Pitman joins Royals in ambitious swoop

By Connor Steel

AFC PORTCHESTER announced arguably their biggest signing in their history on Friday afternoon as they confirmed that former Portsmouth striker Brett Pitman had joined the club for the 2022-23 campaign as a player / coach; with the professional attacker bringing much needed experience and goals to the Royals as they look to challenge for promotion to the Southern League Premier Division One after previous heartache.

The thirty-four year old striker joins the Royals from Bristol Rovers as he was made a free agent on June 30 by the League Two outfit; with this latest move being only his second ever spell in non-league football after a loan period with National League side Eastleigh from January this year. Previously the attacker has played for many teams within the professional football pyramid, including successful spells across the South Coast.

His biggest legacy comes at Portsmouth following a transfer from Ipswich in 2017; hitting twenty four goals in his first season at Fratton Park and finishing with 42 in 99 games across a three season spell. After he fast became a fan favourite, Pitman was made the club captain and was the last one to lift Wembley silverware; helping to win the 2018-19 EFL Cup final with a shootout victory over Sunderland following a 2-2 stalemate.

Pitman is just as popular with another former club AFC Bournemouth; scoring ninety-six goals in a total of 267 appearances from the Cherries across two individual spells. The first between 2005 and 2010 was more individually profitable as his goals helped the club maintain their fragile status in league football following financial difficulties; which nearly bankrupted the Cherries amidst relegation from League One in 2007-08.

He returned to Dean Court in 2013 after a loan spell under Eddie Howe, helping the Cherries seal promotion from League One in 2013-14 with a top scoring twenty goals throughout the campaign. And the following season he scored thirteen goals in 34 displays as AFC Bournemouth won the Championship title; winning promotion to the Premier League for the 1st time in their history for the 2015-16 year before he left the team.

Alongside Portsmouth and AFC Bournemouth; Pitman has played for many EFL clubs during his seventeen year career winning promotions and suffering relegations on multiple occasions. He has had spells at Bristol City, Ipswich, Swindon Town, Bristol Rovers and nearly joined Blackpool only for the deal to fall through. However the striker has not played a single Premier League match or made an international appearance.

But this won’t matter to Pitman who has joined the Royals on a one-year deal set to expire next June dropping five leagues in the process, where he hopes to help the team win promotion to the Southern League both on and off the pitch. The striker will also feature as a coach and will offer experience to his teammates alongside manager Dave Carter; with Pitman delighted at his move to the Wessex Premier.

In a short interview with club media, the striker said: “I’m really looking forward to it. Obviously for me it is something a little bit different coming out of full time football but I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a really good set up here. I’m looking forward to getting started and hopefully having a successful year.

“It’s going to be different to what I’m used to but it is something I’m looking forward to and at this stage of my career it enables me to do some coaching as well, which is something I’m really looking forward to doing.”

Speaking about his great relationship with boss Dave Carter and the club’s ambitions, he stated: “I’ve had a good chat with the manager and the club want to win the league so I think that’s the aim – obviously it’s going to be difficult. On a personal level hopefully I can bring some experience and score a few goals.”

Portchester manager Carter added his own thoughts on the club website: “It’s great to get the signing of Brett over the line. Myself and the committee members worked hard to get Brett on board with us. He brings a vast amount of experience to the club and I’m sure there will be plenty of quality and goals from him.”

“Brett will also be joining the first team staff and helping out with training sessions and coaching on match days. I’m really looking forward to working with him this season (2022-23) and so are the first team squad.”

It is unknown whether Pitman will feature in the upcoming pre-season games this weekend as Portchester start with a trip to Lymington on Saturday afternoon, before going to Dorset on Tuesday for their warm-up encounter against Dorchester Town with a 7.45pm at the Avenue. More information on official pre-season preparations can be found on the club’s social media or via their club website link available to readers here.

PICTURED BY AFC PORTCHESTER: Pitman proudly models merchandise as he signs for the new season.