Bognor snap up young prospect after his Pompey departure

Joe Hancott believes he has unfinished business when it comes to his development as a footballer. And the left-back reckons Bognor Regis Town is the place to fulfil those ambitions.

Joe Hancott in a previous Bognor spell
Joe Hancott in a previous Bognor spell

Hancott, aged 20, has put pen to paper on a deal to sign for the Nye Camp aces after leaving League One Portsmouth following 12 years at Fratton Park.

The technically-gifted defender spent a short loan period with the Rocks in 2019 and was able to get a taste of the way manager Jack Pearce and coach Robbie Blake aim to play the game.

So, when his time ended at Pompey it was an easy decision to make, he says. It was made easier through his friendships with the likes of ex-Rocks Dan Smith and Ethan Robb, both of whom have gone on to play at a higher level, at Eastleigh and Brentford respectively.

But in between joining Bognor and during a long stint side-lined with an ACL injury, Hancott admits he did consider quitting the game altogether. Thankfully, he soon dispelled the notion of hanging up his boots – and a new, exciting chapter awaits in green and white.

He said: "I am really looking forward to joining up with the lads and playing for Bognor next season. Having spent time at the club I saw what it was all about and love the approach. I've also chatted with Dan and Ethan and seen how they have progressed and I am ready to give it another go. I definitely have some unfinished business and believe I have a lot to offer.

"For a period, I did struggle mentally when I did my ACL, it was so frustrating. I had to have two operations and it was hard. Yes, there were times when I thought I might quit. But now I am raring to go and can't wait to get started."

Hancott, who lives on the Isle of Wight, has found a job as a PE coach at a local school and will combine that role with his non-league playing career.

Pearce is delighted to be able to snare Hancott, who created Pompey history in August 2017 when he became the Blues’ youngest post-war debutant aged 16 years and 161 days. And he went on to feature on three occasions for Kenny Jackett’s first-team. Pearce said: “Joe’s a real prospect and it’s great to be able to welcome him to the squad. We believe we can help in on his journey and I am sure his development will continue with us.”

Blake, who worked with Hancott during his stint with the Blues under the then manager Paul Cook, described his Rocks loan debut against Haringey two years ago as “different class”. And speaking of the pathway the Rocks provided for Robb – one which Hancott will be desperate to replicate – he said: “Ethan’s move to Brentford is a stark reminder to our players that, if at first you don’t get a professional contract, you should never give up on your dream.”