On this day: Awford calls on spirit of '98 to avoid Pompey relegation

Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Awford. Picture: Joe Pepler
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On this day four years ago, Andy Awford called on the spirit of ’98 to save Pompey’s Football League status.

And the Blues caretaker boss asked the Fratton faithful to recreate the famous ‘wall of noise’ atmosphere against Stockport in the 1997-98 season to power their club to safety.

On March 28, 2014 Awford delivered a rousing verbal opening to his tenure in charge of the only professional club he played for.

He wanted to tap into the sense of unity which carried Pompey to victory in relegation battles in his playing days.

The 41-year-old believed more of the legendary backing produced by Blues fans in that 1-0 win at Fratton Park 20 years ago was needed to turn it around.

Awford told The News: ‘If you look back to the Sheffield United game last season, that was great – but I want Stockport.

‘That’s what we need and that’s what we’ll have.

‘We need to create that Stockport atmosphere.

‘If we are doing the right thing the supporters will come out in their droves and back us. We need that backing and united spirit.

‘I’m not saying every game will be like Stockport. We were seven points adrift at the foot of the table that night when Steve Claridge scored.

‘It was the start of something special, but we might need another Stockport.

‘It was deafening. For those who were there it was some experience. ‘I’ve got a VHS video recording of it, and I watch it back. It’s pretty inspiring.

‘It was strange because we’d had backing before, but nothing to that level.

‘We defended the Fratton End in the second half, we didn’t attack it.

‘A mate of mine was in St Mary’s Hospital and he thought there was a riot.

‘For me, it was the first time I’ve ever witnessed the fans making the difference.

‘The 12th man was invented that night against Stockport. We might need them to come up trumps again.

'We have to have that united spirit and that united Pompey back. That spirit will keep us up.’

Pompey went on to stay up on the final day of the campaign at Bradford in the 1997-98 campaign.