Sam Gisborne thankful for ‘real good grounding at  Portchester’ as he embarks on new academy role at AFC Bournemouth

Sam Gisborne might have just taken the next step on his career journey in football at Championship club AFC Bournemouth.

By Lewis Mason
Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 10:51 am
Sam Gisborne will never forget his football grounding at AFC Portchester
Sam Gisborne will never forget his football grounding at AFC Portchester

But he'll certainly never forget the grounding AFC Portchester provided him with before pushing on to make a living in the sport he loves.

Gisborne, 26, recently made the switch from academy operations manager at Cherries to the position of assistant manager of the Dorset club’s academy set up.

Working under long-standing academy manager Joe Roach, the former Cams Hill pupil oversees all aspects of the Cherries' youth set up from the under-9s through to the under-21 level.

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Sam Gisborne during his time at the AFC Portchester youth set-up

The responsibility of playing his part in ensuring youngsters have the best platform in order to make it in the pro game has long given Gisborne great satisfaction.

And he could never have envisaged anything other than enjoying a football career in some capacity right from when he started out at hometown club Portchester.

Gisborne's association with the club began by playing for Castle Royals, where he remained until under-18 level before heading to Bournemouth University to study for a sports management degree.

As well as featuring in the Portchester youth set up, he would also offer his services undertaking a variety of jobs around the club - and Gisborne believes it all helped shape him to get to where he is today.

He recalled: 'I did a bit of everything to be honest (at AFC Portchester). Whether it was building goals for their summer tournaments, collecting glasses for evening functions.

‘They’ve got some great people there - Paul Kelly (Portchester chairman), Steve Woods, who unfortunately passed away recently, he was a proper club legend. He got me involved and I remember doing a bit of DJing for a 50th birthday function just to help the club out.

‘It gave me a real good grounding. My dad was quite heavily involved, he used to help out fixing stuff, cutting grass or whatever.

‘It’s a real workmanlike environment and that sort of Wessex League, Southern League, those sort of leagues, they give people a really good grounding for what football is.

'The opportunity to really submerge yourself into a club like Portchester where you’ve got people down there, it might be Paul Kelly, one minute he’s changing a barrel full of beer.

‘You do all sorts of different jobs just to make sure the club runs well. Steve Woods used to do everything - it really did give a good grounding to eventually getting into football.'

It was after leaving home in Portchester and through his studies at Bournemouth University where Gisborne got his first break working with a professional club.

He spent time working as an intern at both AFC Bournemouth and Norwich before he took on the role of academy operations manager with the Canaries. He later took on the same position at Bournemouth in 2017.

And he remains thankful to his current employers and Norwich for the chances he's been afforded.

Gisborne said: ‘They’ve been great (Bournemouth), especially with giving me this role, how it happened was all very quick.

‘Joe Roach, especially, has given unbelievable support, effectively going from an intern, a work placement student, right the way through to assistant academy manager.

‘It’s been really nice. They’ve given me this opportunity so I’ll continue to work hard and see where it goes.'

Gisborne's full focus at present remains on making sure all is falling into place to ensure the Cherries' academy players are provided with the best surroundings to develop.

But he has not ruled out one day moving into working within a first team environment.

Gisborne said: 'I’ve only been in this role for a short period and I just want to put my all into it like I have other roles.

'I just want to continue to work with loads of different people, create great relationships and see what happens.

'I’m learning loads off Joe, I’m learning loads off our under-18s coach Alan (Connell) - I’m learning loads off all the different people.

‘I could go down the academy manager route or if I wanted to eventually work for a first team, whether it’s a club secretary or something like a CEO eventually - which might be a dream, but something like that.

‘Ultimately, I just want to progress as far as I can and be recognised as someone who will do a good job for whatever club I'm at.'

When work commitments allow, Gisborne regularly takes the chance to catch up with some familiar faces at Portchester.

The club is deep-rooted in his family with Sam's grandad, Jim, on the gate at the Crest Finance Stadium on match-days while his father, David, helped out at the club prior to moving to Norwich a few years ago.

Sam said: 'I still find myself having a beer down there when I’m not at work; whenever I get an opportunity I’ll go back to Portchester which is home.

‘I often find myself down there catching up with people - it’s all the same familiar faces.'