Memorial sees Pompey win football over again

Jed Wallace, Ricky Holmes and Nigel Atangana pose in the new Pompey kit. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Jed Wallace, Ricky Holmes and Nigel Atangana pose in the new Pompey kit. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

This was supposed to be a column about hopes and expectations for Pompey’s season.

No matter how bleak things have appeared at the start of a new campaign, this is traditionally a time for optimism.

Yes, there have been years when the realities of administration, a wafer-thin squad or players who aren’t up the task have been eschewed for enthusiasm.

This time, however, after witnessing the preparations of Andy Awford’s men at close quarters, there is enough to suggest there are grounds for hope. Cautious hope.

The eye isn’t blind to the defensive frailties evident in warm-up games but there are certainly reasons to be cheerful.

But even that brightness has paled in the face of the feeling generated by the conduct of our football club, and some dyed-in-the-wool Fratton folk, in recent days.

It actually took a period of reflection in the commemorative Lights Out hour of darkness on Monday night for it to register.

As the fallen of the First World War were remembered in two minutes’ silence, the period which followed allowed for digesting Pompey’s role in marking the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War.

Then it truly hit home.

On television, national reports spoke of the memorial at the end of Frogmore Road to the 14th and 15th regiments of the Hampshire battalion – or Pompey Pals.

Similarly, radio updates were driven by those events and Pompey unveiling their own unique tribute in the shape of their kit for the new season.

Embedding the names of 1,400 fallen Pompey Pal members who lost their lives in the conflict was making a monumental impact.

The remembrance of the Pompey Pals is not a new idea but one which well-known Blues fan Bob Beech has been doggedly pursuing for a lengthy period.

It’s perhaps easily forgotten in the events of this week but Beech’s labour of love has, at times, fought to stay afloat amid the vast swathe of different and worthy causes on the Fratton hit-list.

Beech, as those who know him, though, is a pretty tenacious fellow and wasn’t about to give up on the project. Each and every Pompey fan should be thankful that is the case.

The breadth and depth of the outpouring of respect towards the football club in the wake of the unveiling has been a phenomenon.

Type Pompey into a Twitter search and you will be hit with thousands of messages acknowledging the class of their behaviour.

Fans of Charlton, Liverpool, Dundee, Bournemouth and Millwall were all clamouring to give their praise.

But it was the reverence afforded from along the M27 which really made you take a step back.

This wasn’t isolated appreciation from Pompey’s fiercest rivals but a concerted ovation.

It was only then the gravity of the moment resonated: The football world was full of warm regard for Portsmouth Football Club.

How many times in recent years have we truly been able to say that’s the case?

Yes, there has been the sympathetic glances from other clubs’ fans and recognition of Pompey’s unique nature.

This was different, however, and the manner of the response makes this the most significant milestone since April 10, 2013 – that day in the High Court in London when the club’s existence was secured.

Iain McInnes this week called the commemorations his proudest moment as the club’s chairman. You could see why.

Pompey are on the national news agenda for the right reasons. They are winning football over.