THEY were dark days which seem a lifetime ago.
But Liam Lawrence will never forget the ‘madness’ which took Pompey to the brink of going out of existence.
During all that went on I was a bit outspoken, I remember doing a couple of interviews about those in charge which were a bit close to the knuckle, but there was no point telling lies, the fans aren’t stupidLiam Lawrence
Tomorrow the former Blues skipper returns to the club where he made 58 appearances and scored eight goals before a summer 2012 departure.
These days the midfielder represents Shrewsbury, who are currently second in League Two and heading for promotion.
Their visit to Pompey represents the first time Lawrence has been back at Fratton Park since agreeing to cancel his contract during the club’s administration.
Unlike some other former team-mates, Lawrence was never the subject of criticism from administrator Trevor Birch, as he attempted to negotiate all contracted first-team players off the Blues’ books to enable the club to continue.
Tal Ben Haim, Erik Huseklepp, Dave Kitson, Hayden Mullins, David Norris, Greg Halford and Luke Varney also agreed for their deals to be torn up.
And for the 33-year-old, the decision to take a financial hit was a comfortable one.
Lawrence told The News: ‘My time at Pompey was just madness, you never knew what was going to happen from one day to the next.
‘I have always loved football and getting up in the morning to go training, but when things like that happen you have to get on with it and be mentally strong.
‘I will not talk figures, but I lost a lot of money trying to help the club – but that was fine, I was prepared to do anything.
‘At one point we were getting 15 per cent of our wages for a few months.
‘That didn’t matter, though. We were footballers earning a good living and the club was in real financial trouble and needed us to help.
‘In February 2012 they wanted me to spend the rest of the season at Cardiff so they could bring in a loan fee.
‘I was happy, settled in Warsash with my family and didn’t want to go anywhere, but was willing to go to help.
‘During all that went on, I was a bit outspoken. I remember doing a couple of interviews about those in charge which were a bit close to the knuckle, but there was no point telling lies, the fans aren’t stupid.
‘I wanted to be as honest as I could – even if David Lampitt (former chief executive) might have threatened to fine me once or twice!
‘Just like the fans, I wasn’t happy with the things going on. Although I didn’t mean to attack him (Lampitt) personally, the people before him should be blamed.
‘It’s superb seeing such a great club still in existence. It was out of order how those fans were treated. Players can move on, but they can’t. They have deserved so much better.’
Lawrence joined Pompey in September 2010 along with Kitson – as part of the deal which took Marc Wilson to Stoke.
Steve Cotterill was manager, with aspirations of a return to the Premier League – yet it didn’t quite work out that way.
‘I was on international duty with the Republic of Ireland and had four messages from Steve Cotterill wanting me to join. It was quite exciting, they weren’t going to be happy in the Championship, they wanted to go straight back up. It turned out pretty wrong,’ added Lawrence.