Pompey setback will hit us financially - but we'll get over it
Bognor have admitted the loss of this week’s prestigious Pompey friendly is a big financial blow – but insisted: We’ll get over it.
A crowd of around 1,000 would have been expected had a mixture of first-team and young Pompey players arrived at Nyewood Lane yesterday evening for the planned fixture.
But last weekend, Pompey told the Rocks they would have to scrap the game as they’d had a positive Covid case in the youth camp and others were having to isolate.
The Fratton Park club have said they will try to visit Bognor another time, but whether that will be possible in a busy season remains to be seen.
Bognor manager Jack Pearce said the Pompey friendly – held every summer from 2013 to 2019 but cancelled last year because of the pandemic – was one of the club’s biggest money-earners of the year.
Pearce said: “It’s a blow but if you get a Covid outbreak at a club there’s not a lot you can do.
“They told us as soon as they realised there was a problem and we accept the difficult position they are in.
“It’s not great for us from a financial viewpoint. We’d have had a big crowd and it would have given the budget a nice boost. But like everything, we’ll get over it, move on with our plans and make the best of what we have.”
Pompey said they regretted the postponement.
They said in a statement: “The Pompey team was due to contain a mixture of young professionals and members of the U18 academy side, as well as a small number of first team players not involved in a behind closed doors friendly the previous evening.
“However, a positive Covid-19 test means that the entire U18 team are currently having to self-isolate.
“We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause and will work with Bognor to find a mutually convenient date later in the season for the fixture to be played.”
Away from that disappointment, the Rocks’ build-up to the Isthmian premier season – which starts a fortnight on Saturday – continues to gather pace.
They followed their 3-2 friendly win at Havant with a 3-1 success at Horndean last Saturday. Jason Parish scored twice and trialist Nathan Odokonyero got the other.
Odokonyero was one of a number of potential new faces to catch the eye as the Rocks look to finalise their squad with additions in midfield and up front.
They have been boosted by the signing of Ethan Robb, the ex-Pompey academy midfielder-turned-defender who starred at Nyewood Lane last season before going on loan to Brentford’s under-23 set-up.
Pearce said: “We’re delighted Ethan has signed for us again. He showed last season what an asset he is and it’s pleasing he has chosen to return to us.”
Robb joins the likes of Amadou Tangara, James Crane, Harvey Whyte, Joe Cook, Craig Robson, Joe Hancott and Jordy Mongoy in signing a contract, while others have been recruited on non-contract terms.
It’s thought to be the highest number of players the club have ever had on contracts, and that will protect them if any of those players move on during the season.
Bognor welcome Dorking Wanderers to Nyewood Lane for their next friendly on Sunday (3pm) with former Rocks including Jason Prior, Kane Wills and Alfie Rutherford potentially in the visiting line-up.
Before then, on Saturday night, the Rocks’ Seasons clubhouse is the venue for an evening to thank fans for their support during the pandemic. Admission is free but fans interested in attending should contact Dave Robinson or Laura Denby through the club’s Facebook page.