Bone Idle Gossip: Bobby gave us two great years and many great players

Former Pompey manager and player Bobby Campbell died yesterday aged 78
Former Pompey manager and player Bobby Campbell died yesterday aged 78
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YOUR first two or three years of a being a Pompey fan are among the most important and most memorable you’ll ever have.

For me, and others of a similar vintage, those early seasons down the Park were lifted out of the ordinary by the management of Bobby Campbell.

The sad news last night of his death brought the memories flooding back.

Bobby arrived on the Fratton Park staff around the time I went to my first game and was made manager before the end of my first season as a fan, 1981-82.

It was his work in the transfer market in the summer of 1982 that defined his time as Pompey boss, bringing as it did the likes of Alan Biley, Neil Webb and Ernie Howe to Fratton.

All three scored in the first game of a scintillating season which ended with Pompey as division-three champions.

They also contributed much more in the next 45 games.

Campbell’s management of that team was brilliant.

By the time the title was won, Kevin Dillon had been added to the squad – and soon after it was bagged, Mark Hateley signed for Bobby.

The upshot was that Pompey, in attack, were devastating to watch in 1983-84.

In defence, we lacked quality – and as a result, we finished 16th.

We scored 73 league goals that season – even Sheffield Wednesday, who finished second, only managed 72.

The lower-half finish was disappointing but John Deacon’s decision to sack Bobby was still harsh.

The fact he was replaced by Alan Ball, who he’d brought on to the Fratton staff himself, was ironic.

But those couple of years under Bobby were as good as Jim Smith’s peak times a decade later and Harry Redknapp’s another decade on.

For that, Bobby’s name will live on forever at PFC.