So what became of the January Pompey bomb squad from yesteryear?

Darel Russell. Picture: Allan Hutchings (1330-889)

Darel Russell. Picture: Allan Hutchings (1330-889)

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They dodged the deepening puddles while maintaining the equilibrium of the black bin liners perched over their shoulders.

The goodbyes at under-water Fratton Park had already been said – now off into the big, wide world for new adventures.

It was a year ago tomorrow when many of them departed Pompey, casualties of cost cutting by the administrators.

For some, the game against Notts County was meant to be a swansong, the likes of Jon Harley, Mustapha Dumbuya and Paul Benson seeking a last hurrah.

Going out with a bang was the stock phrase, except it was a damp squib as the weather dictated the match be scrapped barely an hour before kick-off.

Bidding their farewells, the trio were among 10 players who exited Pompey during that January transfer window.

It started with Izale McLeod marching away with 16 days still remaining on his contract at the turn of the year.

A booking against Yeovil for dissent – his third in four matches – ensured he was banned for the New Year’s Day trip to Swindon anyway.

Next came the financial cut-backs with Brian Howard, Lee Williamson, Dumbuya and Harley informed there would not be another monthly deal.

In the ensuing days, Scott Allan’s loan was not renewed, Benson was recalled and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing’s deal was cancelled early.

Then there was Lubomir Michalik turning down the offer of a new monthly contract at Fratton in favour of joining Kairat Almaty.

He went on to feature 26 times for the Kazakh Premier League side as they finished third in the table at the season’s November finish.

Finally, Darel Russell gave a memorable speech to The News after a 3-1 home defeat to Hartlepool about winning trophies elsewhere – the next day he quit his contract with a day to spare.

What emerged was a deal with Toronto in Major League Soccer for the remainder of the season after a successful two-week trial.

Under head coach Ryan Nelsen, the midfielder scored three goals in 18 appearances but they finished ninth out of 10 in the Eastern Conference and he was not retained.

Now aged 33, Russell is currently working for BBC Radio Norfolk on their Norwich City coverage.

Not a happy subsequent year for him then – and certainly mixed fortunes for that band of 10.

Take Harley, whose next club was Maidstone having contacted manager Jay Saunders on Twitter initially about training.

The veteran made his debut against Chipstead in Ryman League division one south and turned out on a number of occasions until the campaign 
ended.

He has not been on The Stones’ books this season, although is believed to be continuing with his job coaching Chelsea’s academy.

McLeod ended 2013 with a thigh injury which cut short a loan spell at Northampton which yielded four games and one goal.

The switch had been designed to reinvigorate a career which had stagnated since leaving Pompey for MK Dons on the back of 11 goals in 27 games for a struggling side.

The year would subsequently see him net five goals in 34 matches for the Dons – of which just 10 were starts.

On the flip side, Williamson was snapped up by Blackburn by former Fratton boss Michael Appleton and started their 1-0 win at Arsenal in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

He earned a contract extension in the summer and the most recent of his 16 appearances this term was against Manchester City in last weekend’s 1-1 draw.

Dumbuya linked up with Richie Barker’s Crawley, establishing himself as a regular with 15 appearances.

Barker sought to tie him to a longer deal in the summer but instead he signed for Notts County for two years, making 18 appearances to date.

Paolo di Canio, then manager at Swindon, called Benson back and dispatched him for a loan spell at Cheltenham which reaped four goals in 17 matches.

This summer he joined Luton on a season-long loan, so far registering 11 goals in 21 games for the Skrill Premier leaders.

Fellow loanee Allan returned to West Brom and didn’t play again until taken on by Birmingham on a season-long loan in the summer.

It started promisingly for the Scot, with two goals in his first five appearances. But he has now not made an appearance since August.

Recently both the player and Birmingham attempted to cancel the loan early – only for parent club West Brom to refuse.

A hernia injury kept Howard out of the Pompey frame just before his release, although he did continue to train following an operation.

In mid-February he joined Bristol City until the end of the season but played just 39 first-team minutes – the sum of six substitute appearances.

Surprisingly he was given a 12-month deal by CSKA Sofia in August and is now managed by Bulgarian legend Hristo Stoichkov and has made 11 appearances.

Finally, Mendez-Laing returned to Peterborough, making 17 appearances and scoring two goals in the rest of the campaign.

This season he has played 20 times, 17 of which have come off the bench.

The fates of those shown the door by Pompey this January remains to be seen but history shows few from this point rally their careers.

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