That lobbed goal over the keeper to take Pompey to penalties in the Checkatrade Trophy final against Sunderland. That’s my best memory of Jamal Lowe, as a Portsmouth player at least.
Scoring 29 goals in 119 appearances for the Blues, he was definitely a fan favourite.
He was also too good to be here. They say that no player is bigger than the club – well, some players are better than the rest of the team. And the team was one that was desperately trying to (unsuccessfully) get out of League One, where it didn’t belong. A league which was meant to be merely a town you pass through on the A road to get to where you’re meant to be – the Championship.
Pompey unfortunately have been stuck in that halfway house of a league for 4 years now, and players of Jamal’s quality who come around once in a while bring fear. Fear that they will be departing this basket-case of a league, with or without the club they play for.
And that’s exactly what happened in 2019, when Lowe departed Fratton Park in favour ex-Pompey boss Paul Cook’s Championship side Wigan Athletic, where he scored 6 goals in 48 appearances. The Latics unfortunately also couldn’t keep hold of the forward, especially after their 22nd place finish which saw them stoop back down to League One with the rest of us muggles.
After a year-long spell at Championship side Swansea City, Lowe signed for another south-coast side – Bournemouth. Scott Parkers Cherries put in a shift throughout the 2021/22 campaign, and gained promotion to the Premier League via second place.
Lowe wasn’t a regular starter for Parker, but with 7 goals in 36 appearances, you can certainly say he had a part to play in this story.
This feat arises to significance, when you take into consideration Lowe’s humble beginnings. We all have to start somewhere, but the ex-Pompey forward was playing part-time non-league football whilst working as a PE teacher just 5 years ago. In an interview with Sky Sports, he even admitted that the school gig made him better off financially than playing non-league football – but he still did it, and 5 years later he’s holding up a banner with “We’re Going Up” written on it. If that’s not motivational enough for you, I’m afraid I have no alternatives.
As a football fan, seeing promising stars come out of non-league and plough into the country’s elite division is something that should be cherished and admired. It’s the underlining factor that makes the English football pyramid what it is, and further amplifies the need to protect it and help it grow.
As a Portsmouth fan, it’s even better when my club can play a part in that journey, allowing me to witness a small portion of that story, and once upon a time having a vested interest in its progression.
Lowe still has 2 years left on his contract with Bournemouth, which indicates that we will see his involvement in Premier League games next season.
Matt Clarke, who left Portsmouth at the same time as Lowe, is due to return to parent club Brighton & Hove Albion who purchased the centre-back for an undisclosed fee after Pompey failed to get out of League One in 2019. The centre-back spent two seasons on loan at Derby County, and one at The Hawthorns with West Brom, but hasn’t yet made an appearance for the team from South Sussex. Clarke and Lowe may well meet at the south cost derby next season, providing a loan transfer back down to the Championship isn’t on the cards for the ex PE teacher.