Walsh: The failings of Pompey’s pretenders to Whittingham

Paul Walsh, right, and Guy Whittingham
Paul Walsh, right, and Guy Whittingham
Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

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This Christmas sees Played Up Pompey Too hit the shelves.

Written by The News’ chief sports writer, Neil Allen, the book contains fresh interviews with 23 of the Fratton faithful’s favourite players.

Continuing a series of extracts is PAUL WALSH.

Sure enough, Guy Whittingham was sold to Aston Villa, the one player other clubs would have been interested in taking from Pompey. On the eve of the 1993-94 campaign, the partnership had broken up.

Guy’s replacement was Lee Chapman from Leeds United in a £250,000 deal, Pompey beating West Ham to his signature in August 1993, but as a strike partnership we were useless.

I couldn’t play with him. You want a big lump to stay as high up the pitch as possible so you can hit him and play off him, but Chapman thought he could play and would attempt to get the ball. The drawback was he was hopeless in possession.

Understanding what he was trying to do was a problem. Normally you find a solution, but the relationship just wasn’t there and Jim Smith moved him on to West Ham after six weeks, six appearances and two goals.

We also had Brett Angell, who came in for a few weeks, trained, never made an appearance and then disappeared.

In January 1994, Gerry Creaney arrived from Celtic in a club-record £500,000 deal. He was a decent finisher of good ability, but considered himself better than he actually was.

He reminded me of a poor version of myself at Tottenham. His attitude was to go out drinking and have a laugh, not that I can knock him having been there myself once. Yet he wasn’t totally focused on football and I suppose his career ultimately reflected that.

While at the Blues, I lived out of the city. The Pompey public are happy to see you now and again – and if the team are doing well they are even more delighted to see you.

However, if you are getting as drunk as a skunk and being a nuisance when the side are playing really badly, like Gerry did, then you are going to wind people up.

For that reason, I rarely went out in Portsmouth. I dipped my toe now and again and, upon the occasions I did go out, people were genuinely happy to see me, rather than those team-mates who were irritating when drunk.

I didn’t have that long with Gerry at Pompey, we lined up alongside each other four times before my March 1994 departure for Manchester City, but I certainly don’t remember us being that great together.

He had a little bit more about him than Chapman and a much better footballer who could have been a very, very good Championship player or maybe got away with a career lower down the Premier League.

You have to be really good at something and I’m not sure what he was really good at. We needed a goalscorer – and Creaney wasn’t Guy Whittingham.

n Played Up Pompey Too is priced at £17.99 and available from Waterstones in Portsmouth, Fareham and Petersfield and local newsagents. It can also be ordered from Amazon.