In an exclusive sit-down chat, the forward discusses his decision to join the Tigers, his frustrating spell on the sidelines earlier this season and how he is adjusting to life in the East Riding of Yorkshire…
Although it has been over four months since Ryan Longman agreed to join Hull City on a season-long loan from Premier League outfit Brighton and Hove Albion, it feels that now is the perfect opportunity for the forward to kickstart his season.
It has been a hugely frustrating start to life at the MKM Stadium for the 21-year-old. Having featured regularly throughout pre-season as Grant McCann began planning for life back in the Championship, Longman missed the big kick-off at Deepdale having contracted Covid-19 along with three other first-team players.
Eager to not let that delay him making his competitive debut for the Tigers, Longman was named in the starting line-up for the visit of Queens Park Rangers a week later having recovered from the virus. However, just 35 minutes into that game at the MKM Stadium, he was forced off with a groin injury which kept him out of the squad for another two games.
“It (Covid-19) came at the worst time for me,” said Longman. “We’d just finished pre-season and I’d got a few games under my belt and was feeling confident. It hit me like a brick wall. That’s football I guess - I was just unlucky and it’s one of those things. All of the lads and the staff have been supportive and they know what I’m capable of. I know what I’m capable of as well, I just need to go out there and prove it now.”
Longman certainly showed what he is capable of in his previous loan spell last season at AFC Wimbledon in League One. In his first spell away from the Amex Stadium, Longman made 44 league appearances for the Dons, an experience that he remains extremely grateful for.
“For a loan player to get the amount of games that I got last season was brilliant,” he remarked. “To get the opportunity to showcase what I’m all about is all that you can ask for. I can’t thank the club and the management there enough for giving me that opportunity.”
Not only was his decision to join the Tigers in the summer just the second time that he had decided to play his football away from Brighton, but it was also the first time the youngster has had to move away from home. The international break has provided him with the perfect opportunity to take on the four-hour drive back down south to spend some time with his family, but he says moving away was an important part of his development.
“That’s a reason why I decided to come up here because I’ve never been away from home,” he said. “Wimbledon was around a 20-minute drive from my house and Brighton is 40 minutes, so I’ve always been local to home which has been nice. I do think with anyone’s football journey they’ve got to move away from home at some point, so this was a really good opportunity for me to do that.”
Having played twice against the Tigers in 2020/21 for Wimbledon, Longman already had a good idea of what to expect when he walked through the door. After having a few conversations over the phone with the manager, there was no doubt in his mind about making the move up to the East Riding of Yorkshire.
“Watching how Hull City played definitely pushed me in this direction,” he admitted. “I like the style of play as it’s very attack-minded. The manager is very attack-minded as well. I think that sort of pushed me over the line to come here. I spoke to him a few times on the phone before I came and saw the facilities. I met some of the lads and I just thought that the atmosphere was brilliant. As soon as I came here, I thought that this was the place for me.”
Longman’s competitive debut against QPR back in August may have been short-lived, but it was enough for him to appreciate the feeling of having supporters back in the stadium, something he was unable to experience at Wimbledon due to the restrictions in place throughout last season.
“We didn’t have fans in grounds last season which was frustrating,” he said. “That’s why you go out on loan to experience that atmosphere. This season I came off with a groin injury in my first game against QPR, but the atmosphere when we were walking out was immense. I’ve never felt it in my life. It was brilliant and I really enjoyed it. I think I just thrive off the fans.”
Not only has Longman enjoyed being backed by supporters this season, but also by his family who continue to travel up and down the country to watch him in action.
“They literally come to every single game,” he said. “They have even come abroad when we’ve had games abroad and things like that. They’re brilliant - all of them. My brother is a bit older than me and always comes to the games. When I played up at Rangers once, they even drove up there. They always support me at all of the games.”
With the Tigers set to return to the MKM Stadium at the weekend against Birmingham City, Longman will be hoping to feature not only to experience the atmosphere once again, but to also build on his return to the squad just before the international break. Speaking after scoring in an in-house 11v11 at the training ground in Cottingham, Longman feels that now is the time for him to show what he is all about.
“I feel a lot better now,” Longman said. “I had a bit of a rocky start with the virus and a bit of a niggle in the groin. I feel a lot better and I’m nearly back up to 100%. I think it’s time for me to stamp my ground now. There are no excuses anymore.”