WHO Poll
Q: 2021/22 What competition should we prioritise this season?
a. The league is our bread & butter, so this year let's have a club sandwich
27%
  
b. We're owed an FA Cup after Gerrard nicked our last one in 06, our name's on it in 22
10%
  
c. A bye to the League Cup 3rd round gives us a good start, let's make it count
6%
  
d. The Europa is our best ticket to the Champions League, this is the one
36%
  
e. What's wrong with you, let's do the lot, has the quadruple ever been done
21%
  



Irish Hammer 12:52 Thu Sep 16
Article on another young lad in the Academy
Have a good day all.


West Ham’s future stars: Harrison Ashby – ‘Wow, he’s fearless!’

The day itself was 12 years ago but it is one that Barry Ashby will never forget. It was half-term and he had arrived early to pick up his six-year-old son Harrison from soccer school. It was just a regular day but as he walked over towards the under-6s, he immediately felt a sense of panic when Harrison was not with his age group.

“It started at 10am and finished around half three,” says Ashby, the former Watford, Brentford and Gillingham defender. “One day I got there a bit early and I went over to the age group he was in and I thought, ‘Hang on a minute, where’s Harrison? He’s not here.’

“I was looking around and then I asked the coach, ‘Where’s Harrison? He’s not in his age group.’ The coach went, ‘Oh, he’s too good for that lot. We’ve had to put him in with the older age group’.”

Ashby laughs about it now as he casts his mind back to that day when, finally, he found him playing for the under-10s. He now realised that there was a distinct possibility that he could follow in his footsteps.

“Although I was his dad, I knew he had a bit about him but we would just be messing about in the garden,” says Ashby. “It’s only when someone else mentioned that Harrison was good when I thought, ‘OK, maybe he is a bit better than the norm.’

“He loved playing football from a really young age. We had a barbecue and we had some friends over. We were in the garden and my mate was playing football with Harrison and he tackled him. My mate said, ‘Wow, he’s fearless!’ Then when Harrison was six, he really wanted to go to that soccer school for half-term.

“After spending a week training with the older boys, they had a presentation and Harrison won an award. His mum ended up crying. The coaches were surprised with how well he had done and she was so happy for him. I’m quite sensitive to things but there was no way I was going to cry!”

Ashby is a name that would not have been familiar to West Ham fans last season, but the promising right-back has impressed manager David Moyes with his performances for the under-23s. The 18-year-old made his first-team debut when he came off the bench in the 3-0 Carabao Cup win over Charlton Athletic. Ashby was then named in the starting eleven against Hull City in the same competition when Josh Cullen and Issa Diop were withdrawn from the squad after testing positive for coronavirus.

Ashby West Ham
Ashby made his debut against Charlton in the Carabao Cup (Photo: Rob Newell – CameraSport via Getty Images)
Ashby went off after 69 minutes against Hull following a nasty-looking clash with Brandon Fleming but he suffered no lasting effects and has since been present for the fourth-round game against Everton and has played for the under-23s. His performance and that of fellow academy player Aji Alese against Hull was described by Alan Irvine as “absolutely brilliant”.

The youngster signed his professional contract in the summer and he would later describe his debut as being “the best night of my life by far”. Having joined the club at the age of nine, it is a dream the youngster had always been working towards and the Ashby household were immensely proud.

“I was buzzing for him because he’s worked his socks off,” says Ashby senior. “I’m a big believer in if you work hard you deserve what you get. It was nice for Harrison to come on and be involved. That’s when you think to yourself that sitting in traffic and all those long journeys were worth it in the end. We watched the game in our dining room on the laptop, with a cup of coffee and a cake!

“I remember days when me and Harrison would be in the car and stuck in traffic for two hours trying to get to Chadwell. Then he would train for two hours and on the way home he would be eating his dinner in the car. We’ve missed family events, birthdays and sometimes my family wouldn’t understand. They would say, ‘We have a party on a Saturday night’ and we would say, ‘Well Harrison is playing Arsenal Sunday morning’. And they would say, ‘Well he can still come.’ But the thing is we couldn’t be getting home at two in the morning when he has to be up at seven. So it can be tough on the family at times but we’re all very proud of him.”

Although Ashby is excited to see what the future has in store for his son, he is not putting any pressure on him to become the next big thing. Having been a professional footballer himself he played with lots of up-and-coming talents who had either failed to fulfil their potential or who later became disheartened with a career in the sport.

While Ashby talks about the setbacks his son has endured he mentions the passing of Jeremy Wisten and how it can be tough for young players to deal with rejection, the pressures of making it and everything else that comes with being a young footballer.

“It’s heartbreaking when you hear that the young lad Jeremy took his own life,” he says. “More needs to be done for these lads. For a lot of them, it’s their dream. Most people just see all the glory and the good parts, but between the ages of 12-16 Harrison had loads of ups and downs. It was to the extent where we started thinking about life outside of football.

“They’re young lads and people just think it’s an easy ride. I remember playing alongside Rod Thomas who was the best thing since sliced bread. He was an unbelievable player but he would perhaps agree he didn’t reach the heights he thought he would’ve done. Football is a tough industry. It’s fantastic if it all goes well but it’s not often that happens. So you have to be really careful with the praise you give your child as a parent.”

When Ashby made his debut for the first-team, Declan Rice congratulated him. Similar to the England international, Ashby was previously on the books at Chelsea and persevered when things did not work out for him at the club.

“At the time all the London clubs wanted Harrison to come and train but I wasn’t keen on doing that,” says Ashby senior. “He was still a kid and I wanted him to try other sports and not put all his attention on football. Then West Ham showed interest after he played a game against them. Around the time he was on the books at Chelsea and it just wasn’t working out for him there.

“We had a few other options, but West Ham felt like the best fit. We signed a six-week trial form that you normally have to do. Harrison played a game and after the coaches were like, ‘Listen, we don’t need to do six weeks. We want to sign him now’.

“He started off as a midfielder and he’s played everywhere for West Ham! The only position he hasn’t played for West Ham is a goalkeeper. Then he went to right wing for a while, played at left-back, he played as a centre-half for the under-16s and under-18s but he’s always liked the right-back position.”

Ashby has represented Scotland at under-16, under-19 and under-21 level, qualifying thanks to his grandfather on his mother’s side being Scottish. With a fellow Scotsman in Moyes at the helm, Ashby senior is happy that players in the academy have been given a chance.

“David has been really good with giving the young players opportunities,” he says. “He mentioned that he wants to use the academy and Harrison has enjoyed training with the first team. He trained with the first team at the end of last season so it helped him settle. All the staff and players have made him feel really welcome and that makes me really proud as a parent.”

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

bill green 4:55 Thu Sep 16
Re: Article on another young lad in the Academy
madeeasy 1:52 Thu Sep 16

madeeasy 1:52 Thu Sep 16
Re: Article on another young lad in the Academy
Nice article.

I would love for us to be able to bring through more youngsters.





Copyright 2006 WHO.NET | Powered by: