The details of what unfolded remain disputed, and quite possibly may never come fully to light.
Some close to proceedings say his successor was already lined up. Others offer evidence that wasn’t so.
Whatever the sequence of events, they culminated in Paul Cook departing Pompey a year ago today.
His destination, of course, was Wigan – just 25 days after delivering the League Two title to Fratton Park in the most unforgettable fashion.
How that came to be again seems to depend on your vantage point as the affair unfolded. But it was exactly a year ago I took a phone call from the man at the centre of the drama to offer his version of what took place.
In the end the detail of the conversation was secondary. The message came in the rawness of the Scouser’s words. You can debate the impact of the ownership change, the details of the new contract he sought and if he was unsettled or looking to improve his bank balance. What couldn’t be left open to interpretation was the emotion in his voice which cracked through that call.
Supporters heard only one thing as he was announced as Latics boss, though – which came as he stood in Fratton Park’s kit room with a bottle of Peroni in hand moments after the Cheltenham win.
‘I will not seek to move anywhere,’ came Cook’s Pompey epitaph. ‘For my future, I want to be here.’
Three-and-a-half weeks later, those words were ringing in the Fratton faithful’s ear, as they deemed Cook a snake in the grass.
Of course, time is a great healer and the intervening 12 months has seen perspectives begin to change.
Instead, the mind’s eye now turns to vibrant supporters belting our that ‘we’re on our way’ chant with growing conviction through the run to the title. The memories are of a glorious afternoon at Meadow Lane and the ensuing party along with the greatest day of final drama and hazy celebrations on Southsea Common.
The story is one Cook himself returned to moments after putting League One silverware into Wigan’s trophy cabinet – a year and day on from his last success.
When asked if he was staying there, Cook responded: ‘I am not going to say things like that ever again in my life. I got absolutely nailed at Portsmouth last year and that’s something I regret so much – things changed for me very quickly there. I still look for their result. I have got so many friends there. There’s good people in that club and I hope they go onto success.’
A year on, they are words which shine a light on where Pompey still stand in their title-winning manager’s estimation.
by Jordan Cross