The seven-year-old who helped save Pompey

Special guest Alfie Blagden with the Pompey players prior to kick-off against Morecambe. Picture: Joe Pepler
Special guest Alfie Blagden with the Pompey players prior to kick-off against Morecambe. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Alfie Blagden ignored the lure of the Argos catalogue last Christmas.

The enchanting pages with its delights of bikes, skateboards and racing tracks have long been a seasonal hunting ground for the Buckland youngster.

A treasure trove in page form for Alfie to rummage around in when drawing up his prized wishlist for Santa Claus.

Except, on this occasion the catalogue remained untouched.

Just one item occupied the then seven-year-old’s piece of paper he handed over to his mum to pop in the post, destination Lapland.

It read in capital letters: Save Pompey.

Nothing else interested the Blues fanatic, his heart was set on the greatest gift of all – a future for his beloved football club.

The Charles Dickens Primary School student wanted to continue sitting in the Fratton end.

He longed to still be able to put Pompey posters on his bedroom wall and he still craved to wear his favourite strip.

But then mum, Kora, explained not even Santa – assisted by the collective-might of Rudolph and those ever-loyal elves – could possibly conjure up such a present.

The Lapland gang’s ageless powers ensure the dreams of children the world over are fulfilled every Christmas Day, yet this emotional request was one completely beyond them.

So, on Boxing Day, Alfie decided to do something about it himself.

Eager to help preserve Pompey and its proud 115-year history, he began to save up his pocket money.

Of the £5 he received each week from his parents, he opted to put every single penny towards the Pompey 12th Man campaign to buy Pompey Supporters’ Trust shares in the club.

No longer would there be trips to Poundland to get his share of bouncy balls, marbles and sweets. No more would he have the purchasing power for Hot Wheels cars and miniature skateboards.

Alfie had far more worthy causes for his money to contribute to and every week the pot grew fuller.

He even stopped spending his school playtime tuck shop money in preference for squirrelling it away into his moneybox.

To date, Alfie has raised £284, which has already bought two £100 part-shares in the 12th Man syndicate, with a third closing in fast.

In doing so, he is the youngest-ever contributor to that particular pool, which has so far raised more than £17,000 towards buying 17 shares in the Trust since its November launch.

And his mum continues to watch with pride at her son’s determination to help out the football club he adores.

She said: ‘All Alfie wanted for Christmas was for Pompey to be saved. It was the only thing on his list.

‘There was all this talk about liquidation and the club going out of existence and he was desperate for that not to happen.

‘He said he didn’t want to support them down the road, he loves Pompey so much.

‘I had to tell him that, as a gift, saving Pompey was too big even for Father Christmas to get and he accepted that.

‘So on Boxing Day he started saving in a pot.

‘I’m so proud. No-one pressurised him, it was all his own doing and totally off his own back. He’s so determined to help all he can.

‘Due to his age, he sees things outside the adult’s point of view.

‘He doesn’t pay any attention to all the politics and the arguments.

‘He wanted to keep Pompey alive and to do his best to make sure that happened – and we are all very proud of him.

‘Around £300 is nothing for some people but it is a hell of a lot for a seven-year-old.’

Alfie is now aged eight and, such has been the success of his fundraising, is eyeing saving enough to buy a full £1,000 share in the club.

In the meantime, his sacrifice has not gone unnoticed by siblings Chloe, Lisa and Luke, who have been donating some of their own pocket money every week to buy him the sweets his own generosity has deprived him.

Recognition has also come from the club, who invited Alfie and his family as guests for last weekend’s visit of Morecambe.

Before the game Guy Whittingham asked him into the players’ dressing room, where he posed for photos with his Pompey heroes, ahead of being given free rein to have his match-day programme signed.

The Blagden family spent the match in the directors’ box, inevitably unable to contain boisterous delight normally reserved for their trips to the Fratton end as the hosts ran out 3-0 winners.

Of course, the club continues to inhabit an environment where routed remnants still exist, griping and grumbling at the community-owed club concept they cannot agree with.

Such people have never and will never back the current ownership model in terms of moral support or finance.

But out there is a seven-year-old boy who wanted Pompey to be saved by the Trust – and did something about it.