Ryan Williams: So great to be back home with Portsmouth - and Gunwharf

He departed as a boy and returned as a family man.

Sunday, 30th June 2019, 8:00 pm
Updated Monday, 1st July 2019, 11:34 am

Now Ryan Williams is relishing getting reacquainted with familiar surroundings as he settles back into the club which launched his career.

It was seven-and-a-half years ago when Fulham plucked a 18-year-old winger from Fratton Park on the January 2012 transfer deadline day.

Pompey were fighting a HMRC winding-up petition and weeks away from entering administration following owner Vladimir Antonov’s arrest.

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Ryan Williams poses with a Pompey shirt after becoming a first-year scholar in July 2010. Picture: Robin Jones

It prompted highly-regarded Academy product Williams, with six substitute appearances for the first-team, to be sold for an undisclosed fee.

That ended a two-year south-coast spell for the Australian, who now finds himself back with the Blues.

He said: ‘All those years ago I got a call from my agent, who said Fulham were interested, so I went up there but didn’t think the deal was going to go through.

‘From what I have since found out, the chief executive (David Lampitt) was apparently out for a curry so it was taking a while to get done.

Pompey Academy's July 2010 intake. Back; Matt Gledhill, Sam Magri, Elliot Wheeler, Patrick Antelmi, Alex Grant, Ryan Williams. Front; Dan Butler, Andy Higgins, Ashley Harris, George Colson, James Jennings, Jordan Fitzharris, Chinedu Vine. Picture: Robin Jones

'He had to race back to the office, sign the documents and get them off. They went through two minutes before deadline!

‘I was very young at the time, they had earlier offered me a new contract, which I was advised not to sign.

‘To be fair, I came back last week and nothing has changed around the place, still some familiar faces, which was nice to see, and everyone welcoming.

‘I lived in digs in Copnor Road, exactly opposite the training ground, so it brought back so many memories.

Ryan Williams has returned to Fratton Park - the club he left in January 2012. Picture: Colin Farmery

‘I lived there with Alex Grant and Andy Higgins, lads also from Australia, and we spent most of our time down in Gunwharf!’

Williams’ July 2010 Pompey Academy intake also included Sam Magri, Ashley Harris and Dan Butler.

And they would train in Eastleigh, rather than in the city.

He added: ‘The current training ground used to be called Goals, while the front grass which is now the club’s pitches used to be somewhere for everybody to have a kickabout.

‘The Wellington Sports Ground had some nice pitches, but this is much better.

‘You can mingle with some of the fans that come past, Portsmouth is all about the community.’