Pompey remains in the blood of Watford coach

Former Pompey coach Ian Woan is set for an emtional reunion with his old club tomorrow
Former Pompey coach Ian Woan is set for an emtional reunion with his old club tomorrow
Carl Baker. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Ian Woan regrets leaving out the Pompey back door.

Entirely understandable, by right he should have walked out of the front entrance with his head held high.

During four years at the club, the popular coach was an integral part of Fratton Park life.

They were tumultuous times which would produce an FA Cup victory, a second FA Cup final, Premier League relegation, administration and near liquidation.

Having risen from under-18 coach to the first-team coaching staff, Woan was privy to them all.

More importantly, while others fled, the former Nottingham Forest star stuck around to assist the club’s rise from the ashes.

But he did finally leave the south coast in June, to link-up with tomorrow’s opposition Watford.

The chance to become assistant to long-time friend and new Hornets boss Sean Dyche was too good to turn down.

Nonetheless, the 43-year-old admits he shed more than a few tears when it came to saying goodbye.

With it being the close season, it was a distinctly low-key departure.

But despite Woan’s exit, he is adamant Pompey remains in the blood.

He said: ‘It was a huge decision for me to leave this summer.

‘I had four years and thoroughly enjoyed it – then I got the chance to work with someone I have known for 25 years at Watford.

‘It was a huge wrench because, despite everything that had happened, we had all been through a hell of a lot together.

‘It was bound to be an emotional decision for me and I can tell you tears were shed.

‘I should know, they came from me.

‘I think Portsmouth Football Club gets you in that way. It grips you, it really gets into your blood.

‘It is such a difficult place to walk away from. You get so involved in it, it embraces you.

‘The highs were so high they took care of the lows.

‘It’s a shame the first game against them is not at Fratton Park because I never had chance to say goodbye to a lot of people.

‘My departure was kind of out the back door because it was during the close season.

‘There were so many good people at the club I didn’t have a chance to say my farewells.

‘Although, I still speak to Guy (Whittingham), Steve Allen, John Keeley and, of course, Steve Cotterill.

‘We had a bond there because of what we went through. We’ll be friends for a long time.’

Woan arrived at Fratton Park in July 2007 to serve in Paul Hart’s Academy set-up.

After Hart was initially promoted to caretaker manager in February 2009, he then moved up to the first-team coaching ranks.

When Hart was sacked in November 2009, Woan served as joint-caretaker manager along with Paul Groves.

It would last just two days, before director of football Avram Grant stepped into the job.

Through the tenures of Grant and then Steve Cotterill, Woan remained as first-team coach and a trusted member of the backroom staff.

And he has many happy memories of those Fratton Park experiences.

He added: ‘I had a fantastic four years. To go there as Paul Hart’s youth-team coach and end up being on the sidelines at Wembley for an FA Cup final in 2010 was incredible.

‘As for that Spurs semi-final, you get goose bumps thinking about it.

‘Nobody gave us a cat in hell’s chance of winning it.

‘But it was one of those days you don’t have very often in football when everything goes your way.

‘Last year when we managed to keep the club in the division with what we had to contend with was also a massive achievement.

‘Steve Cotterill deserves a lot of credit for that.

‘Of course, relegation was a low, the biggest of the lot. We always believed we could stay up.

‘But so many great memories at a great club.’