Why Steve Stone’s Pompey love affair will never die

Former Pompey midfielder Steve Stone
Former Pompey midfielder Steve Stone
Robbie Neilson. Picture: Barry Zee

MK Dons boss frustrated to let Pompey on front foot

  • Steve Stone made 80 appearances and scored 10 goals at Pompey
  • He was part of the Harry Redknapp side which won the Division One title in 2002-03
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The ambition remains strong within Steve Stone, despite geography effectively slamming the door.

Whether in the capacity as manager or coach, the lure of Fratton Park is irrefutable for the former Pompey favourite.

Pompey never leaves you. I could go back tomorrow and fit straight back into that football club, no problem at all

Steve Stone

The hard-working midfielder amassed 80 appearances and scored 10 goals before departing the Blues in May 2005.

More than a decade on, Stone’s affection for Pompey has failed to diminish.

And on Friday night the club will once again attract his focus as Newcastle visit Fratton Park in the FA Youth Cup (7pm) – a fixture expected to be watched by another sizeable crowd.

Stone worked with the Toon’s under-16s before spending four-and-a-half years as first-team coach, until a June 2015 exit.

He will now be a fascinated onlooker from afar when his former clubs meet.

He told The News: ‘For me, Pompey was like a boy band coming back together for that final tour 20 years after quitting.

‘It was my swansong, I’d had my best years at Nottingham Forest and Villa and this was my comeback. It was my encore.

‘Yet I enjoyed it just as much as I did at Forest. The next two-and-a-half years was every bit as memorable as I had in my career.

‘I didn’t expect that, it was a great, great time. You don’t go through many periods like that as a footballer.

‘Pompey never leaves you. I could go back tomorrow and fit straight back into that football club, no problem at all.

‘You sometimes think “I would love to manage that club, I would love to coach that club”, but really, considering where I am geographically, I am miles from it and don’t have any contacts down there.

‘If I lived in that area I would be pushing to get in there to try to make a difference, definitely.

‘As it is, I want to remain in the north-east.

‘Geographically, sometimes I wish I lived in the midlands, there are so many clubs I could go to, but it’s just impossible. You are kind of stuck a little bit.

‘Some of the managers at Pompey during the last eight years have had their hands tied and it’s a shame. Every ex-player must look back and must think “what a shame”.’

Stone currently dabbles in property and is also involved in a start-up company to aid business ventures.

But does he miss football?

He added: ‘I have not actively applied for a job and won’t. It has got to be on your own terms, it has got to be beneficial to me, it is my life.

‘I don’t miss being involved in football, it has a way of taking over your life. You miss out on so many things as well.

‘I have been out for 16 months and, realistically, have to try to get back in somewhere and get an assistant manager’s job, then be a manager.

‘Do I make that move or not? Either way I am not going to sweat about it.

‘What an experience it was being part of Newcastle – and that toughened me up.

‘You deal with multi-millionaire footballers who try to twist you left, right and centre.

‘They have that much money that it doesn’t matter what you say.

‘Sometimes you cannot affect them, you cannot affect their mentality, you are trying to get through and you can’t.’