Catlin humbled at Pompey's unlikely congratulators

AS the city basks in League Two title pride, the applause can also be heard from elsewhere.

Tuesday, 16th May 2017, 6:59 am
Updated Tuesday, 16th May 2017, 2:26 pm
Milan Lalkovic, Enda Stevens, Kyle Bennett and Mark Catlin with the League Two title. Picture: Joe Pepler

Yes, even from the most unlikely of sources.

Chief executive Mark Catlin has been humbled by the number of congratulatory messages delivered from friends and rivals in football.

Pompey now stand as the fifth side in Football League history to have won each of the four divisions.

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Securing the League Two crown completes a clean sweep for the Blues, who arrived from the non-league scene in August 1920.

In doing so, Paul Cook’s men had to clamber over Plymouth and Doncaster on a dramatic final day at an emotion-drenched Fratton Park.

Yet the promoted pair have demonstrated their class by getting in touch with Catlin to send their best wishes – and they certainly aren’t alone.

Catlin said: ‘I’ve had some lovely messages. It’s a broad spectrum of clubs, fans, agents and players I’ve worked with in the past.

‘I had a fantastic email from Martyn Starnes, Plymouth’s chief executive, congratulating us and wishing us well for next year. He’s looking forward to renewing our rivalry!

‘Football is pretty good like that. Martyn and myself have a little bit of banter anyway – it’s a healthy rivalry.

‘As much as it hurt last year in the play-offs at Home Park, we conducted ourselves very well and the club can be really proud of that.

‘There were no sour grapes from us and this year they have repaid the compliment by congratulating us on our title success.

‘Doncaster have done the same, as have Bognor, Peterborough, Northampton – there are actually too many to list.

‘I also had lovely messages from Bournemouth chairman Jeff Mostyn and Paul Barber, Brighton’s chief executive.

‘You build up good relationships in football and they are two people I hold in very high regard.

‘Should I ever need advice, they are two people I would call because I respect them so much.

‘I have more of a personal relationship with those two than other clubs.’

Aside from pats on the back from those within football, there has been an outpouring of joy from Pompey fans.

And Catlin has been determined to respond to them all.

He added: ‘Whether it’s by email, text, WhatsApp or Facebook, I try to respond to every single message.

‘If I have missed anyone then I really apologise, but generally I answer them all.

‘That communication is absolutely vital. It is part of what we are as a club.

‘Growing up as a West Ham fan, if I sent a letter to them – and I did – I never used to get a reply.

‘I think it’s important you do. You cannot just delete them as it’s not fair.

‘If someone has taken the time to write, have some courtesy and write one back, even if it’s thumbs up on Facebook.

‘If someone has spent the time writing you an email or letter – good or bad – they deserve the courtesy of a reply.’