PORTSMOUTH believe they have learned from the mistakes of the past as they continue to rebuild the club for the future.
The St Helen’s outfit were a premier division club as recently as 2007 but were relegated that year after a series of points deductions for several player registration irregularities.
When players started to arrive from London and were being paid, it wasn’t a club I wanted to be a part of so I leftDave Henderson
They were then sent down to division three as further punishment from the league.
Since then the club has reinvented itself, with far more emphasis on local youth development, rather than recruiting players from far afield.
And with their home-grown crop, they are currently top of division two with six wins out of six heading into tomorrow’s showdown at local rivals Hambledon.
While skipper Dave Henderson wants to see the club progress, he insists they will not go down a similar route in the future.
‘Getting back to the premier division is not in our three-year plan, let’s put it that way,’ said Henderson.
‘We’ve got a properly authentic club again.
‘It is a community club and previously it was trying to chase the dream.
‘In fact, there are parallels with the football club.
‘The cricket club wanted to buy success and it was a very short-term mentality.
‘Now it’s about getting the basics right and getting kids to love and play cricket to build the foundations for the future.
‘Last season we felt it was too soon to get promoted and we needed a bit of patience.
‘We just wanted to build up the club steadily and bring young players through the ranks.
‘But we are definitely ready for it this year and we have some more youngsters coming through.’
Henderson missed much of the controversy which seemed to dog Portsmouth at every turn, as he stepped away from the club for five years.
He said: ‘I had five years away through work commitments, kids and a few other things. But it was no coincidence.
‘When players started to arrive from London and were being paid, it wasn’t a club I wanted to be a part of so I left.
‘I’ve got some strong beliefs about what a club should be about, a lot like Hambledon have.
‘They are a decent bunch of people, they care about local cricket, too, so it should be a good fixture.
‘They have picked up in the past couple of games after a dodgy start and a change of captaincy.
‘They have some momentum now and have a similar side to the one that played in division one last year.
‘We are not taking it lightly.’
Portsmouth are without leading spinner Andy Marston, who has been called up by Hampshire Academy, with Ish Ahmad replacing him.
The Dons, who turned in their best display of the season in last week’s win over Langley Manor, have been dealt a triple blow, with Ian Turner, Rupert Hetherington and Jack Lavous all missing.
Skipper Rob Atkins said: ‘We will miss them but there will no excuses.
‘We’ve still got a team of talented cricketers and there is no pressure on us so we will give it our best shot.
‘Portsmouth have got off to an excellent start but hopefully we can give them a scare.’