Ex-Pompey boss Claridge relishing reunion

Salisbury boss Steve Claridge Picture: Chris Hatton
Salisbury boss Steve Claridge Picture: Chris Hatton
  • Steve Claridge scored 37 goals in 122 matches as a Pompey player
  • As a manager, he oversaw 23 matches during a 137-day stint before being dismissed by Milan Mandaric
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Steve Claridge is relishing hosting Pompey as his former club visit Salisbury tomorrow night.

The Whites’ boss last season led his team to the Wessex League premier division title – his first campaign at the resurrected club.

In July last summer Salisbury didn’t have a player after being liquidated, while the pitch’s grass was 3ft tall and hadn’t been touched

Steve Claridge

They finished 20 points clear of nearest rivals Sholing, while also reached the semi-final of the FA Vase.

Now stationed in the Evo-Stik Southern League south and west division, Claridge’s outfit tomorrow night entertain Paul Cook’s side at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium (7pm).

Pompey followers will notice a familiar look about Salisbury, with Blues Academy graduates George Colson, Josh Warren and Elliot Wheeler among their ranks.

Justin Bennett arrived from Gosport Borough in the summer, Charlie Searle is on loan from the Hawks, while former Westleigh Park boss Mick Jenkins is the director of football.

Then there is Claridge – Pompey Hall of Fame inductee, 37 goals in 122 games as a player, and 137 days as manager.

And the 50-year-old will this tomorrow evening face the Blues during the latest friendly test.

He said: ‘From our perspective, every penny counts and for small clubs like us this is what pre-season friendlies are all about.

‘In July last summer Salisbury didn’t have a player after being liquidated, while the pitch’s grass was 3ft tall and hadn’t been touched.

‘We had to build the club from scratch and managed to win the league by 20 points.

‘This summer we have let a few go but not brought in a huge amount at this stage as we are waiting on people getting fit first.

‘We are still trying to work out who is good enough and who isn’t. That is where we are in the scheme of things.

‘But tomorrow night we will be stepping up pre-season having played triallists and young lads – I would imagine Pompey are looking to do the same.

‘They will be bringing down a strong side, not the young one like Saturday, and I would imagine it will be somewhere near the team which will start the season.

‘Hopefully it will be a good crowd, it will be lovely to see a few people down from Pompey, they always makes a great atmosphere.

‘It will be good fun. It’s a nice ground, the supporters will be well looked after and it will be relaxed.’

Salisbury have injury problems, with Kane O’Keefe (ankle), Callum Hart (shoulder), Robbie Matthews (calf), Jack Vallis (calf) and Calum Brockway (shoulder) all absent.

SALISBURY (from): Searle, Colson, Wheeler, Warren, Walker, Leigh, Perrett, Mundy, Herbert, Young, Wheelan, Bennett, Wright, Benson