Fans turning on each other is not the answer

Brendon Bone was subjected to shameful abuse by a small section of Pompey fans
Brendon Bone was subjected to shameful abuse by a small section of Pompey fans
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For one weekend only, Brendon Bone was public enemy number one.

Largely among the cyber hordes, granted, but portrayed as the arch-villain all the same.

With it, the episode highlighted how divided Pompey fans have become.

And that fanbase fragmentation is all down to those who have overseen the football club’s plummet in recent years.

Bone’s dastardly crime – he put his name to a statement announcing SOS Pompey were postponing their peaceful demonstration on the day of the Leeds match last weekend.

The reason was simple. Chief executive David Lampitt had welcomed talks with the fans’ action group to answer some of their questions.

That was enough to stop any demonstration – for now.

But within minutes of making the postponement, Bone was catapulted as a hate figure in the eyes of some.

Forget those pinpointed as taking this football club to the brink of liquidation, it was Bone suddenly earmarked for a lynching.

The vile abuse on websites flowed, the obscene threats poured in. He was a wanted man.

To think, all the SOS Pompey spokesman desired was to help clarify the future of his football club.

He was an integral part of a fans’ action group eager to put pressure on the current owners to speak.

Such was the backing from the Portsmouth public, more than 1,100 had joined the Facebook group.

Their presence and proposals for a pre-match demonstration prompted Lampitt to offer to meet them.

Bone didn’t want fame, he didn’t want to make money, he didn’t want to destroy what was already in place.

He had the best interests of Pompey at heart, nothing else.

Yet he was vilified in a shameful manner.

The ugly response from a small section of fellow Pompey fans prompted him to quit barely 48 hours later.

And so SOS Pompey lost one of its driving forces and a good man to have on board.

He was also one of five to have made the decision to postpone any protest.

Not that people should be ridiculed for having an opinion, of course.

Bone – as outspoken as they come – would be the first to acknowledge that.

Speaking from personal experience, his views are forthright and brutally honest without ever overstepping the mark.

The sentiment aimed at him last weekend, though, was unjustified and cowardly.

It was also fired at completely the wrong target.

Thankfully, the outpouring of aggression has since been condemned by the majority of Pompey fans.

Bone has been touched by the subsequent messages of support as well as requests for him to return to the SOS Pompey front line.

The wounds remain deep, however, and he has reiterated his preference to remain well clear.

If anything, it highlights the division between supporters.

Unfortunately, there is a vocal minority who love nothing better than to shout the odds.

And when people such as Bone dare to put their head above the parapet in the interests of being pro-active, they become easy targets.

Interestingly, he never received a single piece of abuse when he took his seat in the north stand for that Leeds match.

Quite a contrast to the reaction on various websites.

In addition, SOS Pompey’s decision to postpone the demonstration prompted some to pledge to turn up regardless.

They swore they would not be shackled and vowed they would be there at Frogmore Road at 2pm.

Not that they turned up.

True, there were a few of those allied with SOS Pompey’s Facebook group present.

Yet they numbered fewer than 10 and were merely interested parties rather than protagonists.

The vocal minority themselves spectacularly failed to turn up and follow through their threats.

As for SOS Pompey, their results have unquestionably been impressive since their formation little over two weeks ago.

They certainly rattled a few cages at Fratton Park.

The spectre of a demonstration prompted Lampitt to open lines of communication with all local media in the preceding days.

The Blues’ chief executive was keen to meet the problems head on and answer the many lingering questions.

In addition, in the middle of the week there was a long-standing engagement with the Pompey Supporters’ Trust.

Finally, he pledged to meet SOS Pompey to discuss their concerns.

And that was enough for the demonstration to be postponed in a show of faith he would meet them as promised.

Sure enough, Lampitt was as good as his word and held court with a delegation of four SOS Pompey members on Wednesday.

By all accounts, it was an excellent meeting and the results have since been reported back to the fans.

SOS Pompey failed the supporters? Not a chance.

In truth, the backlash over the whole affair is more indicative of the deep frustration among fans.

Having watched their club torn apart by mismanagement and selfishness, the thirst for reassurance is a natural one.

While many agreed with the prospect of a demonstration, others did not.

In that respect, SOS Pompey were damned either way.

There were never going to be any winners in this battle.

Similarly, in such troubled times, some fans criticise The News for being too positive on Pompey.

Not quite the view among some in the Fratton Park hierarchy who consider us too negative.

Only a year ago, the newspaper backed a march calling for the owners to speak to fans – receiving criticism.

When Ahmed Al Faraj subsequently spoke for the first-ever time in a bid to quell the unrest, The News withdrew its support – prompting more criticism.

When our editor Mark Waldron appeared on local radio for an hour to explain the reasoning, he received a red-hot grilling.

Interestingly, it was a far more severe reception than the likes of Peter Storrie, Sacha Gaydamak and Andrew Andronikou ever received when on the local airwaves.

Now the in-fighting has flared up again, this time with the excellent SOS Pompey at the heart of it.

It has already claimed one casualty in the form of Brendon Bone, a true Pompey fan wanting to help the club and the fans in their fight to be treated correctly.

Bone’s treatment in itself is a shocking miscarriage of justice.

Especially when the true architects of Pompey’s demise are still very much out there.