He Played For Them Too! - City: Paul Walsh
This Sunday Pompey entertain Manchester City at Fortress Fratton and I found I had a few players to pick from:
The obvious choices, looking at our current squad, would be one of the two players to have featured in every minute of our premiership campaign so far this season;
James or Distin.
Jamo, the 'Foreman of the Laundry' joined us from City in August 2006 for £1.2m whereas Sylvain one of the best Centre Halves in the Premiership was unbelievably wrapped up in sky blue ribbons and gifted to us on a free by Stuart Pearce!
I could have chosen Andrew 'Andy' Cole whose £500,000 move from City a week or so after David James never really captured the imagination; either that of the player or the Pompey's fans. So much so that the one time Newcastle & Manchester Untied goal machine left Fratton Park with the reputation of being no more than greedy journeyman.
I could have gone back a few years and chosen Kit Symons who spent seven years and made 160 appearances for Pompey before moving to Manchester City in the summer of 1995 for a £1.2million fee. Funny how Symons cost Man City the same as we paid for Jamo ... Twelve years earlier!!
There are others too, including;
Eyal Berkovic (Free - Jan 2004), Martin Phillips (£100,000 - Aug 1998) or even Anthony 'I only played for Pompey once' Fenton (Free - March 1999) or better still the little known Paul Smith!
We could have chosen Michael Brown or Paul Ritchie who we loaned from City in 1999 & 2002 respectively.
And let's not forget, Lee Bradbury who moved to Maine Road for £3M in July 1997 (bargain!)
But when all is said and done the focus has to be on only one man... Walshy. The blonde bombshell was one of the most exciting players ever to have graced Fratton Park (and Maine Road). So when considering who to choose it really was a no brainer especially as, not only did we sell him to City... we also brought him back again!
Although Walshy played for the likes of Liverpool and Spurs before joining Portsmouth I'm positive there isn't a Pompey fan in existence that doesn't believe we had the best out of him.
The former European and League & FA Cup double winner, arrived at Jim Smith's Fratton Park in June 1992 as part of a £400,000 payment for Pompey's 'Player of the Season' Darren "Shaggy" Anderton just months after Shaggy had scored 'that' goal.
At the time I remember thinking that I knew about Walsh and had even seen him play a couple of times but as good as he was, he was in no way as good as the potential we had let go... How wrong I was!
From the moment the Bald Eagle introduced Walshy to a certain Guy Whittingham everybody knew something special was about to happen. We were right! And when on one Saturday in August 1992 he made his debut in a Pompey shirt in the 3-3 draw at Bristol City's, Ashton Gate we all knew that we could live with Anderton's departure .. Maybe, we thought, a hero was in the making.
Walsh was outstanding in that game and more than played his part in helping Corporal Punishment to a bag an opening day hat-trick, but despite that blistering start by the 'W-Act' Pompey's season started very averagely, but a surge of form towards the middle of the season saw us step up a gear and become the strongest side in the league.
Class is always recognised at Fratton Park but none more so than Paul Walsh. In a season which saw Corporal Guy achieve all sorts of goal scoring feats including breaking Pompey's all-time scoring record of 42 league goals (48 in all competitions) in a season, the Fratton Park faithful acknowledged Walshy's contribution of skill and craftsmanship and voted him, not Whittingham their man of the season
Unfortunately, despite the Walsh and Whittingham partnership Pompey narrowly missed out on promotion to the (old) First Division. Ironically, goal difference was the deciding factor as we lost out to West Ham by the narrowest of margins.
In what seems ludicrous now, Whittingham was sold in the summer following that season, but although Walshy had lost his strike partner he quickly formed another (although not quite as lethal) with cheeky Scouser John Durnin, and It was this partnership which produced arguably Walshy's best ever game for Pompey.
In January 1994 with Walsh in fantastic form and scoring both goals, the underdogs from Portsmouth shocked the Premiership Champions Manchester United by holding them to a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford and thus earning themselves the right to a Coca-Cola Cup fifth round replay at Fratton Park. Unfortunately Pompey could not complete the job and United won the replay by a goal to nil.
Sadly, that was one of Walshy's last games for Pompey (during this spell at least) as approx six weeks later and after 73 league appearances the then Manchester City Manager Brain Horton paid £750,000 for the striker's services. Typically, much to the distress of the Portsmouth fans who really couldn't understand the club selling him, Walshy scored on his debut and went on to score six more in the remaining ten games of the season helping City to avoid relegation.
Walshy continued his form and began his first full season at City by scoring twice in games against Scummers, Everton and one of his former club Spurs, but City failed to maintain their good start to the season and finished the campaign in 17th position.
Without question Paul Walsh had endeared himself to the City faithful, who appreciated his energetic & relentless displays just as much as the Pompey fans had, so it was not surprise that they too felt gutted, when new manager Alan Ball (of all people!) swapped Walsh plus some dosh for Portsmouth's Gerry Creaney.
Yes, Paul Walsh was back at Fratton Park and although Pompey were never quite able to re-capture the form they demonstrated during his first spell.
Walshy once again showed why he was (and always will be) considered one of the gods at Fratton Park.
Unfortunately, however he only managed 21 more league appearances before suffering a cruciate ligament injury to the knee (which brought his career to a sad and painful end) during a game against Leicester in February 1996
Since hanging up his boots, Paul has worked for TV and Radio, providing match analysis for ITV and Sky Sports (amongst others) and he is still regularly seen appearing on Soccer Saturday and Football First.
Walshy was (still is) a hero at Fratton Park and also at Maine Road, but it seemed that wherever he went he managed to get the crowd behind him and on their feet. One of his former clubs, Liverpool, commissioned a poll in the summer of 2006 entitled 'One Hundred Players Who Shook The Kop' 110,000 Reds worldwide voted for their favourite Liverpool crowd pleasers of all time. It was no surprise Walshy finished a more than respectable 71st
Written by Chix.
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