Pompey boss: Finally Home Park agony has been banished

Paul Cook celebrates Pompey's promotion. Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Cook celebrates Pompey's promotion. Picture: Joe Pepler
John Marquis couldn't find a way through for Doncaster. Picture: PA

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THE Plymouth pain has thankfully subsided, barged aside by the lodging of a new Pompey memory.

Notts County has replaced those Home Park recollections so battered and dog-eared following 12 months of pawing.

One of the big things about football is you have to dream. When you go to bed at night before Notts County, you have to go to sleep thinking “What if” and imagine

Paul Cook

A last-gasp semi-final play-off defeat against Derek Adams’ side brought a proud city to its knees. Of course Paul Cook could never forget.

Now the Fratton faithful and those Pompey players and staff so devastated by May 2016 events have created fresh flashbacks to reflect upon.

And Cook cannot resist a smile at being reminded of treasured Meadow Lane scenes on Monday.

He said: ‘I can still remember that Plymouth trip home last year – the pleasing thing is I now also remember Notts County.

‘Without the pain you don’t enjoy the Notts County one half as much.

‘And I really enjoyed that.

‘You must go through pain now and again to get success yet, as a club, I felt there was no criticism towards our players after Plymouth.

‘Our fans knew we had done our best.

‘We all travelled home deeply hurt but from pre-season you start again.

‘It never leaves you, though.

‘I can still remember being at Sligo and beaten by Sporting Fingal in the FAI Cup.

‘I can tell you everything that happened, we had Romy Boco at right-back.

‘We then went on to win that cup for the next two seasons.

‘At Chesterfield, we were beaten at Wembley by Peterborough in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – then promoted as League Two champions four weeks later.

‘You have to manage your disappointment. If you cannot, then you won’t really enjoy success.

‘One of the big things about football is you have to dream. When you go to bed at night before Notts County, you have to go to sleep thinking “What if” and imagine.

‘Once you’ve got that dream, you have to work to get it. It doesn’t just turn up by magic, you train and work hard.

‘Our lads are fit, these lads are machines.

‘At Meadow Lane, I was lucky to have my whole family there, my wife, kids, parents, brothers, everyone. It meant a lot, their support is immense.

‘It’s an honour to manage this club, it really is and to have won promotion is still surreal. It hasn’t yet sunk in!’

While Meadow Lane retains indelible memories, those Victory Lounge scenes that Monday evening will also never dim.

Cook added: ‘I enjoy mixing socially with people. I enjoy having a pint, I enjoy speaking about football but I’m also a great believer there is a time and a place for everything.

‘Certainly on Monday night it was lovely just to sit back and watch the staff as well as players partying and enjoying themselves.

‘It was great to see Conor Chaplin on everyone’s shoulders while earlier in the day witness David Forde running across to the dugout and Gary Roberts off the bench and onto the pitch after the third goal went in.

‘These are great lads, they really are.

‘Whatever happens in the future, we’ll always be remembered in Portsmouth as the team which won promotion.’