The Cross Word: Tribute says it all - there’s only one Bobby Campbell

Former Pompey manager Bobby Campbell.
Former Pompey manager Bobby Campbell.
Milan Lalkovic. Picture: Shaun Boggust

Pompey v Walsall: Pre-match talking points

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It will arrive in the 83rd minute of Sunday’s meeting with AFC Wimbledon.

At that moment, Fratton Park will unite as one to pay their own poignant tribute to the creator of a side remembered as ‘one of the best’.

Two hours later and he was still mixing with mesmerised punters who doted on tales of his memorable two-year tenure.

Pompey’s Division Three title-winning team of 1983 – hence the 83rd minute – was his lasting legacy in our royal shade of blue.

A record points total of 91 including a club-record seven wins on the bounce.

The ever-present Alan Biley, and his 26 goals, along with Alan Knight and Colin Sullivan, who also played every game.

Kevin Dillon and Neil Webb in his side, with Mark Hateley set to arrive the following season.

And a first championship in 21 years for the city of Portsmouth of celebrate.

That is the imprint left by Bobby Campbell, the indelible mark and stand-out chapter in the history Portsmouth Football Club.

There will be those followers among the 6,970 travelling fans at Home Park who will thank him for the memories – the game Biley secured the title against Plymouth.

There will be those who will thank Campbell for the memories and giving them some of the finest moments of their careers to cherish.

And those wide-eyed fans who stayed up to the small hours hanging on to his every word at the Marriott Hotel last July, will certainly thank the man who died last Friday for the memories and his everyman touch.

Campbell’s last public Pompey appearances typified his genial character at the Boys of ‘83 dinner in tribute to his side.

When his wife, Sue, herself a local girl, decided it was time to retire to their hotel room at 1am, Campbell explained he’d be along shortly.

Two hours later and he was still mixing with mesmerised punters who doted on tales of his memorable two-year tenure.

That interaction permeated his time at Fratton Park and was integral to the manager’s approach, allowing players to socialise with fans.

‘You can’t win anything with choirboys,’ Campbell told The News in an interview last year.

‘And to be fair, I would have thought that if any of the fans saw the players step out of line, they would put them straight – they’d do my job for me!’

Many of those players have their places in the Pompey Hall of Fame assured.

Knight, Dillon, Biley and Mick Tait are all inductees from Campbell’s title-winning side.

Mark Hateley arrived later, as Campbell’s eye for talent shone. A fee of £220,000 was paid for a man who departed for AC Milan 12 months later as an England international for £1m.

He also is viewed as the finest striker in Pompey’s modern history, by those who have been around long enough to remember.

The players speak of the time playing under Campbell as halcyon periods in their careers.

‘It was his frankness,’ said Hateley. ‘He knew what he wanted and he had high standards.’

‘It was the best time of my career and Bobby was the start of that,’ added Dillon.

‘Bobby got the club back on the way to where it should have been. He was the start of that process.’

A Scouser with a desire to play attacking football resonates with where we stand today under Paul Cook.

If the man who sits in the same Fratton hot-seat as Campbell is spoken of with similar cherished toned in 30 years, he’ll have done a heck of job helping rebuild Pompey.

You’ll hear the same reverence and admiration in Pompey voices as his name fills his former home at around 4.08pm on Sunday.

One Bobby Campbell. There’s only one Bobby Campbell.