BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Harry Ransom’s move to Millwall has already had an effect on his football – he’s had to give up his season ticket at Brighton.
The Lions announced a deal for the 19-year-old central defender in March.
Ransom trained with the Championship side but still played matches for National League South side Eastbourne Borough, who he had captained.
The plan is him to go into Kevin Nugent’s U23 squad.
Ransom has been part of a professional club’s set-up before, just not at senior level.
He spent six years with the Seagulls but was released at the age of 14.
“I think there were a few reasons they let me go,” said Ransom. “I probably wasn’t that confident. I wasn’t the type who would get on the ball a lot because I was small.
“Looking back, I thought it was fair enough [Brighton’s decision].
“But about a year after I had been released I had grown about a foot and become a more dominating presence.”
Ransom played for Uckfield Grasshoppers until he was picked up by Eastbourne.
“At Uckfiedl we won the county cup two years running and the knockout cup,” he said. “We were one of the best in Sussex for Sunday league football – that was U15s and U16s. Then I went for a year into the U18s at Eastbourne before breaking into the first team.
“Some of my team-mates from Uckfield were going to Eastbourne. They knew about me and mentioned to the manager that I would be worth a look. It all worked out – staying with my mates.
“I had a trial with Charlton before I was at Eastbourne but it was only a three-week one. There have been little sniffs but Millwall were the one who wanted me straight away. It was kind of a no-brainer.”
You often find that players who come from non-league have that extra desire to succeed.
The Lions have had notable successes. Lee Gregory was an electrician before he became full-time while Steve Morison worked for a paper-shredding company.
“I was doing a bit of work with my dad because it was only Tuesday and Thursday night training,” said Ransom. “He makes reversing cameras for lorries – I’d do the packing and stocking up. Just basic stuff.
“I’d also train on my own. I’ve always been very sporty, I studied sports science at college. It would have been down that route – a physio or anything like that – if I hadn’t got a move.
“The benefit of starting in non-league is playing men’s football. By the time I’d left I’d played almost 100 games in it, which is very, very good. You’ve got to cope physically with playing against men and be smarter – because they know all the tricks of the trade.
“Everyone says it, but they are playing for their mortgages. It’s not like a Premier League team. It’s very different.”
So did seasoned strikers attempt to rough him up?
“Probably – I’m sure they used it as a tactic, but I didn’t really mind. If you win the first header they think he’s not just a young centre-back. And because I’m tall they don’t think I’m going to be weak and they can do what they want to me.”
Ransom worked under a former Lions boss for the final months of last season. Mark McGhee took the job on an interim basis in February before being replaced this summer by Lee Bradbury.
The positive publicity that the youngster got made him believe he could get a shot in the Football League.
“It was good [working with McGhee],” he said. “He had a different style. We defensively became a lot more secure, which looks better for me! He gave me a lot of advice.
“In the last year or so I was playing well with Eastbourne and there were lots of people praising me and thinking I’d go on and get a pro deal somewhere.
“Before I was playing and just really enjoying it, so I didn’t really mind.”
Ransom had a settling in period with the Lions as he trained and played in U23 matches before the summer break.
“That was a perfect way to do it,” he said. “I was still getting games at Eastbourne but also getting introduced to the way of life as a professional here. I got to know my team-mates.
“it made it a lot easier here for pre-season, as everyone knew who I was.”
“My long-term goal is to get in the first team but there are three centre-halves, and Murray Wallace can play there as well. I know there is a lot of competition.
“They’ve all be great and giving advice – all the centre-halves. Pearcey [Alex Pearce} and Hutch [Shaun Hutchinson] are always telling me little things I can improve on.
“Everyone has welcomed me and been really supportive.”
“It might be that I go out on loan this year and get another 25 games under my belt and then see.
“I’m quite open to going out and playing men’s football again. I’d be foolish just to sit here all season and think my opportunity will come. If I can go out then I hopefully come back a better player.”
Ransom could be seen back at Eastbourne’s Priory Lane home.
“Of course, if I’ve got the available time,” he said. “They’ve been brilliant to me and are a great club. I’d definitely go back.
“It was a big step to put me in the team at 17 or 18 in central midfield and centre-half. I’m very grateful, because not many clubs will give you that opportunity.”