Honoured, privileged and lost for words.
That was the reaction from Pompey’s Hall of Fame class of 2016 as they were inducted at tonight’s packed Victory Lounge celebration.
Fans’ favourites Svetoslav Todorov, Noel Blake and Dave Kemp made the emotional trip back to Fratton Park, with Billy ‘Farmer’s Boy’ Haines given a posthumous induction – accepted by grandson John Waters.
The quartet represented four greats from four different eras and as their achievements were recognised, they were able to reflect on what the evening meant to them.
Todorov, the man who helped fire Pompey to the Premier League in 2003, said: ‘It’s unbelievable for me to be inducted into the hall of fame and I am really happy.
‘It was an honour and when I was first asked I said yes I would come over from Bulgaria.
‘Fratton Park feels like home.
‘I have fantastic memories, like winning promotion to the Premier League and then the Great Escape season when we stayed up.
‘I really enjoyed playing for Pompey, the atmosphere at Fratton Park was unbelievable.
‘It does not compare to anywhere else that I played – my relationship with the fans was incredible.’
Defender Blake also enjoyed promotion to the top flight with the Blues, this time in 1987, and was lost for words by his induction.
‘I can’t put into words how it feels to be inducted,’ he said.
‘Obviously I am very honoured.
‘You think of all of the great players to have played for the club and to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is one of the biggest honours you can receive.
‘I still have a special relationship with Portsmouth Football Club.
‘Whenever I come back here I never feel like I have left – even though it was all those years ago.
‘There is always a warm feeling and welcome back to the place.’
Popular striker Kemp scored 38 goals in 76 games for the club and was a stand-out player in the ‘70s.
He said: ‘I am very pleased, privileged and honoured.
‘It was 40 years ago that I played for the club and to still be remembered is fantastic.
‘I’ll be honest I am a bit choked up about it.
‘Players come and players go but to be remembered all this time later is wonderful.
‘I love the club and I love the town.
‘Coming back tonight I had a good feeling – I always liked it here.’
Waters insisted prolific grandfather Haines would have been delighted with the award having scored 128 goals for Pompey in 179 games back in the 1920s.
‘This is a marvellous occasion,’ said Waters.
‘My gramps was a bit of a talker and he would have been made up to be on that stage being honoured.
‘It was the pure atmosphere of the ground that he loved.
‘His heart belongs here.’