Pompey have been through thick and thin and endured tough times in recent seasons. But one thing remains the same – and that’s The Shepherd’s Crook’s unwavering commitment to the football club.
The pub, situated near Pompey’s Fratton Park home, has three shares in the club and enjoys welcoming scores of fans on matchdays.
There’s club memorabilia on the walls that act as a reminder of the Blues’ glory days.
And on April 26, a group of regulars will join fans as they cycle to Bury for Pompey’s final away game of the League Two season.
The daring team of 21 riders will be taking up the 300-mile challenge in an effort to raise cash for the club and the family of four-year-old Jack Robinson, who died in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
The young boy, from Bere Road, Denmead, had bravely battled against an inoperable brain tumour for the past three months.
Manager of The Shepherd’s Crook, Sam Whitmore, 22, is a lifelong Pompey fan and has run the pub on behalf of leaseholder Steve Hudson for around 10 months.
Sam said that the pub likes to get behind worthy local causes as well as the football team.
‘We are massively behind the club, 100 per cent,’ said Sam.
‘Whenever there’s anything to do with Pompey, this pub is always there wanting to help them out. It’s good to help the community and give something back.
‘We do all we can to help others and we feel the community and the club supports us back. It brings everyone together.’
Over the Easter bank holiday weekend, from Friday, April 18, to Monday, April 21, the pub is holding a family fun event to raise funds for the cycle ride.
A bouncy castle will be put out on the Saturday and there will be children’s games and movies, live music and a barbecue, with food being supplied by Bransbury Park Butchers, in Eastney Road, Portsmouth.
Free soft drinks will also be on offer for youngsters.
Steve has held the lease of the pub, which is owned by Punch Taverns, for the past two and a half years.
He said: ‘We get a very significant group of fans on most matchdays. We tend to get very much the same people who sit in the same place, and now they are bringing their kids in, too.
‘A lot of people have been coming here for years.
‘I am amazed by the continued support for Pompey. Our business is keeping up with the days of when the club was in the Premiership.’
HARD-WORKING manager Sam Whitmore knows a thing or two about dealing with customers.
He previously managed events and ran the bars at The Pyramids Centre, in Southsea.
Sam started there when he was 18 and worked his way up the ladder during his two-year stay.
The 22-year-old, who lives in Waterlooville with his family, then decided to try something new and got in touch with Steve Hudson to see if he had any opportunities.
‘When I started doing bar work I wasn’t really sure whether it would be a long-term thing,’ said Sam.
‘I was just 18 and it was my first bar job.
‘But after doing it for a while, I realised I enjoyed it quite a lot and thought I was quite good at it.
‘I liked chatting to people and coming up with events, so I thought maybe I could make a nice career managing a pub.
‘The hours are long, but that’s part of the job, and it’s very rewarding.’
Though many pubs are struggling and finding it difficult to make ends meet, Sam said things are different at The Shepherd’s Crook – thanks to the support of the community and Pompey.
Sam, who grew up in North End, said: ‘We get a lot of new people coming in all the time.
‘We are doing really well because of the support of the club and the locals.’
Supervisor Danni Hill, 21, who has worked at the pub for two years, said: ‘The job is fun and enjoyable.
‘It’s like having a second family.
‘It’s not a chore coming to work.
‘The customers are so friendly and funny.’