The life of a footballer is littered with risk-taking and sacrifice.
Reagan Ogle is no different. Forging a life for himself in the northeast of England with League Two outfit Hartlepool United, the Wollongong-born fullback and his family took a huge gamble when leaving life in New South Wales for Lancashire early in 2011.
“I’m from Wollongong, which is about an hour south of Sydney”, said Ogle when speaking to Kick360.
“I played for my local town Thirroul, I was with them from four, five until I was about nine, and then there was this academy that started up in New South Wales called ‘Project 22’, so I did that for a year, it was Australia’s bid to get the World Cup so what New South Wales wanted to do was train, hopefully, the best players that would break through and play for the Aussie team in the World Cup.
“That lasted for a year, unfortunately, Australia didn’t get the World Cup, so that changed into something else but after my first year, that’s when I pulled the trigger at age 11, I decided as a family we’d move to England.
“At first, the easy side was that I was leaving primary school and I was going into high school anyway, so that kind of didn’t have a big effect. It was more that was just me and mum at first, just literally the visa and how I’m able to live over here. For nearly four months, it was me and mum, we had come over at the start of winter, one of the worst winters we’ve had probably since we’ve been here.
“It was a big shock to the system straight away, straight into high school, obviously I don’t sound the same to everyone else around me, so it was kind of daunting, the odd one out in a sense. It was good in a way, it helped me settle in a little more but all in all, it was probably the best-case scenario to come to England at such a tough time, that kind of set me up for the years to come.”
It was then-League Two outfit Accrington Stanley that allowed the young Australian the chance to integrate himself into the cut-throat nature of the English footballing pyramid, agreeing to a deal just before making the move to England.
“I came over for a couple of weeks, I had a friend who came over who was also trialling at clubs, he was trialling at Blackburn and lucky for him he got a deal. I came over, trialled at a couple of clubs and I actually got a deal with Accrington straight away, and that was the whole point of moving.
“I had a deal over here before we moved, so we agreed to the deal and thought why not, we may as well give it a shot. My family were more than happy to do it, and to this day until forever, I probably owe them a lot more than I can repay them. We bit the bullet, signed at ‘Accy’ straight away, and then ended up spending ten years there.”
A young Ogle joined Ribblesdale High School upon arrival in England, later adding himself to a growing list of students who went on to play in the Football League after leaving the school, containing the likes of current League Two top scorer Dominic Telford, Blackburn Rovers centre-half Scott Wharton and one-time Oldham Athletic defender Jack Truelove, who spent time in the Victorian State League 1 with Mornington between 2017-18.
“In every year, there was someone who progressed into the Football League now, so the caliber of football at the school was impressive and I think that helped me in a way, looking up to the older lads, a couple of lads were at bigger clubs to what I was at, so watching them and staying in contact with a few of them over the years, I’ve ended up playing against a few of them so it was a good stepping stone to have those older players above me to learn off and see on a daily basis at school.”
Ogle rose through the ranks at the Crown Ground, making his senior Stanley debut in a 4-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers’ U-23 side in the EFL Trophy in the 2016/17 season, coming on as a second-half substitute away at Molineux at the age of just 17.
“It kind of just sticks with you. It wasn’t the first time I was on the bench, but it was a big deal playing away at Wolves, such a big ground, but I’ve got all the memories, you’re in the squad and you travel but you don’t know if you’re actually going to be on the bench, let alone come on.
“I was still a youth team player at the time, I think I was 17, and you think you’re along for the ride, you enjoy it and you take it in, different atmosphere, it’s obviously very different to being in the youth team and being there and then you get named on the team sheet, you’re kind of thinking ‘Sweet, I’m on the bench’, then the call when you’re warming up that you’re going to come on. Lucky for me I got 15-20 minutes, but even if it was five, you know it’s your debut, it got the ball rolling.
Once you get a taste for it, you want more.”
That season, Ogle unsuccessfully trialled at Stoke City whilst they were still competing at England’s top table, playing a full match for their U-23 side against their West Ham United counterparts, but was unable to snare himself a deal to keep him in the Potteries.
After making six appearances in league and cup the following year, he was unable to embed himself into Accrington’s first team, leading to a flurry of loan moves in non-league football. Ramsbottom, Wealdstone, Southport and Fylde all took the defender onto their books, as the youngster learnt a valuable football lesson in England’s semi-professional surroundings.
“I speak to a lot of the younger lads that I was at ‘Accy’ with and I say if you can get out on loan get out, it’s the best thing I personally did. At Ramsbottom, I was 17 at the time, and you’re coming up against grown men that maybe aren’t great footballers but they’re definitely a lot bigger than you, so it teaches you to either move the ball or get kicked, and you don’t really want to be kicked by a full-grown man at a younger age, you want to avoid that at all costs.
“It definitely taught me the rough side of the game, and how to get around it. Obviously, you progress up, Southport, Fylde in the Conference North was more football but still the physical side, you’ve got more eyes on you. I was lucky enough to have a few cup runs with Southport, managed to get Tranmere in the FA Cup, took them to a replay at ours after drawing 1-1 at their place so a lot of eyes were on us, that was on BT, so a lot of people are watching you and you kind of get your name out there.
“For such a small club low down in the leagues doing so well, it definitely paved the way for me to turn me more into the footballer I am today in terms of my strength, my size and my ability.”
After a decade with for Accrington Stanley and opportunities in the third tier remaining limited, Ogle reacquainted himself with League Two once more, signing for Hartlepool in July of this year after their promotion from the National League, featuring seventeen times for the Pools in all competitions at the time of writing so far this season.
“I get more confidence by each day, each training session, each game. There was times there where I was at Accrington and I wasn’t getting games, wasn’t getting in the squad and I’m thinking, ‘Am I good enough?’ A change of scenery, fresh air really does you a world of good, I mean you see it in football all over the world, players become either miles better or unfortunately, it can go the other way.
“For me, I feel like I’ve hit the ground running here, a great team, great bunch of lads. I’m really enjoying my time here, obviously I’ve moved up here now so I’ve made that change of scenery. With the managerial change, it’s a tough period for any player because you’re starting from scratch, you’ve got to impress again. Lucky for me, I was given a shot in the FA Cup, and I feel like I’ve done myself justice and put the right foot forward and now I’ve got to continue to do that and week by week, training session by training session, I just to keep improving and keep impressing.”
While luck is starting to turn for the better at club level, an international call-up for the Socceroos has so far eluded the right-back, with representing his country remaining an aspiration he hopes to fulfil later in his career.
“I think I’d be lying if it isn’t in the back of my head. I feel like as a kid growing up, you want to play for your country, if anyone says they don’t, they don’t think of it they are lying. It’s something I’m striving towards.
“It is a bit tough over here, I know there’s one or two that are breaking through but I know they are quite focused on the A-Leagues, but I feel like I’ve got the ability maybe one day if I’m still here or I end up moving back to Australia, I’m confident that I can get that cap. It’s definitely there in the back of my mind, it pops up in the back of my mind and spurs me on.”
Reagan Ogle has already achieved so much in his career, and if he can cement himself at Victoria Park, the Socceroos’ next potential right-back may well be about to blossom.