Wilson’s Wisdom: Seven years on, foundations are laid

Former Pompey defender Djimi Traore
Former Pompey defender Djimi Traore
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Wilson’s Wisdom is the weekly Sports Mail column written by Steve Wilson

There’s a large star and crescent on the wall of what used to be known as the café in Roko.

Pompey’s new training base is not ready for the public gaze just yet but that famous old crest is a start.

As Andy Awford puts it, he wouln’t let the mother-in-law come round to have a nose around a new house if the curtains aren’t up.

A few inspirational pictures probably need to be hung on the walls and some homely touches need to be added. No doubt all of those will happen in their own good time.

So there will be an official opening some time in early 2015.

But Pompey finally have their own training venue in the city.

No more begging, borrowing or asking for favours from kindly city neighbours who deserve great credit for helping the club.

The University of Portsmouth have done their bit, the navy have offered a hand and many others have chipped in along the way.

But with a bit of luck, Portsmouth Football Club can now decide when they want to train and allow those training facilities to grow with them.

There are plenty of cynics out there who still have their reservations about those in charge at Fratton Park these days.

But this is surely one irrefutable tick in their box – a primary building block towards future success.

While proud of the achievement, Awford himself admits it’s not quite at the high standards of Arsenal or Manchester United.

Frankly, Pompey missed that boat.

And to many, myself included, that still rankles as perhaps the most irreponsible of all those spending decisions that were made during those heady days of the Premier League.

It was the equivalent of spending your wages on some new clothes and too many nights out before you’d paid your rent that month.

That kind of rash judgement that some of us might have made in our formative years, often led to a grovelling phonecall to our parents to bail us out of a financial mess.

While you might expect it of a giddy student learning some financial lessons, you wouldn’t expect it of trusted custodians of a Premier League football club.

Those in charge of the club lived for the now and simply dismissed the future.

To some, it was understandable when Pompey attempted to establish themselves in the top division.

But after that first season or two of those whopping cash injections, surely some of it could have been put aside?

So was it ambition, a lack of strong leadership or just plain stupidity?

Are we simply being wise after the event and viewing things with the benefit of hindsight?

The story goes that Pompey had a choice in January 2007 to either buy the Eastleigh complex they used to rent or sign Djimi Traore.

We all know which way that decision went.

It certainly makes a good yarn although it’s unlikely it was ever quite that black and white.

But those 13 appearances must rank among the most expensive in any football club’s history.

Only now, nearly seven painful years on, have steps been taken to make amends for the folly of others.