Pompey will never forget Tricky Nicky on the wing

He wasn't fond being called Nicky '“ the preference was Nick.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 7th June 2016, 7:30 am
Nick Jennings, right, was inducted into the Pompey Hall of Fame in 2014 along with Arjan de Zeeuw and Billy Gilbert

‘At Pompey I became Nicky rather than Nick because it was “Tricky Nicky”. It made a good headline,’ Jennings confessed in January.

‘All my friends call me Nick, I didn’t particularly like the “Nicky” tag.’

Regardless of the label, the impish left-winger made a fine name for himself during seven-and-a-half years at Fratton.

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Jennings had days earlier turned 21 when presented with a Pompey debut in January 1967, following his arrival from Plymouth Argyle.

With the Home Park club desperate for money, manager Derek Ufton, an ex-Kent cricketer and former Charlton Athletic defender, opted to cash in.

According to Jennings, there were protests from disgusted Pilgrims followers as their bright homegrown star was packed off.

He went on to amass 227 appearances and score 50 goals as he established himself as a Fratton Park favourite.

On Saturday, at the age of 70, he passed away suddenly.

Yet supporters will fondly remember a right-footer who occupied the left flank and was a consistent source of assists for Blues team-mates.

Such was his impact, Jennings was tearfully inducted into the Pompey Hall of Fame in 2014 alongside Arjan de Zeeuw and Billy Gilbert.

Deeply proud, he subsequently took root at the bar of the then-Hilton Hotel, in Farlington, until 3am, reminiscing with de Zeeuw and Pompey Former Players Association secretary Jake Payne.

That same year saw him achieve the distinction of featuring as the Sports Mail’s Big Interview twice in three-and-a-half months.

Although, admittedly, such an achievement was through a lack of communication on the sports desk rather than a desire to repeatedly remind supporters of Jennings’ calibre.

Still, the diminutive winger was an obvious inclusion in the second edition of Played Up Pompey, culminating in us meeting in mid-January.

I travelled to his Barton-On-Sea home, situated in the New Forest, where for two hours around his kitchen table we discussed his Blues career.

The softly-spoken Jennings was a charming presence, pouring over his Fratton time with humour interspersed with moments of disappointment.

Peter Marinello’s arrival in the summer of 1973 particularly pained, John Mortimore’s signing effectively marking the end of his time in the first-team, with only four appearances during that 1973-74 campaign.

In May 1974 he departed for Exeter, where he spent another four years before retirement and the start of a new career working for the probation service.

Jennings believed he would have thrived in today’s game, better quality pitches and more protection from referees a tantalising fit.

As we bid farewell in January, he handed an email address containing the prefix ‘nicholasjennings11’.

And Pompey fans are just as proud to forever associate their club’s number 11 shirt with Nick Jennings.