Former chairman hails Andy Awford’s pivotal role in Portsmouth rejuvenation

Andy Awford inspired Pompey to Football League safety after becoming caretaker boss in March 2014. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford inspired Pompey to Football League safety after becoming caretaker boss in March 2014. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Andy Awford deserves a ‘golden bust’ to commemorate his feat of keeping the Blues in the Football League.

That’s the verdict of Iain McInnes, who retains immense admiration for the Pompey Hall of Famer who ensured the 2013-14 campaign didn’t culminate in non-league football.

Awford succeeded Richie Barker in March 2014 with the Blues perilously perched one place above the League Two relegation zone with seven matches remaining.

Yet the former head of Academy led them to four straight wins – and safety with three matches to spare.

Presently, Kenny Jackett’s side are three points clear at the top of League One as the rejuvenation continues.

And McInnes has praised Awford’s contribution four-and-a-half years earlier.

Pompey’s former chairman said: ‘Andy probably deserves a golden bust somewhere for the way he came in and transformed what was going on to keep us in the Football League.

‘That was more than just the new manager honeymoon because he had been around a long time.

‘Andy and his crew did a cracking job to keep us in the Football League and there was almost an inevitability about him getting the job permanently.

‘I didn’t think any other decision could be made – and nor did the rest of the board.

‘What he didn’t do was conform to the second recommendation we made upon his appointment, which was to get somebody experienced to work alongside him.

‘We eventually bought in Gary Waddock to do that, I thought that was a really good decision to bring experience Andy perhaps didn’t have on his coaching staff and I think that worked for a while.

‘I think it would have probably worked longer term, but at that point in time people were saying we don’t want to be mid-table, we want some success.

‘Andy remains a great guy, Pompey through and through, and has done well at Luton.’

Although McInnes still shudders at the November 2014 televised defeat at Plymouth, when Pompey slumped to a 3-0 loss.

He added: ‘For me, one of the low points during that era was the Plymouth game, an important match for me and the fans.

‘That was team selection gone mad and, to be honest with you, I called a couple of directors and said “I shouldn’t bother coming today. I’m here so I’ve got no choice”.

‘In the centre of midfield Jack Whatmough was 60-per-cent fit after previously being injured for six weeks and alongside him was Nick Awford, making his league debut.

‘The manager picks the team, you don’t interfere, although we had quite a hellish conversation about it the night before when I found out.

‘I couldn’t quote what I said exactly. I sat in a corner and soon enough the paint came off the walls!’