Hall of Fame shows why club will survive

Mick Quinn, left, is welcomed into the Hall of Fame by former Pompey team-mate Alan Knight   Picture: Rob Haines
Mick Quinn, left, is welcomed into the Hall of Fame by former Pompey team-mate Alan Knight Picture: Rob Haines
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The reason this proud club of ours will survive could be seen in a single room on Saturday night.

The Pompey Hall of Fame returned to laud the greats who have worn the star and crescent on their chest in such distinguished fashion.

Six more heroes were inducted on the fifth edition of a night which never fails to stir the emotions.

Jimmy Scoular, Ron Saunders, Eoin Hand, Kit Symons, John Weddle and Mick Quinn were the latest names to join the pantheon of Fratton greats.

But it’s really about more than that.

The Hall of Fame has become a celebration of all that is good about Portsmouth Football Club.

And it does it in a manner which is uniquely Pompey.

Hall of Fame committee chairman Jake Payne and his team have battled the corporate and marketing monsters to keep the event in touch with the people who love the club.

They have refused to bow to the demands they have faced in the Hall of Fame’s’ history, which would have taken it away from the city’s working-class demographic.

Overheads are kept down, ticket prices are kept to a reasonable level and the temptation to cram in guests, despite the demand, is avoided.

As a result, it works on a Pompey level.

Abraham Lincoln spoke of government ‘by the people and for the people,’ in his Gettysburg address. He could have been at the Marriott on Saturday night. Or maybe that was Barry Harris...

Everywhere you turned at the Hall of Fame, the people who make up the fabric of Pompey were there.

There was fans’ liaison officer Johnny Moore, at the bar of course, chatting with hall of famer Paul Walsh.

Then there was club stalwart John Jenkins MBE and Ray Crawford accepting awards for John Weddle and Ron Saunders, both with anecdotes that raised the smiles and laughs.

Elsewhere, blogger extraordinaire Micah Hall, who has done so much to highlight the wrongs of recent years at PO4, regressed to the starry-eyed teenager on the terraces he once was as he remembered Alan Biley leading defences a merry dance.

Alongside him were people fighting with their hearts and wallets for the club’s future, as prospective Blues chairman Iain McInnes and Trust chairman Ashley Brown lauded the people they grew up watching.

Paul Weld, Elaine Giles, Dave Ellis, Pat Neil, Lyn Powell, Peter Higgins. The list could go on and on. Proper Fratton folk.

The fact the night, for the first time in the Hall of Fame’s history, had Pompey’s management team present was telling.

Andy Awford, Alan Knight, Guy Whittingham and Alan McLoughlin. All present. All Hall of famers.

Their attendance spoke of their desire to take the club back to some old-school Pompey values.

It was a thread Awford picked up on when he took to the stage.

Awford, a disciple of Alan Ball, belonged to a time when the players and the people were in close proximity.

Ball preached the importance of players living close to Portsea Island, so they could live and breathe the football club.

It taps into a blueprint which will be the way forward for this club.

And it’s one which was movingly immortalised by Eoin Hand, as he delivered a poignant rendition of a song penned in tribute to the club he made 307 appearances for.

‘As the city’s evening bells ring out across the Solent swells,’ sung Hand.

‘The ghosts still weave their haunting spells, as evening’s shadows fall.

‘They say their task is left undone, that there are battles to be won, by you and me and everyone. Who will answer Pompey’s call?’

It was a rhetorical question from Hand, of course. Because he knew the answer lay before him – in a room full of folk who will not let Pompey die.