Harry Perritt admitted that going from a ball boy at the Wham Stadium to making his Accrington Stanley League One debut was a dream come true – but he did wonder if he would ever get there.
The defender, who has just turned 20, has had two massive setbacks in the last two years which threatened to halt his Reds first team career before it had barely started.
But he came on in the 85th minute in the 3-1 win over Wigan Athletic on Saturday for that League One bow and it was a special moment for the Academy product.
“My League One debut has been a long time coming,” said Harry, who has been with the Reds from Under 12 level.
“It’s been such a long journey since I was a ball boy in the stands when I was younger watching the first team play to someone playing in that team. It’s crazy really. I have come a long way.”
Harry was a first year professional when, on 21st August 2019, he broke his arm.
“I was out for four months and it was hard as then Covid struck and the season finished.
“In between last season finishing in March and this season starting, I got myself fit, I was running every day, doing 5ks, I was in the gym and I played against Oldham in a pre-season friendly where I felt I had a great game.
“I played against Southport and scored a goal and was thinking this was my biggest season so far where I looked to make the breakthrough.
“Then about a week later, ironically on 21st August 2020, I broke my ankle in training and it turned into a nightmare. I have told the management I am not training on 21st August 2021!
“It was so mentally tough, it was the most challenging time of my playing career, it was the hardest thing I have ever been through. I didn’t have an operation, I just had a boot on and so I couldn’t put a lot of weight on my leg and I couldn’t even start my recovery for a couple of months.
“For six or seven weeks I could barely do anything. The loneliness was hard, staring at the same four walls in the gym on my own.
“All that makes making my League One debut an even better memory, from what I have been through to how far I have come.”
Stanley were leading 3-1 when Harvey Rodgers went down injured in the 85th minute and John Coleman gave Harry the nod.
“I would like to say I was calm but I wasn’t! When I saw Harvey go down, I knew I was the only right back on the bench and I think I was on the pitch for nine minutes and I can’t remember the first four or five! It’s like a blur.
“What I know now is that, after that, I have to work even harder. I have proved I can play in the first team but I have to keep going.
“My aim now is to get a few more appearances by the end of the season and then push to start next season to play week in week out.”
He has joined Ross Sykes and Toby Savin who have recently come all the way through the Academy with the Reds.
“I was in the 16s when Ross and Reagan Ogle were in the youth team and I have come through with Toby.
“I made my Accrington Stanley debut against Lincoln this season in the Papa John’s Trophy but making my League One debut was even more special. It was massive for me and great to be playing alongside Toby in the first team.”