Pompey anger still burns deep for Henderson

Stephen Henderson experienced tough times at Pompey   Picture: Steve Reid
Stephen Henderson experienced tough times at Pompey Picture: Steve Reid
Connor Ronan. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Stephen Henderson is now a Premier League goalkeeper, having climbed those Wembley steps a winner.

An exciting future awaits the 24-year-old who, only a matter of years ago, was turning out for Weymouth in non-league football.

Yet he remains angry.

The simmering Irishman can’t ignore the heart-breaking plight of the club he left behind to follow his Premier League dream.

Pompey are no longer Henderson’s concern. Effectively, his time there ended on March 12 when his initial emergency loan deal to the Hammers was sealed.

Granted, Fratton Park may be out of sight. However, for Henderson it is not out of mind.

The keeper arrived last summer as part of CSI’s much-trumpeted era to produce stability and an infrastructure to be proud of.

It didn’t happen that way and, as another financial crisis hit Pompey, the free transfer from Bristol City was one of a number of players shipped out on loan to bring in crucial revenue.

He this week completed his Upton Park move in a reported £600,000 deal, just days after watching the Hammers win the Championship play-off final from the bench.

For Henderson, though – a player who became a fans’ favourite in such a short space of time at Fratton – the sad demise of Pompey still occupies his thoughts.

He said: ‘I’m still upset about the whole Portsmouth situation. It still gets me angry just talking about it. It’s just frustrating. Some people have a lot to answer for.

‘I actually spoke to Appy at the play-off final. We had a good chat and he was telling me what’s going on.

‘My affection for the club was there for everyone to see. It’s a family club and the fans really took to me – I was very grateful.

‘So it is a tragedy what has happened, I wouldn’t wish what happened at that club on anyone.

‘The fans are the best, the absolute best. When I was there I could see myself staying there for as long as I could. I was playing and enjoying it.

‘I am not chatting rubbish, that is the way it is. I love every player there but surely the people in charge knew something like this was going to happen?

‘The players are probably worth what they are on in most other teams, but it was never going to work at Portsmouth and that is the fault of people at the top.

‘It actually goes back as far as players on £80,000-90,000-a-week contracts in the Premier League. People were on money they should not have been and the club continues to suffer.

‘When we went into administration, coming in every day was just horrible. It was not a nice environment and it ends up affecting your personality.

‘I was a lot more snappy coming home to my girlfriend. I took my work home. I was worrying about the future of the club and finding out maybe I had to leave when I didn’t want to.

‘Like I said, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.’

Henderson’s Pompey career would last for just 27 matches.

Nonetheless, he impressed during that time, prompting West Ham to swoop despite already having Robert Green as their keeper.

Henderson added: ‘I will never, ever forget the fans from the bottom of my heart.

‘I remember at Chelsea, even though we got battered, the fans sung “We’re going to win 5-4”.

‘There was the Wolf Pack, too. Greg Halford tried to get in but we were having none of it. It was me, Joel (Ward) and Jason (Pearce). The three of us are very close.

‘You don’t really make many mates for life in football but I can say I definitely have with those two. And who knows, one day I could be back at Portsmouth.’