Aaron continues Flahavan dynasty at Pompey

Eleven-year-old Aaron Flahavan signs on the dotted line for Pompey in the company of the Blues head of education and welfare, Jon Slater
Eleven-year-old Aaron Flahavan signs on the dotted line for Pompey in the company of the Blues head of education and welfare, Jon Slater
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He never met his uncle, but dad has handed down the memories.

Like him, his late relative was a goalkeeper, a prodigious talent on the books of Pompey, similarly snapped up at the age of 11.

They also share a name – Aaron Flahavan.

It has been 15 years since the eldest member of the Flahavan goalkeeping dynasty passed away following a late-night car crash.

The Blues lost the bearer of the number one shirt, a unanimously popular figure and their longest-serving footballer, amassing 105 first-team appearances.

Darryl Flahavan was bereaved of his older brother, best friend and a player he aspired to emulate by reaching Football League standards.

He succeeded emphatically, of course. Goalkeeping is in the bloodstream, resulting in tenancy between the posts at Southend, Crystal Palace, Oldham, Bournemouth and Crawley.

There was also an emotional season at Pompey, serving as back-up to the ever-present Jamie Ashdown under Steve Cotterill in 2010-11.

Now another member of the Flahavan family has joined the Fratton ranks after Darryl’s son, also called Aaron, last week signed youth terms.

The highly-regarded youngster will represent Pompey’s under-12s following a summer release from Southampton.

And for Darryl, it represents a poignant moment for a family who still treasure the memory of uncle Aaron.

He said: ‘We are obviously all delighted to have another Aaron Flahavan at the club.

‘My son was born in 2004, Aaron passed away in 2001, so they never met each other. When I knew my wife was pregnant and we discovered it was a boy it was a no-brainer.

‘Picking his name was an easy task and so far he is doing his uncle proud.

‘A few weeks ago it was the 15th anniversary of Aaron’s death so my son signing for Portsmouth was all very ironic, it’s a bit like destiny written in the stars.

‘My brother was on Portsmouth’s books from the age of 11, the same age as my son is now, so it is all very coincidental at the moment.

‘Watching Aaron sign for the club on that Friday morning was an emotional day for the family with everything that has gone on in the past.

‘My brother loved playing for the club, he spent 14 years there, it meant a lot to him.

‘Portsmouth is the right environment for my son and a place I believe he can progress. But we don’t want to put too much on him at the moment, he is only 11. I just want him to enjoy it and develop.

‘At the minute I don’t believe the family name will put any pressure on him, although if he is lucky and works hard enough to develop at the club I am sure it will come up.

‘But he has good people around him at Fratton Park and, along with myself, we can help him handle that pressure if he gets that far.

‘Portsmouth is a great club – and for my son Aaron to go where my brother played is the icing on the top.’

Former Blues keeper Aaron died in August 2001, having lost control of his car along the A338 in Bournemouth.

The 25-year-old was found over the drink-drive limit, with a verdict of accidental death recorded.

Hours earlier, a slight groin injury had confined him to the Fratton Park stands as Graham Rix’s side defeated Leicester City 2-1 in a friendly.

Such was the immense affection held for Aaron, a memorial was assembled in the Fratton end goalmouth, with then-Southampton striker Kevin Davies among the many delivering their respects.

Pompey’s number one jersey was also retired for the season.

Now the nephew he never met is wearing that famous star and crescent.

‘You could say it’s a little conveyor belt coming out of our household,’ added Darryl.

‘It was unusual my brother and I became goalkeepers and both played as professionals at a high level. My son has watched me over my career and then also caught the bug.

‘From about five he dabbled outfield a couple of times but soon said “dad, I want to be a goalkeeper”.

‘I’ve always had a bit of equipment in my car, such as balls, hurdles and marker discs, and we would regularly go to a field or a park and do 1-2 hours of training.

‘Aaron had that installed into him from an early age and even last Sunday, after playing a game, wanted to train with me. That’s his thirst.

‘He has a great hand-eye coordination and terrific ability, so it’s something he took on quite naturally.

‘Since the age of seven he was on the books of Southampton, but didn’t fit the DNA criteria of a goalkeeper they are looking for.

‘They want a certain size to a keeper and have a height prediction process they believe is very accurate.

‘Unfortunately, Aaron’s predicted height doesn’t hit 6ft 4in so they thought it best to move him on – and good luck to them.

‘So he was given a trial at Portsmouth and has now become the third Flahavan to sign for the club.

‘Pompey have a fantastic youth set-up, you can see that when you speak to people there, and the coaching provided is first-class.’

Darryl trained with Pompey on occasions last season to maintain his fitness, before unluckily damaging an ankle at the time of their play-off keeping crisis.

Following 474 career appearances, this summer he joined Leeds United as first-team goalkeeping coach.

And are there any other Flahavans next in the queue for Fratton Park?

He added: ‘My daughter, Ava, is very supportive of her brother and tries to get involved sometimes, but my wife would have a fit if she started football.

‘She is more into gymnastics and horse riding!’

Pompey Ladies are watching.