Die-hard Blues like Awford are exactly what's needed at Pompey

Andy Awford was part of the packed room on that historic night at the Railway Club.

Tuesday, 11th December 2012, 4:19 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 8:11 pm

It was February 11, 2010, when Pompey fans converged to plot a way forward for their club and form a supporters’ trust.

Balram Chainrai had just become owner – for the first time. Administration would be just two weeks away – for the first time.

Those not armed with precious hindsight decided to act.

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That occasion was the first public meeting of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust and ratification for the creation of a group today poised to own Pompey.

Among the 200 who turned out at the Railway Club were Awford and Alan Knight, eager to give backing to the club they played their entire Football League careers at.

Awford was not an employee of Pompey at the time, instead he was working as a PE teacher at Ditcham Park School in Petersfield. He also covered games for Radio Solent.

He didn’t have to be there on that freezing Thursday evening, it was no publicity stunt or attempt to put himself in a favourable light.

Awford wanted to be present, it was important to him.

Along with Knight, they paid £5 for a year’s membership. Retired footballers with almost 1,200 Blues appearances between them turning out to join a trust.

Fitting then that Awford should be at the forefront as the club today sit on the cusp of a new dawn.

No longer a PE teacher, no more a summariser on local radio, yet still a backer of the Trust and supporter of Portsmouth Football Club.

As assistant to Guy Whittingham during their current stint as caretakers, he is helping with first-team affairs.

As Academy manager, he is laying the platform for future Blues footballers in a youth system which has become increasingly crucial.

It’s a dual role the 40-year-old is handling with trademark infectious enthusiasm, humour and a steely glint in his eye.

This is more than a safe pair of hands during uncertain times, having answered his employers’ SOS. For Awford is a figure who must remain part of the club’s fabric as it attempts to move forwards under Trust ownership.

Like Whittingham Alan McLoughlin, Paul Hardyman and Mark Kelly, these Pompey stalwarts represent the community feel the club want to embrace during this period of rebuilding.

Characters who served the Blues with great distinction, understand the inner workings, are respected by the supporters and possess a genuine affection.

No coincidence three of them occupy spots in Pompey’s Hall of Fame, their pictures hanging in the Victory Suite.

They are at Fratton Park because they want to be. Not because it pays handsomely or they get to work with world-class facilities.

Those present in the Victory Suite last Saturday for Awford’s question-and-answer session will have witnessed potentially a future Pompey manager at work.

Or as one fan later put it ‘an impressive job interview’.

Not that Awford is touting himself around for the job, far from it, he is focusing purely on assisting Whittingham.

However, you couldn’t help but be impressed by the ex-Blues skipper on that afternoon as he fielded questions for an hour from fans as part of the Trust’s day-long event.

Switching effortlessly from first-team aspects to the youth set-up, he was eloquent, informative and knowledgeable.

In addition, he was honest.

His assessment of situations was. at times brutal and eye-opening, nevertheless appreciated by Blues followers who these days refuse to stomach any sickly sugar coating of issues.

Pompey fans loved the transparency of Michael Appleton.

Similarly, Whittingham has conducted himself impeccably in his caretaker role.

A Pompey thoroughbred and man of great dignity whose nature commands genuine respect.

He has maintained that link with supporters, opting to be open and approachable at a time when the release of information continues to be essential.

Of course, while the club remain in limbo, Whittingham has the opportunity to impress and stress his credentials for the job on a full-time basis.

Inevitably, the Trust are watching developments with interest.

It’s a thankless task trying to steer the club free from the pull of relegation at present, yet Whittingham is guaranteed to always give his all.

As is ‘bad cop’ Awford, whose match-day vocal antics can penetrate the eardrums of supporters situated at even the very peak of the Fratton end.

Should the Trust be satisfied with the result of next week’s court case and are able to take Pompey out of administration, the hunt is on for a permanent manager.

Awford was there in the club’s time of need in February 2010.

How apt it would be if he was there in the first-team set-up for the club’s fresh start.