20 years on ... still Bone Idle and still gossiping about Pompey

We have either arrived at, or just passed, the 20th anniversary of a number of Pompey happenings.

By Steve Bone
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 1:00 pm
One of my better columns, according to many readers
One of my better columns, according to many readers

Last Wednesday, March 23, marked 20 years since the legendary Toddy made his Blues debut, while today, it will be exactly two decades since Harry Redknapp took charge of the team for the first time and Eddie Howe made his debut in what proved an all-too-truncated Fratton career. Incidentally, it was also the day when none of that made many headlines, because the Queen Mother died on the same day.

And on that same day, when Pompey were losing at Preston, this column, Bone Idle Gossip, appeared for the first time.

If you were to ask me how on earth I have filled my little corner of the Sports Mail something like 800 times since, I would have to admit: I’m really not sure.

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I have occasionally written about the hot Fratton topics of the day, but have mostly preferred to focus on more left-field matters, like Maltesers and lucky chairs, a Pompey XI made up of players called Brian, games of ‘Pompey Who Am I?’ and other such subjects, the like of which once prompted Neil Allen to ask me: ‘What trifling irrelevance are you writing about this week?’ I took that as a compliment.

A couple of my best efforts, some say, came a) in the week I was walking round a zoo with my family and the then sports editor Howard Frost phoned me to ask where the column was, an hour or so before the deadline, and I had to admit I'd forgotten to do it so he just filled the space with a random advert and, b) the time I did it but the page had already been sent to the press and it literally appeared as a blank space. I got more comments about that than pretty much every other one that has has actual words in it.

I must thank you, the reader, for putting up with my ramblings, especially those who respond sometimes to a theme, whether it’s a plea for players whose surnames rhyme, or a fave player vote.

Do I have a favourite Bone Idle myself? Yes. On May 10, 2008, the column simply comprised the words to Abide With Me, a handy guide for fans heading to Wembley the following Saturday for that game v Cardiff. That was the high point, and it’s all been downhill since.