Dave Kitson: Portsmouth players seemed to take the blame for 2012 administration but damage had already been done

Former Pompey striker Dave Kitson
Former Pompey striker Dave Kitson
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Ex-Fratton Park striker Dave Kitson feels he and his former Pompey team-mates were wrongly blamed for the club’s second administration in three seasons in 2012.

And instead of fans taking their anger out on the players back then, the now retired front man believes supporters should have been focusing their fury more on those people who ‘spent money that the club did not have’.

Kitson, who scored 12 goals in 72 appearances for Pompey following his 2010 move from Stoke, came in for some harsh criticism from the stands during his time at the club.

His performances were deemed by some as not up to scratch, while an agreement to cancel the remaining year of his contract was only reached in August of 2012 – six months after the club went into administration and with the Blues on the brink of liquidation.

At the time, that was interpreted as proof that the former Reading forward did not care about the club.

However, since then Kitson has revealed that he was suffering from clinical depression during his spell at Fratton Park and had, in fact, deliberately driven his car into the concrete pillar of a bridge as he struggled to cope at the time.

In an interview with World Football Index this week, the now 39-year-old said he always ‘wanted to do well for Portsmouth FC – as did all the players’ despite it being a ‘horrible’ time in his career.

He also insisted it was unfair that he and his ex-Blues team-mates shouldered the brunt of the blame for the club’s then financial mess when previous owners had ‘walked off into the sunset as heroes’.

Kitson told World Football Index: ‘It was horrible. A really rough time to be a footballer and a fan of the club. The club was in administration when I signed, and also when I left.

‘Myself and a couple of other players, such as Tal Ben-Haim, took the brunt of the anger from the fans, but the truth is the damage had been done by previous owners and it was our particular squad that happened to walk into the lion’s den.

‘I did not play well there. I was also clinically depressed at the time and I got to the point where I had to say to the manager, “look, I can’t even be on the pitch let alone kick a ball properly”.

'I was making myself look silly and the manager Steve Cotterill – who was great with me – realised that I was not right and that mentally I was going further down the rabbit hole.

‘I think the fans took my mental illness as a sign that I did not care about their club, because that’s how it looked when I played.

‘The truth is that I was in no condition to play football at all and their boos, catcalls and abuse simply made it worse.

‘But they didn’t know. It was not an easy situation for anybody given what was happening at the club. I wanted to do well for Portsmouth FC as did all the players.

‘At the time nobody spoke about mental health, whereas now everyone is coming out that they are depressed and have anxiety issues.

‘I tried to say that this is an epidemic and I was banging my head against the wall as nobody wanted to listen, we were still in the age of people telling each other to “man up and get on with it”.

‘Michael Appleton then came in as the new manager and dropped me completely because he could tell that I was not in a position to help the team.

‘He had a job to do and he didn’t have time to babysit me.

‘The club ended up back in administration and it seemed that our squad took the blame, but everybody in football knows that certain people at Portsmouth spent money that the club did not have, and later the football club and the fans paid for it.

‘Certain people from preceding ownerships seem to have walked off into the sunset as heroes, while my team-mates and I — who came in much later — shouldered the consequences of their actions.’