Disposed of dozen showing there’s life after Pompey

Former Pompey striker Craig Westcarr has joined National League side Southport until April 30
Former Pompey striker Craig Westcarr has joined National League side Southport until April 30
Pompey new boy Dion Donohue Picture: Colin Farmery

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It was the user parading under the title Treadmill2 who was the first to register his opinion on the shock development.

‘What a climb down, let’s hope for better days for him,’ he wrote on the Mansfield Chad website.

Another character, called Back four, soon followed.

‘Thought he was going to prove to be an asset, but then again you need the games. Given the games he could score at that level.’

Following four goals in 27 appearances, footballing nomad Craig Westcarr was again on the move. This time to Southport.

He had arrived at Field Mill in June 2015, following the mutual agreement to cancel his Pompey contract 12 months ahead of its intended run.

The striker had failed to shine in his sole Fratton Park campaign, unable to reproduce the form which saw him net 17 times for Walsall the previous term.

Andy Awford had banked on Westcarr providing the goals for his new-look team. He would register seven in 37 outings.

Now the 31-year-old is turning out for a side placed 17th in the Vanarama National League in a loan spell running until April 30.

‘Craig has not featured in our recent plans. Craig wants to be playing regular football and has gone to Southport to get further game time under his belt,’ explained Mansfield boss Adam Murray.

Westcarr is certainly not alone in taking such a path.

Of Pompey’s 2014-15 squad, 12 are presently plying their trade in non-league football.

That doesn’t even include loanees Jack Whatmough (Hawks) and Adam May (Gosport), who emphatically continue have a bright Fratton future.

Still, that disposed of dozen registered 169 appearances and scored 17 goals between them in a campaign which would yield the lowest finish in the club’s Football League history.

Yet these days the National League houses Ben Chorley, Joe Devera, Dan Butler, Danny East, Tom Craddock, Michael Poke and Matt Tubbs.

The likes of Bradley Tarbuck, Matt Fish and Jack Maloney are a little further down the football pyramid.

All possess the fitness and inclination to continue their playing careers following a Fratton Park exit, certainly nothing to ridicule.

The necessity of earning an income ensures many players are forced to accept dropping out of the Football League.

Careers and talent exists – and many flourish – in such surroundings outside of the leading four divisions.

Yet some may judge their fate as an accurate reflection of the standard of last season’s Blues squad.

Former Pompey skipper Chorley has been at Bromley since August, helping the club from Greater London to 11th spot during a first-ever campaign in the Conference.

Now aged 33, the former Arsenal apprentice has made 27 appearances for the club promoted from Conference South last term.

Elsewhere, the versatile East has made 21 appearances for third-placed Grimsby Town, who appear destined for the National League play-offs.

The 24-year-old appeared as a substitute against Southport on Tuesday night, ending up on the same pitch as ex-team-mate Westcarr.

Eastleigh boast both Tubbs and Poke, although their play-off push has faltered since the turn of the year, winning twice.

Tubbs has yet to score in five appearances following last month’s 93-day loan arrival, while goalkeeper Poke has featured three times since joining permanently in January.

Neither played in the Spitfires’ 2-1 win over Woking on Tuesday night.

Craddock is currently sidelined with a leg fracture at Guiseley AFC.

The striker suffered a torrid time with injuries at Fratton Park, yet spent the initial part of pre-season with Paul Cook’s squad before opting for a Cambridge United trial.

After joining Guiseley in July, he has managed three goals in 28 matches, 13 arriving from the bench.

Former Fratton team-mates Butler and Devera are currently locking horns in a relegation battle.

Butler has made 33 appearances and scored twice for Torquay, who are third from bottom despite a notable recent upturn in form.

By all accounts, the 21-year-old has impressed with the Gulls, although utilised as a left-sided midfielder rather than at left-back.

As for Devera, his Boreham Wood side are presently one point above the relegation zone.

Having been unable to find a club until mid-September, the 29-year-old has gone on to make 22 appearances, scoring once, and featured in their goalless draw at Barrow in the week.

Moving away from the Conference, right-back Fish has made 34 appearances for runaway National League South leaders Ebbsfleet, his home since a month on loan at Pompey.

Nick Awford started the season with Ryman League premier division side Farnborough, before moving to Winchester City in January.

However, the 20-year-old has been restricted to just one appearance for the Evo-Stik League southern division one south & west club, starting a Red Insurance Southern League Cup clash with Hungerford Town.

According to his club’s website, ‘Just as City seemed to be finding form, Awford, suffering from lack of match fitness, was replaced by Adam Tomasso in the 25th minute’.

Tarbuck returned to Dorchester Town in August, where he previously served in a loan spell last term.

He has since gone on to make 26 appearances and scored seven goals for the Evo-Stik Southern Premier side.

Finally, winger Maloney began the campaign with Steve Claridge’s Salisbury, before switching to Horndean in December.

As Westcarr will discover, there is unquestionably life after Pompey.

Yet, for more than a quarter of last season’s squad, it resides in non-league football.