ALAN McLOUGHLIN allowed his mind to wander back to his illustrious playing career as Pompey fans chanted his name again.
The former Blues midfielder watched his benefit game from a seat in the Fratton end to mingle with supporters as Pompey played out an entertaining 3-3 draw with AFC Bournemouth in the latest step of their pre-season campaign.
And McLoughlin was serenaded with his old chant during the first half as he paid tribute to those who made it a memorable occasion.
He relished the occasion and was glad to be able to share it with the supporters.
The experience was emotional at times for the Pompey hero.
McLoughlin said: ‘It was great fun.
‘It was like being back on the pitch again when they were chanting my name!
‘It was a wonderful day so I would just like to say a big “thank you” to everyone who came along and made it special.
‘It was just really good of them to show their support.
‘I’d also like to thank my committee – Malcolm Drew, Jake Payne and Ian Marshall – they have been great.
‘Pompey is a club that will always be close to my heart and I was a bit overwhelmed by it, to be honest.’
After his seven-year playing spell, the former Republic of Ireland international then made a return to the club to join the coaching staff in 2011.
But he thinks the chance of returning for a third spell is remote.
McLoughlin said: ‘I certainly don’t anticipate ever returning to the club but you can never say never in football.
‘Coming back for a third time would probably be pushing it!’
In response to the club’s gesture of honouring a contractual agreement dating back to the 1990s, McLoughlin offered a token of thanks.
He said: ‘I went into the boardroom to thank everyone and left some bottles of wine.
‘I’m eternally grateful to the club – they didn’t have to do it.
‘Iain McInnes shook my hand and welcomed me back.
‘You can be left sore about what happened when I left the club and what I think about it will stay with me.
‘But it was a fitting way to sign off.’
Even though it was stipulated as part of his contract, McLoughlin has also pledged to donate a percentage of his earnings from the match to several charities.
He said: ‘I feel it’s the right thing to do but I won’t be singing from the rooftops about it.
‘It will be done quietly and over a period of time.’
– STEVE WILSON