Axed Portchester coach ‘gutted’ by Wicor exit

Louis Bell, left. Picture: Paul Jacobs (14629-9)
Louis Bell, left. Picture: Paul Jacobs (14629-9)
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Louis Bell reflected on his AFC Portchester axe and admitted: I’m gutted.

The former first-team coach was shown the Wicor Rec door this week.

He was told he no longer figures in the Wessex League premier division club’s plans and is to be replaced by ex-Hawks assistant manager Steve Johnson.

The decision came out of the blue for Bell, who revealed he has been left dumbfounded by the whole affair.

‘I am just gutted by the whole thing and it leaves a bitter taste in the mouth,’ he said.

‘It has left me a bit shell shocked and the whole way the situation has been handled is very disappointing to be honest.

‘I don’t understand why it has happened and the club hasn’t given me any explanation for the 

‘All they said was they are looking to push the club forward and Steve Johnson will help them do that.

‘They didn’t feel the 
three of us – Johnson, (Graham) Rix and myself could work together.’

Bell arrived at AFC Portchester towards the back end of their first season in the Wessex League premier division – nearly 18 months ago – when they were struggling to get results.

He soon had a new ally in ex-Pompey manager Rix, who joined him and helped oversee an improvement that took them to a 14th-place finish.

‘I met Graham at Fratton Park and asked him if he might be interested in getting involved at Portchester,’ said Bell.

‘At the time he didn’t even know where AFC Portchester Football Club was and had no experience of Wessex League football.

‘Myself and director of football Mick Jenkins set about getting the players in during the summer and we made some good signings.’

Bell attracted good 
quality and experienced players to Wicor Rec with the likes of Joe Bye, Jamie Musselwhite, Nathan Lynch and Jake Thomson signing up to the AFC Portchester revolution.

As a result the club became an increasing force in the league and, despite losing six points for an administrative oversight, managed to finish in eighth place.

‘We were the top side locally and achieved our target of improving on the previous season,’ said Bell.

‘I like to feel I made a big contribution towards that and can take a lot of pride from it.’

The 51-year-old began coaching in the 1980s at Landport 72, after retiring from playing with a cruciate ligament injury.

He moved on to the Portsmouth School of Excellence where he spent five years – later taking on a scouting role for Harry Redknapp at West Ham.

Bell had spells coaching at Fareham and Littlehampton, before moving down the Waterside to manage Blackfield & Langley.

‘Since being axed I have received a lot of texts from players and staff giving their support,’ said Bell.

‘That has been pleasing and now I want to get back involved as soon as I can, preferably at this level.

‘I love my football and being involved on the coaching side.’