This Christmas sees Played Up Pompey Too hit the shelves.
Written by The News’ chief sports writer Neil Allen, the book contains fresh interviews with 23 of the Fratton faithful’s favourite players.
Continuing this week’s series of extracts is John Beresford, who made 132 appearances and scored 10 goals for the club.
Jim Smith represented my fourth manager in little more than two years at the club, yet was my favourite boss. I would have loved to have worked with him in the top flight because he was very, very good.
Don’t get me wrong, though, I clashed with him ridiculously!
There’s one match which immediately springs to mind – the FA Cup fifth-round replay at Middlesbrough in February 1992.
Their right-back, Gary Parkinson, was bombing on, as was Stuart Ripley, and I was really up against it, prompting me to shout over to the bench a few times ‘I’m getting chewed up here’.
Regardless, we won 4-2, with Darren Anderton and Colin Clarke each scoring twice to steer us into the quarter-finals.
Plenty of reason then to celebrate in the changing rooms afterwards, only for Jim to enter and start tearing into me. It was bizarre, I had done all right despite being up against it and we’d won!
‘All you lot are celebrating and you, well you were soft as anything tonight,’ he steamed.
I wasn’t having that, so jumped up and we went face-to-face. He’s trying to get at me, I’m trying to get at him, and people are separating us.
‘I was out there on my own on the left and you come in and say that,’ I shouted back.
It was calmed down, I had a shower but was still fuming when I came out to meet my parents, who had attended the game.
Now my dad was really critical when it came to evaluating my performances, so I asked for his thoughts on how I played. ‘You did well tonight, son. It was a tough game, well done’.
That incident continued to go around my head and I absolutely lost it – my solution was to write a transfer request.
We were back in for training two days later and I knocked on Jim’s door to find him sat behind his desk with a Racing Post.
‘What do you want, Bez?’ came his call, to which I responded ‘I want a word’.
‘What word?’ he said – and I snapped ‘Actually, I don’t want a word, there you are’ and threw the letter on to his table.
I told him it was a transfer request and he replied ‘You what? Sit down, sit down’.
He opened this letter and in a really effeminate voice began to read it out loud ‘I want a transfer request. What’s up, have I upset you?’
‘Yes you have and I am not having it. You are bang out of order, I actually played all right against Middlesbrough, I am not having what you did after that game.’
Jim’s tone changed: ‘I have loads of young lads coming through, players such as Kit Symons, Andy Awford, Darren Anderton and Darryl Powell, and everyone was getting carried away in that dressing room.
‘If I had hammered them I would have lost them, so thought I could slaughter you and you would be all right about it – but maybe I am wrong.’
He added: ‘Maybe I did go a bit too far, but I thought you did well. I just wanted to keep everyone on their toes to show them not to get carried away.’
With that, he screwed up the letter, threw it in the bin and said ‘Now get out there and stop being a soft so-and-so!’.
n Played Up Pompey Too is priced at £17.99 and available from Waterstones in Portsmouth, Fareham and Petersfield and local newsagents.
It can also be ordered from Amazon.