Horsham Football Club are delighted to learn that former U18 goalkeeper Harry Griffiths has been invited to join Premier League Crystal Palace’s academy until the end of the season, with a view to securing a scholarship next season.

Griff’ joined the Hornets at the beginning of this season, having been encouraged to trial for Mark Hawthorne’s newly formed Under 18 squad by goalkeeping coach Stuart Owens whose ‘SokGoalkeeping Academy’ he had attended for some time previously.

A busy pre-season saw 15 year old Harry establish himself in the squad with a number of assured performances and then feature in the FA Youth Cup tie at Burgess Hill. Anyone who was at that game will recall the outstanding, full stretch, save he made just before half-time to keep the score at 0-0, a game that the young Hornets went on to lose narrowly 1-0.

Another good performance in the U18s’ first league game against local rivals Three Bridges helped the team pick up a share of the points in a 3-3 draw. During this time Harry was invited to train with Horsham’s first team squad, alongside Brad House and George Bentley, and it was here that he came to the attention of then first team assistant manager, and ex-goalkeeper, Ross Standen who put the young ‘keeper’s name forward to a contact at AFC Wimbledon.

While with Wimbledon, Harry was fortunate enough to feature for both their U16 and U18 squads and it was during a showcase game that he came to the attention of Crystal Palace, with whom he’d previously had a six week trial before coming to Horsham. Despite AFC Wimbledon making him an offer, and after taking advice from the likes of Owens, Harry took up Palace’s offer to join them for the remainder of the season with the hope of securing a scholarship with them next season.

This has given the ‘keeper the opportunity to continue to train, and play, at Palace’s new £20 million pound category 1 academy centre in Beckenham against some of the Premier League’s other elite academy squads, including the likes of Tottenham Hotspur.

Hawthorne, who himself featured in Crystal Palace’s youth set up in the early 1990’s culminating in a two legged FA Youth Cup final appearance against Manchester United’s ‘class of ‘92’, was keen to praise Harry’s work ethic and the positive influence of Stuart Owens. “Harry’s physique and temperament, combined with his dedication in training, was an indication of what a good player he can be” he said. “It came as no surprise to me that he’s been picked up by a pro club’.

Hawthorne was also quick to express his gratitude towards Owens. “Stuart helps us immensely. He’s an excellent coach and gives great encouragement to the young goalkeepers at the club. With two of our other development squad goalkeepers featuring in the first team practice games, it shows that there is a great goalkeeper pathway at the club”.

In turn, Owens was also quick to thank both George Bentley and Brad House for their encouragement of the young ‘keeper during his time at Horsham FC.

All of us here at Horsham Football Club wish Harry the very best of luck and will be following his progress with interest.

Photo courtesy of Stuart Owens

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