ALAN KNIGHT surveyed Pompey’s new Roko training base and admitted: It beats playing next to a sewage field!
The Blues legend was present at yesterday’s unveiling of the Hilsea sports facility as the club’s new permanent in-the-city training home.
The modern complex, for which the club have signed a 30-year lease, will feature two state-of-the-art pitches, integrated and refurbished changing rooms, player-lounge facilities and a purpose-designed fitness suite.
For Pompey’s record appearance-maker, it’s all a far cry from days gone by when Knight and his team-mates would train at a wide variety of venues across the city.
Knight said: ‘When I came here 40-odd years ago, we used to train at Eastney Barracks at the Ministry of Defence playing fields.
‘The grounds themselves in those days were perfect and that was a beautiful training ground – well looked after.
‘But with the MoD cutbacks, that did deteriorate over the years.
‘In between, we have trained at all sorts of places, from Warren Avenue in Milton to up at Purbrook on school fields.
‘I’ve also trained at the IBM field in Havant next to the sewage farm.
‘To be honest, the facility there was decent but if the wind was flying in the wrong direction it wasn’t too pleasant!
‘Thankfully, though, we don’t have that problem here!’
Knight believes that a settled training base is long overdue for the Blues.
And the knowledge that the club will not be training on the Fratton Park pitch any time soon – as they have done this season – is also something he thinks will play into the players’ hands.
‘We have never had our own permanent base,’ said Knight.
‘We have a 30-year lease here and that gives the club a base and somewhere we can build from.
‘It is better that we are all based in one specific place.
‘Our base, our place, our home.
‘It is important because a lot of the time we have had to train at Fratton Park.
‘I think that works better with the players as well (having a permanent base away from the ground).
‘Now, when they do go and play at Fratton Park on a Saturday – hopefully in front of full houses – it is that little bit more special.’
And the former Pompey keeper – who now acts as an ambassador for the club – was especially pleased to see the club return to it’s city roots.
Knight added: ‘It’s a big part of what Andy Awford wants.
‘He wants us based back in the city.
‘We are Portsmouth and we should be based within Portsmouth.’