'I was told I had a Portsmouth contract at half-time of my debut' - The striker who blazed the trail for goal-scoring Blues triallists

It took 48 seconds into Ryan Bird’s debut to make a Pompey impact. By half-time he had been awarded a contract.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 4:55 am
Ryan Bird celebrates scoring against the Hawks on his Pompey debut in a pre-season game in July 2013. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Gassan Ahadme’s 26-minute hat-trick against the Hawks last month ultimately helped secure him a season-long loan from Norwich.

However, eight years earlier at Westleigh Park, a triallist from Evo-Stik League Southern side Burnham also stole the show.

Following a week’s trial, the 25-year-old Bird was presented with a run out for Guy Whittingham’s team in a pre-season friendly against the Hawks.

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During a 45-minute cameo, he stunned the crowd of 3,009 by bagging a two-goal haul, while the post denied him a hat-trick.

He told The News: ‘That first half against Havant got me a Pompey deal.

‘As we were coming off the pitch at the interval, Steve Allen came up to me and said “You’ve got a contract”.

Ryan Bird made 25 appearances for Pompey, scoring three times. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘We hadn’t even got to the dressing room, while obviously money and figures had yet to be discussed. But Steve said it would be sorted.

‘Those of us who started the first half were scheduled to come off at half-time, so that was it for me that day – 45 minutes, two goals and a contract!

‘Certainly I wasn’t expecting the timing. It was a week’s trial which included a game, I would have probably gone to Wycombe if Pompey weren’t interested.

‘My first goal came after 48 seconds, it was a bit of a flukey one, but it’s a goal isn’t it! Basically, I tackled someone and it went in.

Gassan Ahadme last month registered a 26-minute hat-trick for Pompey against the Hawks in a pre-season friendly. Picture: Paul Collins

‘The second was pretty flukey as well, but I did direct it.

‘Jed Wallace had a shot which was going wide, so I flicked it towards goal and it went in. It was an instinctive finish.

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‘It was a strange day, my mates were there as well, treating it as a day out and shouting at me on the sidelines.

‘While people were asking for my autograph. I had never been asked before, only by the bank when signing for a card!

‘I was actually going on holiday to Barcelona with my girlfriend the following day, so was a bit worried about heading off without a contract.

‘Thankfully I verbally agreed a contract before my holiday – then, when I returned, signed it.’

Within 10 weeks, the striker was back at Westleigh Park, this time representing Lee Bradbury’s side.

Following Pompey’s loan signing of a 21-year-old John Marquis from Millwall in September 2013, Bird was loaned to the Hawks.

Scheduled for an initial month, matters did not begin well, with the non-leaguers suffering a 5-0 defeat to Sutton United on his debut.

It represented the Hawks’ heaviest home loss for almost a decade.

Bird totalled just three appearances and 148 minutes during that one month loan.

He added: ‘I went on loan to Havant for a month, yet wasn’t allowed to play in the FA Cup as Pompey didn’t want me cup-tied.

‘I ended up playing three games in a month. There was no point in me going there.

‘It didn’t work out and I told Pompey that I didn’t want to stay for another month. There didn’t seem to be any point.

‘Then I came back and scored three goals in two games for Pompey!’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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