Pompey supporters forced to cancel US reunion after Hurricane Irma hits

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POMPEY supporters and former players were left disappointed after their annual reunion in Florida was cancelled because of Hurricane Irma.

Dozens of people from both the US and UK were due to meet up in Fort Lauderdale this week but were forced to change their plans after the huge storm arrived.

Reunions have been held in the US for about 20 years. Picture: Stateside Pompey

Reunions have been held in the US for about 20 years. Picture: Stateside Pompey

The annual meet-up, organised by the Stateside Pompey supporters’ group, has been held for about 20 years.

Jake Payne, a committee member of Pompey’s Hall of Fame, had been planning on travelling from Cosham for five days with his wife Christine.

The 59-year-old said: ‘It has just been a pain because we were looking forward to it.

‘We can’t say we were too unlucky though. There are people a lot worse off because of the hurricane.

At least 79 people have lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Irma. Picture: Sue Jones

At least 79 people have lost their lives as a result of Hurricane Irma. Picture: Sue Jones

‘We usually get at least 20 people out, but it depends on who is available.

‘We often have people come from New York and Canada to meet up.

‘Usually they just come over for a couple of days to see everyone.’

Players due to come this year included former Pompey striker Alan Biley, who scored 50 goals for the club between 1982 and 1984.

In previous years, reunions have been held across the country, including in Las Vegas and Charleston.

Described as the annual ‘jolly’, trips often include nights out and meals to catch up with old friends.

One of the trip’s main traditions is watching live Pompey matches, even with the large time difference.

Jake, who first went to see Pompey play in 1967, said: ‘Sometimes you might have been up until 4am, and then you wake up three hours later to watch the game.

‘I remember last year in Las Vegas to watch Pompey play Accrington – we lost 1-0 that day.

‘Last year we also met up in the hotel bar and asked the pianist to play “Play up Pompey”. I don’t think he knew what we were talking about.’

Jake and Christine were also planning to use the trip to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary, but have managed to book another trip to New York in the next few weeks.

Hurricane Irma, which was Category 5 at its peak, caused catastrophic damage in the Caribbean before landing in Florida.

At least 79 have been killed as a result of the storm.

It was the most intense storm observed in the Atlantic for 10 years.