No Payne no gain for Pompey Hall of Fame

Last year's inductees, from left, Andy Awford, Len Phillips jnr (son of Pompey winger Len Phillips), David Reid ( son of Duggie Reid), Mick Tait and John Milkins

Last year's inductees, from left, Andy Awford, Len Phillips jnr (son of Pompey winger Len Phillips), David Reid ( son of Duggie Reid), Mick Tait and John Milkins

Pompey's promotion pitch invasion

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Jake Payne has still got the e-mail.

In no uncertain terms, it threatened the scrapping of the Pompey Hall of Fame.

That is unless he could raise £7,000 in sales by the following Monday to justify Pompey being involved.

Immense pressure on a volunteer whose sole motivation was to introduce a regular event designed to celebrate Pompey’s history.

That was in 2009 during the build-up to the inaugural occasion.

It was an attitude from the football club which almost forced the concept to be dumped straight away.

Today, the Pompey Hall of Fame attracts a sell-out 250 people and honours some wonderful ex-players.

A week today, it will mark its third birthday with a record attendance.

Linvoy Primus, Alan McLoughlin, Jack Froggatt, Johnny Gordon, Paul Walsh and Albie McCann are to be the latest inductees.

In addition, former manager Jack Tinn will be given an honorary inclusion.

As ever, those present will be treated to a wonderful evening oozing nostalgia.

It’s the chance for fans and ex-players alike to spend an evening in each others’ company, reminiscing about old times.

Back in its infancy, though, the Hall of Fame was viewed by some as nothing more than a get-rich scheme.

Thankfully, not Payne.

That aforementioned e-mail was from a Fratton Park member of staff who is no longer there.

To them, the inaugural Hall of Fame evening was nothing more than a private function.

More to the point, it represented a prized opportunity to make money.

That person – and no doubt others at the club at that time – seemed to have overlooked the fact the occasion was actually about football.

It was centred on honouring some of the greatest players in Pompey’s history.

Just as crucially, it was an evening for the fans at prices they could afford.

Other clubs had successfully introduced such events up and down the country, much to the delight of their supporters.

That included Ipswich, who had inducted a certain Ray Crawford in their version.

It was he who mentioned the occasion to Payne, who helped write his recent autobiography.

With Pompey’s rich history, it made sense to do the same in these parts.

So Payne – backed by Crawford – set about putting the wheels in motion with one eye on March 2009.

His vision was for an affordable evening for fans and ex-players alike to meet and chat.

Only months earlier, Pompey were charging supporters £115 plus VAT to attend the 2007-08 end-of- season awards.

He wanted something different.

It seems incredible to think at that time Payne was met with a flood of apathy from the football club.

If that wasn’t bad enough, he was told to sell all the tickets and fill all the tables himself.

He had to carry out the publicity, book the trophies and instigate all the organisation himself.

This from somebody not employed by Pompey – hence the lovely e-mail which winged its way across cyberspace to land in his inbox and has remained there ever since.

For Payne, it is a little reminder of what he has had to conquer to get this far.

His determination – and the decision of commercial director Lucius Peart to get involved – ultimately kept that dream alive.

Payne credits Peart as being the crucial ally at Pompey who eventually ensured the Hall of Fame got off the ground.

It was his insistence the event was a club one and not a private function which changed attitudes among Pompey.

Suddenly, no more ransom demands, no more opposition, no more e-mails.

Thankfully, to this day, Peart retains a key interest as the Hall of Fame goes from strength to strength.

In addition, David Lampitt will be in attendance on Saturday and is to present an award to the family of Froggatt.

Pompey’s chief executive will be one of almost 250 people in attendance – a record turn out for the event.

That will consist of 24 tables constructed in the Victory Suite at Fratton Park.

Among others present will be Primus, McLoughlin, Walsh, McCann and their families.

Their willingness to attend clearly demonstrates what the honour means to the players themselves.

Also, the families of the late Gordon and Froggatt will be there to collect their respective awards.

Many Pompey heroes already inducted will be there, too, including Andy Awford, Ray Hiron and John Milkins.

Meanwhile, 89-year-old Jimmy Stephen is another set to attend – the oldest living former Pompey player.

The chance to mix with such luminaries is one too precious to miss for many Blues followers.

No wonder the Hall of Fame evening is rapidly establishing itself as one of the highlights in the Pompey calendar.

And for those too young to have witnessed such star turns on the football pitch, Rob Haines has put together more footage to educate.

There is something humbling watching the likes of Jimmy Dickinson and Duggie Reid in black-and-white action on a big screen in front of a different generation.

As it stands, the latest batch of players will take the tally to 11 inductees into the Hall of Fame.

In addition, Tinn has joined them as manager.

There are plenty more to come as Pompey seek to honour their stars from yesteryear.

For a club blessed with such a magnificent history, there are certainly bagfuls of others who can follow.

This year’s occasion was sold out within two weeks. But fear not – there is always next year.

Or what about the year after that and the year after that?

The Hall of Fame is here to stay – and don’t the fans love it.

Not bad for an event which was conceived by a volunteer whose concept was met with nothing but apathy from Portsmouth Football Club.

Thankfully, those days have now gone. The club seem to want to work with the fans.

And, for that, we should all be grateful for Payne and his Hall of Fame.

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