Lower Life: Maguire, Harper and Pompey interviews good and bad

Kevin Harper in action for Pompey at Leicester  Picture by Steve Reid
Kevin Harper in action for Pompey at Leicester Picture by Steve Reid
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Jez Bedford in Pompey training. Picture: Sarah Standing (170841)

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I’ve come into contact with plenty of Pompey players in my time so I don’t know why I still get a little star-struck when a former Blues legend gets involved in one of my Twitter conversations. But I do, writes Steve Bone.

The other day, I don’t know how, but tweeting talk turned to Kevin Harper, the Scottish winger who served us very well either side of the turn of the millennium.

He’s one of many ex-Pompey types on Twitter and saw that he was being talked about, and joined in to say how he still had a soft spot for Pompey.

It’s amazing how many of our former players say that. I wonder if it’s true of other clubs?

A few weeks earlier, it was Gavin Maguire, now a hairdresser in Somerset – a job and venue that would surely win him a competition, if one were to be held, to see who had the most unlikely career and home after football. Beats being a pub landlord hands down.

I can’t even remember what some of us were discussing that involved our former no-nonsense Welsh centre-half, but the upshot was that I asked him if he remembered me as a rather raw young reporter interviewing him and Martin Kuhl in the Pompey dressing room one Friday lunchtime back in 1989.

To my amazement, he said he did remember it.

It got me thinking about all the players I’ve been fortunate enough to have the chance to interview down the years in various roles with the club and in newspapers. Gav and Martin were two of the first, and despite a distinct lack of searching questions on my part, turned out to be two of the first of many.

I’ve always been mindful that being in a job that involves the chance to interview people who are seen as heroes (well, some of them are...) by thousands is a privileged position.

And I count myself lucky to have spent a few years on the sports desk at The News when my role involved covering Pompey training and matches pretty regularly.

Harper, affectionately known by fans in the song as Kevin Harper Football Genius, was one of the most approachable players in the squad before his departure, while other favourites of mine included Steve Stone (who wouldn’t stop talking once you got him started) and Arjan De Zeeuw, who was always happy to communicate with fans through the paper.

But for every player you looked forward to interviewing, there was another you dreaded.

I never quite got the hang of quizzing Teddy Sheringham.

My first two attempts – ‘What did you think of Villa today, Teddy?’ after Pompey had beaten them and ‘How many do you think you can score this season?’ after a hat-trick versus Bolton were met, respectively, by ‘That’s not for me to say’ and then, ‘I don’t set targets’ followed by a sprint down the stairs and into the in the South Stand and into the Frogmore Road night.

The one time I did get him talking, which was a few months later at the training ground, he was eloquent and extremely knowledgeable – so I forgave him.

But he was a dream compared to Amdy Faye, who I collared after a 0-0 draw at Molineux.

Given that I didn’t speak a word of French and he didn’t speak a word of English, it was always doomed.

After a few minutes of nodding and SPEAKING VERY CLEARLY IN THE HOPE HE’D UNDERSTAND, my last ‘question’, I think, was ‘Err, you play Arsenal next, Amdy’. He responded with a frown. And we ended it there.


@stevebone1 on Twitter

(More tales from the training ground in future columns - if you want them)