Unsung hero has played his final Pompey tune

Mark Trapani celebrates the League Two title win on Southsea Common with Ashley Brown and John Kimbell. Picture: Joe Pepler
Mark Trapani celebrates the League Two title win on Southsea Common with Ashley Brown and John Kimbell. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Brandishing his Fender Stratocaster, the figure reigned gloriously over that Victory Lounge stage.

The lead guitarist of the Dickensian Vagabonds basked in comfortable surrounds, transmitting his soul through a Marshall amp.

Celebrating the survival of Pompey at the High Court. Picture: Sarah Standing (13980-3797)

Celebrating the survival of Pompey at the High Court. Picture: Sarah Standing (13980-3797)

Yet on the issue of Pompey’s salvation, necessity dictated Mark Trapani was shoved rather than strolled into the limelight.

The South Stand season-ticket holder was propelled into a pivotal presence in the Trust-led survival scrap.

Subsequently, he occupied a seat around Fratton Park’s boardroom table for more than four years during a defining period in the club’s history.

Now Trapani is returning to the shadows, anonymity among the faces of a Saturday crowd beckons.

An early Pompey Supporters' Trust meeting. Picture: Sarah Standing (123732-4542)

An early Pompey Supporters' Trust meeting. Picture: Sarah Standing (123732-4542)

The 61-year-old will not be seeking re-election to the Trust board, while his place on the club board will be relinquished once the Tornante deal is rubberstamped.

It was at a May 2013 evening to mark the seizure of fan ownership when he performed a memorable rendition of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Hey Joe’ among his band’s repertoire.

But Trapani’s real star turn has now come to an end.

‘I have taken the view I have done what I had to do. Four years ago seems like 50 years ago and I think it’s my time to move on,’ he said.

‘I have always viewed myself as a fan and probably never lost that, that is why I always sat in my season-ticket seat rather than taking up a seat in the directors’ box.

‘Even as a director, I continued to pay for three seats.

‘I never got any privilege or special rate, I never even took my Pompey Supporters’ Trust discount because I wanted to make sure the club maximised every opportunity.

‘It has been an almighty privilege. I never ever dreamt I would be a director of Pompey and it’s a tremendous honour I will take to the grave.

‘There were times when people bashed on my door at home because I was the only director who lived on Portsea Island. Sometimes to be very kind – and other times to be downright unkind.

‘On one occasion when going to church, I was stopped by somebody who gave me a right mouthful about Richie Barker.

‘Another day I had somebody at Milton Road filling station square up to me insisting I was in a privileged position and should get rid of Guy Whittingham.

‘But, on balance, I have been absolutely privileged.

‘Being crowned champions was an almighty moment and there were many photographs of me with tears rolling down my cheeks of absolute joy.

‘The good days overshadow the bad ones.’

The managing director of Snows BMW was initially co-opted on to the Trust board in September 2011.

It began an involvement which 19 months later yielded an iconic victory pose while stood beside Mick Williams and Ashley Brown outside the High Court’s Rolls Building.

Trapani was subsequently named on the maiden board of the community ownership era – and involved in the appointment of Pompey’s last five managers.

He added: ‘One of the hardest things I ever had to do was be party to Guy Whittingham’s removal – and that will always stick in my gullet.

‘I can understand why Guy gave me a wide berth for such a long time.

‘In fairness, he came and put his arms round me not long after and said “you guys did what you had to do” and I will always admire him for that.

‘He had been a friend and a customer for quite a long time and to have to do it was really difficult and made me search my soul for a long, long time.

‘We could only do what we thought was right at the time, although his replacement, Richie Barker, didn’t do what we were expecting. One of the great appeals of taking Barker on was having Steve Coppell alongside him and we all expected to learn a huge amount from Steve.

‘When he turned round and asked whether we talked about anything other than football or Pompey, it made me question if we had the right man.

‘Andy Awford wasn’t my hero in the same way Guy was, so it was probably slightly easier but I love Andy as a person and will always be grateful for the job he did keeping us up.

‘But, for me, Andy was too fixed in his ways, he didn’t really want to have a person alongside him that would be there as a mentor.

‘I felt that was needed more than anything.’

Of course, Paul Cook’s decision to quit for Wigan in May prompted one final managerial decision for Trapani and his boardroom colleagues.

And he believes Kenny Jackett’s appointment is an exciting one.

He said: ‘Getting Kenny in was an absolute no-brainer.

‘I was disappointed when Paul left, not devastated because I always realised we’d be in a position to attract somebody of Kenny’s pedigree.

‘I viewed Paul as a tremendous reader of the game.

‘Perhaps I would question some of his motivational tactics and skills – and I did have a number of one-to-one discussions with him over that particular subject – but he was the gaffer.

‘I could never understand why he wouldn’t sign Danny Hylton in January 2016 when he was made available to us.

‘But he made it very clear it wasn’t his choice and therefore he wouldn’t play Danny if we bought him.

‘Did we question that any further? No we didn’t, we let him get on with the job.

‘With Paul, I knew money would talk and maybe he viewed the war chest given by us as not sufficient.

‘In fairness, he said he would get us out of League Two and delivered it with icing on the cake.

‘He will always be a fantastic manager of Portsmouth Football Club.

‘I am proud of what we did and I really hope Michael Eisner, his son Eric and the rest of his family treat the football club and the fans with the respect they truly deserve.’