Bristol Rovers fans interest was peaked by the FA Cup preliminary rounds last September when a young midfielder for Bristol Manor Farm sealed a brace against Cadbury Heath to become the youngest goalscorer in the competition at 16 years and 54 days old.
Evander Grubb had made FA Cup history for a Bristol team but the reason for such attention from the blue and white side of the city was because he had been part of Rovers’ academy not long before that moment.
Following his exploits for Manor Farm, the Radstock teenager was snapped up by Championship Huddersfield with the silky playmaker/winger now part of their Under-19 set-up and trained with the first-team last season.
In an interview with FourFourTwo magazine, Evander’s father Marvin has claimed that his son was released by the Gas at 15, not so much for technical or football deficiencies, but because he was too small.
“Bristol Rovers was like his family,” Marvin said. “They knew he was small and were nurturing him; he was one of the most technically gifted players on their books.
“But then, suddenly, they told us he had no place at the club. Evander was absolutely traumatised.
“The phone didn’t stop ringing when he got released as he is so technical. But when we went to trials, it was evident something was putting people off. He looked as if he could have played three years down.”
After a series of unsuccessful trials, in which the same observation was made, the 5ft 2ins Grubb linked up with a company called ProChance who help released trainees get back into the professional game, through advice, guidance and showcases such as exit trials.
When Grubb’s FA Cup exploits alerted a number of teams, ProChance helped Evander and Marvin to settle on Huddersfield and two years after being told he was too small to make it, Grubb is halfway through a two-year scholarship contract.
“A lot of clubs were interested after that FA Cup match,” added Marvin. “But parents aren’t football industry people, so I didn’t know what to do. If your child signs for the wrong club, you could end up back where you started 18 months later.
“So we worked with ProChance and they oversaw all of that. Liam said he wanted to get Evander the right club and recommended Huddersfield Town. Evander went up there and had a great time, overseen by Liam all the way. He signed a couple of weeks later.”
Rovers’ academy has been in the spotlight already this summer with the club having sold talents Kyrie Pierre, 15, and Bradley Burrowes, 13, to Premier League Aston Villa.