Dave Tiller is relishing his chance to face his old side but told them: You should still be the biggest club in the area.
The Portsmouth & Southsea skipper leads his side into their home clash with neighbours and Southern Electric Premier League division three leaders Portsmouth at St James’ Park tomorrow.
But he still questions where it all went wrong for the former top-flight outfit who were once the powerhouses in the region.
Tiller, who spent 10 years at St Helens Field before returning to Portsmouth & Southsea, has seen his old club slip down the divisions.
And while he believes they are on the up again, he doubts they will ever take their place at the top table again.
Tiller said: ‘I had 10 years there, so this was the first fixture I was looking for – even though I left a long time ago.
‘It should be the biggest club in the area. When I was there, they always pushed to be the best they could be.
‘I played with some great people there. People like Jonny Ayling, Raj Maru, Lee Savident and guys like that.
‘My first year with them was the first time they won the Southern League.
‘Barry Boorah was skipper when I first joined and led me through but they had so many guys you looked up to. They were a huge influence on me.
‘But then maybe they had the wrong people in charge for a while.
‘Maybe they lost track of who they were and that they weren’t actually a professional club and tried to push things through a bit too quickly by doing it the wrong way. They went through a spell where they had a few Pakistani lads coming down from London to play but now they are bringing through more youngsters, which is great to see.’
Portsmouth have made a roaring start to the new campaign with four wins out of five, while Portsmouth & Southsea have only claimed one win so far.
But while Tiller’s side are looking to stay up after last year’s Hampshire League success, Portsmouth want promotion.
He said: ‘If they get promotion this year, the aim would be to get into the league above, I’m sure.
‘I don’t know if they will ever go all the way back to where they were.
‘But they have got good players and they have proven that with their position this year.
‘They need a few of the younger lads who are good players to help push them on and consolidate.
‘For us, it’s about getting enough points to stay up.’
Portsmouth skipper James Scott said: ‘I opened the bowling with Dave years ago, so it’s like playing old mates.
‘It’s all very friendly but both clubs want to win this game.
‘Things are going well for us and we want that to continue but I’m trying to be careful and we have to guard against complacency.
‘We’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep going about our jobs in the right way.
‘If we want to win the league, that’s what we’ve got to do all year.’