Summer Chimes#1 - Stadium welcomes the builders
Normally the Sunday Chimes takes the summer off and only returns when the season gets started but as there is plenty of news about Pompey we have put out this heatwave special.
The builders are in
Fratton Park is a hive of activity as workmen prepare the old stadium for life in League One.
Firstly, the pitch has been dug up (again) and re-laid. Apparently, the weather has been perfect to date the surface is looking good. I wonder whether Kenny Jackett will want it watered heavily like Cookie did last season which at times caused some farcical situations with players slipping and sliding in every direction.
All the fire escapes are being replaced and where necessary steps being made the same depth. This was always a problem after converting terraces to seating areas and has led to the safety authorities reducing the ground`s capacity by many hundreds.
The South Stand is also having some work done to enhance fire precautions in the dressing room area which believe or not have not existed before. This work has meant the dressing rooms being completely gutted to allow the work to be carried out.
It certainly is a busy time at the old ground and I have not doubt you will notice the difference when we return in August.
One of Jackett`s first decisions after taking over the reins at Fratton Park was not to offer a contract to Stanley Aborah. Aborah had made four appearances for Pompey in the run in to the League Two title and had earned himself almost a cult status. There is little doubt is Cook had stayed then Stanley would have been offered something but Kenny has decided to go his own way.
The story reminded me of an almost identical situation back in 1980 when Pompey last escaped from the lowest echelon of English Football. The two stories are eerily similar - Stanley played four games and they were all wins, Brown five games with four wins and a draw. Both were midfield players and both instantly became fan`s favourites. They almost seemed like good luck talisman.
Aborah had the fans singing his name at those final games and when Jimmy Brown was introduced to the gathered fans in the Guildhall Square in May 1980 they sang 'give him a contract` sadly the board ignored them.
Stanley, 30 on Thursday, has to look for another club - Wigan? Brown played a few games for Hibernian in his native Scotland.
Strange how things can go around in circles even thirty-seven years apart.
Several years ago, members of Vital Pompey and their families would meet up in the summer months for a social event loosely centred around Hermann Hreidarsson`s birthday on 11th July.
At one of those meets pompeygray travelled from Australia to join us. Well Dave is back in the UK and keen to meet before his returns on 21st July. I had hosted the previous events and would be happy to do so this year. I am on holiday from 7-14 July so suggest Saturday evening 15 July would be the best date.
Pompey play Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium that afternoon and perhaps we can arrange to meet after at 7pm at the Eastney Tavern - food will be available with perhaps the odd pint.
Let me know if you can make it.
How things have changed at Fratton Park in the last few years. Back in the day a succession of poor managerial appointments have been made, often with caretakers involved. There was too much sentiment involved with ex-players given the reins.
Then with the news that Paul Cook was heading to Wigan Chief Executive Mark Catlin acted quickly and identified Kenny Jackett as the best available replacement. He talked to the current board and the prospective new owners and gets the deal done to ensure that there could be a seamless change. Such a professional approach and refreshing to see at a club once the butt of jokes for poor organisation.
Pompey started that week with a manager who had a good CV for escaping League Two. They ended the week with a boss whose CV showed he can get out of League One! That should mean Pompey are in a better situation. Only time will tell though if it is King Kenny or No Jackett required.