Northstand Critic: How I landed in hot water with Pompey player’s dad

Pompey's Rory Allen races Lee Sandford, during his Sheffield United days
Pompey's Rory Allen races Lee Sandford, during his Sheffield United days
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If you were to natter with Mrs Northstand, or chat to my children, or maybe even fraternise with other family and friends, they would all be in agreement regarding an aspect of this column’s author.

One of my traits has put me in some rather awkward situations over the years.

And it is one that remains unconquered – talking inappropriately.

In October 1989, Pompey and Blackburn Rovers drew 1-1 in a keenly-contested affair.

It was a game I was convinced we should have won.

Over the course of nearly half-a-century following the Blues, I have selected a few players who, in my mind, could do no wrong.

Albert McCann, Kevin Dillon and Gary O’Neil are all included.

Unfortunately for Lee Sandford, he was not.

During the first half of the Blackburn game, a great opportunity presented itself to Sandford but his feeble attempt on goal was easily forgettable.

At least it was forgettable to everybody at Fratton Park that afternoon, bar one.

All through the second half, I replayed the glaring miss in my mind.

Still fuming at the final whistle, I decided to seek out Pompey’s number five and share my thoughts with him.

When I arrived at the players’ entrance, most of the crowd had already dispersed.

Standing directly outside the entrance was a rather intimidating looking man in his mid-40s, who looked even angrier than me.

No doubt he was of a similar mind as regards the culprit for our two dropped points.

As my anti-hero exited the ground, he was moving at a pace he had not reached all afternoon.

He was obviously intent on a quick getaway.

Well, not before I could add my two-penn’orth.

Immediately after making my observation regarding the display of our Lambeth-born left-footer, I noticed the swarthy-looking 40-something was now looking even more irate.

This gentleman was not a Pompey fan at all. He was Sandford’s dad.

He had obviously witnessed the missed open goal and a general underwhelming performance from his son.

He had probably been within earshot of some even harsher comments from the more vociferous and belligerent fans.

Sandford Snr’s presence was with the sole intention of ensuring his son’s exit from the ground went unhindered.

Then up pops yours truly to stir up the hornets’ nest and offer Lee’s guardian a chance to expel a whole afternoon of frustration.

Luckily for me, with a mixture of my quick feet and Lee’s persuasive calming tongue, there was no incident to note.

Just as well for me because, to use a boxing parlance, I was a good few divisions below Lee’s enraged parent.

Sandford played only one more game for Pompey before being sold to Stoke City.

He later joined Sheffield United and enjoyed long and successful spells at both clubs.

Although I would never nominate Lee for a place in Pompey’s hall of fame, I will remain forever grateful for his timely intervention.

Belated apologies to any affected Sandfords.

A regular contributor to the Football Mail’s letters page many moons ago, the Northstand Critic has got back in touch and now writes a weekly column in the Sports Mail.