This interview appeared in the matchday programme this weekend and is reproduced by kind permission of Lincoln City. To avoid missing the excellent interviews every week, make sure you buy your copies of the programme in advance by clicking here.
23-year-old Remy Howarth made headlines in Lincoln over the summer when he was unmasked as the mysterious ‘Trialist A’ who stumped the fanbase.
The former Blackburn Rovers remained an enigma until right up to signing his deal with the club and he admits that it was exciting, but not a distraction from the task in hand.
“It was mad actually, all the speculation,” he said when we caught up with him earlier this week.
“I wasn’t trying to focus on it though, I was just focused on performing and doing my best. A lot of family and friends were sending me stuff that appeared on Twitter. I don’t do Twitter myself, but it was quality. The main thing I took from it though was just how big the fanbase was. There was loads of positive energy and it felt really good.”
Howarth earned himself a deal with the club after impressing in pre-season and has since featured in cup matches for the Imps, but his journey to the LNER Stadium has not been conventional, after looking for a move from Welsh side Cefn Druids.
“During lockdown I put all my clips together and sent them to a friend of a friend who is an agent and who knows the gaffer. He sent them over to Lincoln, the gaffer wanted to have a look at me and invited me down for a trial. I had my trial; it was successful and now I’m here. It was crazy really, just crazy.”
Remy’s football journey has taken him from Blackburn Under 23s to Wales via non-league spells with Skelmersdale and Ashton United, as well as a serious injury, but the chatty attacker’s determination has helped deliver him his chance with the Imps.
“It was tough, really tough,” he said of being released by Blackburn. “I had a year and a half gap out of football completely. I had an injury in my back which meant I couldn’t run for a year and that was very hard. Going from being a pro at Blackburn to not being able to put my socks on or get out of bed in a morning, it was tough. After that, I just had to fight my way back, I had a couple of loans in non-league, made a couple of moves, and thankfully it has all worked out.
“There is an improved awareness of the impact of injury and being released as a youngster in football, but I still think there’s a lot to be done as well. Football was all I’d ever known, ever since I was six. I’ve known other lads who have had some injuries and not been able to bounce back. It’s all you know, your identity is ‘I’m a footballer’, and when that is taken away from you at the age of 19, it can be hard to get around and work it out.”
With so many players out of contract over the summer and competition for deals intense, Remy admits you just must remain focused.
“I would do literally anything to get back into pro football. I was working at the time I made the move to Wales and it was a lot of travelling too, but I could see the vision. I believed in myself and it worked out, but it was hard.”
“That’s why you just have to crack on and focus. You just have to work as hard as you can, always believe in yourself and do whatever it takes. I’m grateful for this chance and am just going to work as hard as possible to do my best.”
Remy had to do his best on and off the field after being welcomed into the squad as a trialist over the summer, as he headed out to Manchester as part of the pre-season preparations for team bonding.
“I went down to Manchester pre-season with the lads, and it felt amazing. I felt wanted, which was important. The lads were treating me like part of the team already, as were the staff. It isn’t usual that a trialist goes away on a stay away like that, which made me feel special.”
Part of that trip involved the new faces doing their initiation songs, something Remy took full part in.
“Oh my god! There were some good voices across the squad, but some were a shambles as well. I got to do mine, which made me feel even closer to the squad. I did a bit of Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver. It went down really well. All the lads were joining in though on the songs, getting up and dancing and giving off really good vibes. It was mint.”
Previously, we were told Alex Bradley’s wasn’t quite up to scratch, but Remy is remaining tightlipped.
“That was the one, he got a few boos, but I’ll say no more.”
Whilst his singing went down well with the rest of the squad, don’t expect to see Remy popping up on Britain’s Got Talent anytime soon, after we asked if he had any other talent he would like to showcase.
“That’s a tough one, isn’t it? I only really know football! I’d have to do a bit of football freestyle, that might go down well. I don’t have much else in the locker, I can’t really sing or dance. I could sing Country Roads whilst doing kick-ups, that might get me through.”
Whilst he might have to muddle through a live TV talent show, one thing he has done well is settle into the local area. Now Remy is a full-time pro, he’s been able to move to Lincoln with his partner and settle in, something he is enthusiastic about.
“Lincoln is amazing. The club itself was really welcoming and the coaching staff and players are class. I’m just learning every day. I’m absolutely loving it.
“It’s the same with Lincoln as a city; me and the missus moved here recently and we’re loving it, we’re going on loads of walks and stuff like that, just settling in nicely.”
“I love going on walks, bike rides and stuff like that. I don’t actually know the names of places we go to walk though! We literally just go out in the car, see some fields and think ‘yeah, that’s a great place for a walk’, and off we go. I go to the gym with my girlfriend quite a bit, she’s really into that as well, as we do a lot together.”
All that lays ahead for our number 17 is hard work now as he focuses on getting himself into the first team, and establish himself as a Lincoln City player.
“Of course, I’m dying to get on the pitch! Competition for places is high and we’ve got a really strong squad. Even on the bench, you look around and everyone can make a difference. It does make for a good environment. I just want to progress as much as I can, and hopefully, get near the first team to help them to success.”
Whilst Remy has his personal goals, he also has a high aspiration for the team too.
“As a club, let’s try and get as close to the play-offs as we can.”
There is a goal which I think every single Lincoln City fan would love to see us come close to achieving and if everyone works as hard this season as Remy Howarth has to earn himself the role of League One footballer, we wouldn’t rule anything out.
In a rather fitting postscript to this piece, not only did Remy’s interview appear in the Bristol Rovers programme, but he made his Football League debut against the Gas as well.