The Pompey general who lead from the front

Tony Goodall discussing the future of Pompey at a Radio 5 live broadcast from Moneyfields Sports and Social Club
Tony Goodall discussing the future of Pompey at a Radio 5 live broadcast from Moneyfields Sports and Social Club
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The other day I thought about ringing Tony Goodall. Then I remembered there would be no answer.

It was an instinctive reaction, honed through many conversations over the years with a truly good man.

Somebody whose Pompey insight and knowledge was invaluable. Somebody whose views and humour I always appreciated and respected.

Somebody who passed away at the tragically early age of 49 a week today.

Yet I was bursting to tell him how David Lampitt was repeatedly trying to get in touch with me.

Nothing groundbreaking in such news, I can appreciate, yet that would have made Tony smile. He would have understood the irony entirely.

During his time at Pompey, Lampitt was exasperating to deal with.

The former chief executive was frustratingly elusive, bordering on disrespectful – yet was publicly perceived as a highly-accessible man of the people.

Since September, I have spoken to Lampitt twice, something Tony was only too aware of.

He would also have had plenty to say about such antics.

You see, Tony had no time for the Fratton Park hierarchy who have overseen the club’s demise over the past few years.

He wasn’t interested in politics, he had no inclination to strive for a cosy relationship with these people in exchange for information to impress his friends.

Tony always wanted what was best for the fans of Portsmouth Football Club, not personal gain.

This resident of Old Portsmouth – and how he loved residing in that part of the Pompey world – was not merely content to point out the wrongs and errors of people’s ways in his own inimitable manner.

Anyone can snipe and find fault, especially when the target looms as large as Pompey in the gun sights.

Tony was actually prepared to sacrifice his time and lead from the front in the battle for a brighter future.

A founder member of Pompey Supporters’ Trust, the spokesman of Pompey Independent Supporters’ Association, the chairman of the fans’ conference and a co-host of Portsmouth Live TV’s Pompey coverage, his devotion could never be questioned.

In addition, as @PompeySwiss, he was a prolific tweeter always ready for a debate, and was also known for penning the occasional blog, inevitably hard-hitting in its content.

Yet his motivation was never driven by the need for recognition or celebrity.

Tony Goodall merely craved for fans to be listened to by those dictating the football club – a basic right which too often in recent times has been denied.

They were concrete morals illustrated perfectly back in September last year when I agreed to a maiden appearance on Tony and Barry Dewing’s Fan Zone show on Portsmouth Live TV.

The duo had come up with the concept themselves, eager for a regular programme discussing fan issues.

The big topic at the time was high ticket pricing and the subsequent plummet in attendances.

Beforehand I met Tony and Barry in The John Jacques pub, where they greeted me with a glass of Pepsi and a dossier containing seat costs for every Championship club.

The intention was to utilise this information for a debate live on air.

Except, when we turned up the producer informed us there would be no such discussion as it would upset the club.

In fact, the club had even contacted Live TV requesting the issue be given a wide berth.

Naturally, we mentioned it anyway.

Sadly, I wasn’t asked back on the show again after that.

As for Tony and Barry, shortly afterwards they quit their very own show in disgust.

That was Tony, a man of immense principles who was not going to be dictated to or silenced by the football club.

He saw it as his responsibility to speak for the fans, the Fan Zone was designed to provide that platform.

When his voice was attempted to be taken away, he no longer wanted a part of it.

Similarly, he led the criticism when Vladimir Antonov and Roman Dubov elected to charge fans to see their first-ever interview.

Portsmouth Live TV, in conjunction with the club, wanted supporters to take out a month’s subscription for the privilege.

Some three months into their ownership, the duo, who were apparently ‘publicity shy’, were speaking – for £5 each.

Tony, in his PISA guise, saw it as an ill-advised scheme designed to make money rather than benefit the fans.

He told the club as much, too.

But let’s also not forget his crucial involvement in so many Pompey fans’ groups which exist to this day.

Back in the mid-1990s he was involved in the launch of PISA, alongside partner-in-crime Barry Dewing.

There is also the prominent role he played in the Trust’s formation and development.

Tony was one of the original four signatories, penning the legal document which gave birth to the concept.

He later was co-opted as a board member following the decision of several people to step down – an action which allowed the group to stabilise and subsequently emerge even stronger.

And when the fans’ conference recently required a chairman, Tony stepped forward to take over, overseeing the meeting attended by Trevor Birch on the day of the visit of Middlesbrough.

On the night he sustained his fateful stroke, Tony had earlier held a conversation with Ashley Brown, chairman of the Trust.

He discussed strategies the Trust may consider implementing in the continued fight to keep a football club in the city of Portsmouth.

As ever, his immense passion shone through during a phone dialogue which lasted 40 minutes.

Later that evening he was active on Twitter, defending me after somebody on The News’ message board demanded I was ‘fired’.

It was in response to various people taking exception to a match report in which I stated there would be fans refusing to attend Fratton Park if Balram Chainrai returned.

Tony certainly had no time for the man who has twice put the club into administration.

He was rushed to hospital within half an hour of what proved to be his final tweet.

The account remains untouched since that moment.

Its description still reads ‘Gentleman from Old Portsmouth. Love my City, Love my Football Club!’.

Tony Goodall in a nutshell by the man himself.

And the city and football club is truly a poorer place without him.

Goodbye, my friend.

FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS

The funeral of Tony Goodall will take place on Thursday, March 29, at Portchester Crematorium, at 1.30pm.

That will be followed by a wake at the Hilton Hotel, Farlington.