Pompey no Mickey Mouse club

The news this week that Michael Eisner, 75, the former Walt Disney chief, is interested in buying Portsmouth, suddenly doesn’t sound like make-believe after the club entered into a 70-day period of exclusive negotiations.

Walt Disney, so the story goes, started a number of business’s that didn’t last too long and ended with bankruptcy and failure.

He kept persevering and eventually found a formula for success and the rest is history.

His most famous icon, Mickey Mouse, was based on the success of the little guy against all the odds.

Portsmouth and Mickey Mouse appear to have more in common than you think!

It is about time this great club had something to chime about.

Play up Pompey

That was one for the Fratton Park fans; credits The News

I joined Portsmouth in 2013 after leaving their south coast rivals Southampton.

The Saints were flying on their way to The Premier League, whilst I was on my way to a League One club who were in free fall.

I was 35, my body had taken a battering, and I had a right knee which was in a brace after suffering a bad medial ligament injury.

I needed a helping hand as much as Portsmouth did!

Once I arrived though, I realised I was just one of many waifs and strays who had found their way aboard this ship, heading into the most troubled waters.

Each and every player there was new, after the entire squad from the 2012-2013 season had left the club following relegation to League One.

The Pompey physiotherapist Steve Allen was a long time friend whom I had known since my days at Wimbledon in 2000.

He invited me down to the club to try to get back playing.

I worked on my rehab and slowly started to think about turning out for this great club.

I began playing again, albeit in fleeting moments and happily, once I was back up to speed, ended up signing a month’s contract.

Everything must go

The iconic exterior of this great club; credits Getty Images

Every player was on a month to month contract, as anything and everything was up for sale whilst the club tried to navigate its way to safety.

They couldn’t risk or afford to sign players for any longer than that.

I remember leaving Fratton Park once, after renewing my month’s contract and the chairs from the boardroom were piled up outside the stadium entrance, waiting for someone to collect after being sold.

It was surreal times as this great club, which regularly had crowds higher than most Championship sides, appeared destined to go out of business despite having 16,000-17,000 fans coming through the turnstiles, regardless of its perilous position.

In the background, the carousel of players joining and leaving on one month contracts continued, until the club exited administration.

At one point there was something like 40- 50 players used in a matter of months and wins were hard to find.

I scored against Crewe in a 1-2 victory, to give Portsmouth its first win in over 23 matches and the relief was enormous.

Shortly afterwards, with the debts paid off and The Pompey Supporters’ Trust ( PST) now firmly part of the club’s ownership structure,the club exited administration.

Portsmouth salvaged 

Singing in the rain; credits Getty Images

We played Brentford just after the club was saved, and despite scoring, we fell to two late goals to lose 3-2.

The result on the pitch didn’t dampen the fans’ incredible passion and as the rain poured down, they invaded the pitch at the final whistle, ecstatic that a deal had finally been done to save their club.

In the dressing room afterwards, the players were absolutely gutted, we had been leading with only a few minutes to go, although once more, we had not lived up to our side of the bargain.

We made up for this defeat with a brilliant victory over Sheffield United in the last game of the season at Fratton Park and I scored again to cap a good end to the season.

Nonetheless, League Two beckoned, although that didn’t deter the fans.

10,000 bought season tickets, a record for a club in the lowest division and I will never forget the queues snaking round Frogmore Road.

Despite starting well, the season was a disaster as we struggled to adapt to life in League Two, something which has continued ever since, until now it appears.

The club are currently in the third automatic spot and six points clear of Stevenage in fourth, with seven games remaining.

This nightmare tale may just have a happy ending after all and let me tell you, Portsmouth is no Mickey Mouse club.

 

 

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