Those halcyon Premier League days, when thorny bushes and wire-mesh fences were pre-season companions.
Alternately, inhabit Eastleigh Football Club’s car park to catch a glimpse of those pulling up across the road in their motors.
The Blues’ training return has long been considerably more welcoming than the swaggering club in its top-flight pomp.
Today saw The News permitted to attend the reconvening of Blues players at their Hilsea training base.
Our photographer was granted complete access to capture Kenny Jackett’s troops back in action.
In addition, The News were allowed to Facebook Live training for almost 40 minutes, before our cameraman’s aching arm dictated time to wrap up.
Jackett’s sole stipulation was for no reporters to attend yesterday’s session – instead he will be available for interviews this afternoon.
It is indicative of the excellent access enjoyed by media during a digital era when more pressure exists to provide Pompey information to supporters on a host of fronts.
For the past decade, Blues managers have demonstrated no objections to local media present at the pre-season return.
In the summer of 2016, Paul Cook invited The News to observe his squad’s running session along Fareham Creek Trail, starting from Wicor Rec in Portchester.
Although it was requested Kyle Bennett’s absence was kept under wraps after his flight back from an American holiday was delayed.
Still, the ever-unpredictable Cook declined to be interviewed on the record that day, insisting there was ‘nothing to say’ about returning for pre-season.
In July 2010, newly-appointed boss Steve Cotterill opened the doors for us to witness just seven senior players present for Pompey’s return.
In fairness, numbers were hampered by the absence of those on World Cup duty, yet youngsters Joel Ward and Matt Ritchie admirably stepped in.
While in 2013, with training facilities at the University of Portsmouth’s Langstone Campus not yet finished, Pompey opened at St John’s College playing fields.
Boss Guy Whittingham invited the media to be present, with the club now under fan ownership.
More helpful times than when The News’ banished photographer would peer through thickets and brambles outside the Wellington Sports Ground.
That was until the day he was thwarted by two club stewards holding up a mattress.
- NEIL ALLEN