At last - Pompey are back home

Guy Whittingham taking a training session at Fratton Park earlier this season
Guy Whittingham taking a training session at Fratton Park earlier this season

It’s official: Pompey are back home.

The Blues have finally returned to the confines of Portsmouth island after 11 years training outside of the city.

There was a two-week period as nomads after departing from Eastleigh.

And then came an aborted effort to train at their new home at Eastney Barracks as the effects of the recent wet weather struck.

But caretaker boss Guy Whittingham’s side trained at their new base, now known as the Cockleshell Community Sports Club, for the first time last Friday.

It will be a case of mucking in with the local community who have made it possible for the remainder of the season.

But Whittingham is thankful – particularly to the Cockleshell Community Sports Club charity who have been so accommodating – and believes it will be a link-up which benefits all concerned.

He said: ‘We needed somewhere to train, put the idea to them (Cockleshell Community Sports Club) and they’ve worked diligently with (administrators) PKF to make sure everything is legally done.

‘That was one of the hold ups – but it’s done now.

‘It just shows the spirit the city has. It’s probably the fans rubbing off on the community.

‘We are just using two pitches, that’s all it is. But it’s not going to get any frost because it is a stone’s throw from the sea, so that is one advantage.

‘Obviously, there is the wind and the rain but the wind is a good thing when it’s like it is at the moment.

‘The weather will dry out the pitch quickly for us and the groundsman is working on there as well. Hopefully it will benefit us all.

‘There’s a school that uses it and also Meon Milton at weekends and what we didn’t want to do was wreck the place for them.

‘It’s important the kids play football, but our groundsman is going to work and make sure the pitches are good for us.

‘We are hoping the work our groundsman does will enhance the pitches for the players at the weekend.

‘We are really confident they will be playing their games every weekend without being called off – and on a good surface.’

The Academy will also base themselves at Eastney, with plans to use St John’s College Playing Fields in Farlington on hold, as the recent wet weather also takes hold there.

HMS Collingwood and Portsmouth University were also considered, but were ruled out for the time being.

Whittingham explained the long-term base for the club is still being considered.

‘The Academy train as we do and will until the end of the season. We have two pitches – them on one and us the other,’ said Whittingham.

‘When we were looking for the training ground there were some short-term options and longer-term options and we are still exploring them.

‘We were told HMS Collingwood couldn’t accommodate us.

‘The staffing levels and the amount of places used meant they said they couldn’t fit us in.

‘The University wasn’t possible. They did come back and offer to help out but there was so much to get over that it would take a lot more time, with all sorts of little problems.

‘We just felt we need to go somewhere, let’s get it done, let’s go to Eastney Barracks, they seem the best for us, they are working for us and we were halfway in discussion with Cockleshell Community Sports Club charity already.’