Pompey tour diary: A tale of Blues past, present and yet-to-come

Former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp
Former Pompey boss Harry Redknapp
Pompey new boy Dion Donohue Picture: Colin Farmery

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The ghosts of Pompey, past, present and yet-to-come have surfaced at the start of their Irish tour.

Cook’s men are now safely ensconced in their base for this week just outside Dublin in County Meath.

The Johnstown Estate Hotel & Spa is playing host to the Blues ahead of tomorrow night’s meeting with Sligo Rovers.

And a fine Georgian base it is to prepare for the new campaign, too, nestled in the countryside overlooking the River Blackwater.

Eyes are traditionally trained on the clues to new faces at this time of year.

Triallists linking up with the squad and those players left behind in England can often reveal much about the campaign ahead.

But the Blues press pack have found themselves unexpectedly regressing to a recent halcyon period in the club’s history.

The News and club media teams’ journey from Southampton airport to Dublin saw an impromptu meeting with a certain Henry James Redknapp take place.

Redknapp, who was travelling to Dublin to take part in Irish TV coverage for the European Championships, took the opportunity to find out what the latest was at his old club.

He may remain a divisive character among supporters, but the affinity Redknapp has for Pompey was apparent.

Stories of the teams he built at Fratton Park were regaled with warmth.

And Avram Grant’s role, or lack of, at Pompey, the love-hate relationship with Milan Mandaric, and Jim Smith’s cheating golf antics all surfaced as Redknapp chewed the fat.

There was still time for Redknapp’s biggest revelation of them all before departing.

Forget any chat about the England’s manager’s job, the big exclusive is Redknapp is set to appear on a celebrity version of Tipping Point.

A dry run for the TV show didn’t bode well, as he correctly answered just one of 20 questions.

Redknapp’s luck wasn’t any better last season when tipping Pompey to romp to the League Two title.

‘I saw the Derby cup game and I was certain they’d run away with it,’ he said.

Barry Harris is hoping for a little more luck after an early-morning visit to Irish trainer George Elliott’s stable this morning.

The Pompey kitman returned with tips to dish out to his fatigued squad after two days of heavy sessions.

Keepers Michael Crowe, Eric Grimes and defender Chris Sessegnon are among that group as they aim to become a part of the Blues’ future.

But it was Pompey’s past which again reared its head here in Ireland in the shape of Cook’s agent.

He has been present in recent days – and is none other than ’80s Pompey midfielder Eamonn Collins.

– JORDAN CROSS