigours demanded at non-league level.
Having signed a 12-month deal, it’s a partnership which can enable both parties to flourish.
He said: ‘I’ve had a good start so far and want to continue that. Let’s get promoted and see how it pans out after then.
‘Hopefully I can find myself back into the Football League and, if not, work hard and get as high as I can in my career.
‘Gosport have been good to me and I wouldn’t be as disrespectful to say I don’t want to be here beyond this season. I’m enjoying it, I’m in no hurry.
‘But, as the years go on, hopefully releasing me will come back to bite Pompey.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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