Jed Wallace would make 121 games and score 30 times for Pompey after being picked from non-league Lewes.  Image: Joe PeplerJed Wallace would make 121 games and score 30 times for Pompey after being picked from non-league Lewes. Image: Joe Pepler

Inevitably, there are more failures than hits when relying on talent from the non-league game, especially for Pompey.

Jamal Lowe is an obvious exception and needs little introduction after arriving from Hampton & Richmond in January 2017.

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However, over the years there have been other successes, Pompey cast members who have adapted excellently.

Take, for example, Chris Burns, who joined a Pompey trial from Cheltenham in March 1991.

By the end of the week he was a blues player while the manager who signed him – Frank Burrows – was fired.

Burns was on the Bristol City books as a youth, playing out of league for Brockworth, Sharpness and Cheltenham before taking his break from the Football League.

The midfielder was then 23 years old and played 116 Pompey games and scored 12 goals.

He also played for Swansea and Northampton before relegating to the non-league with Gloucester City and until he was 50.

More recently, Jed Wallace was at Ryman’s premier with Lewes when he was offered trial training, including a game behind closed doors against Swindon.

Pompey signed the 17-year-old in August 2011 and gave him a long-term contract, although he was initially to be employed as a second-year scholarship holder at the academy.

Wallace would make 121 appearances and score 30 times for the Blues before being sold to Wolves for £ 750,000 in May 2015.

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After a two-year stay at Molineux, he finally moved to Millwall, where he has appeared 221 times and scored 37 goals.

The now 27-year-old signed up for the championship team eleven times last season.

The strike couple Guy Whittingham and Lee Bradbury were actually signed into the Army by the Blues and would forge productive careers.

However, both also played in non-league football while serving their country.

Bradbury played for the East Cowes Vics first team at the age of 15 before serving in the Army for Cowes Sports in the Wessex League.

Terry Fenwick invited him on Pompey’s pre-season tour to Scotland in the summer of 1995 and was offered a contract after scoring three goals in four friendly matches.

Financially it was close to his army wage, and he was volunteered to join the Blues with no fee required.

During Fratton’s two terms, Bradbury scored a total of 167 games and 46 goals, while in August 1997 it was sold to Manchester City for a record £ 3.5million fee.

Whittingham was given the number 24623795 after joining the Army at the age of 17.

While on duty, he appeared for Yeovil and Waterlooville before coming on trial in Fratton Park in April 1989 after being discovered by Alan Ball.

Manager John Gregory scored the 24-year-old in three reserve games, including his debut against Charlton.

However, Whittingham was told that £ 450 in compensation was required to remove him from the army, a number he paid himself before it was later refunded by the Blues.

He went to Aston Villa in August 1993, valued at £ 1.2million, with Mark Blake coming the other way.

In total, Whittingham scored 115 goals in 225 games over two Pompey Spells.

After all, Ernie Butler was the only player consistently present in Pompey’s 1948-49 and 1949-50 First Division title-winning seasons.

Not bad for a goalkeeper who was recruited by Jack Tinn from the non-league bath of Bath in May 1938 for a fee of £ 100.

After serving in the Royal Navy during World War II, Butler resumed his career at Fratton Park with Honors.

He played 240 games before retiring in 1953 with a thumb injury, ensuring the Blues were his only Football League club.

Now Liam Vincent has made the climb – time will tell if he can join some of his great non-league predecessors.

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron

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