Familiar face and Fratton Park fixture poised for long-awaited Portsmouth return

Pompey could be poised to welcome back a familiar face later this month – Barry Harris.

Monday, 4th October 2021, 4:30 pm

Although the 77-year-old continues to watch matches as a supporter, he has been unable to resume dressing room duties since March 2020.

The coronavirus outbreak and subsequent restrictions have dictated that, as a volunteer and considering his age, Harris has yet to be allowed a return to work.

While his absence is stipulated by FA and Government guidelines, chief executive Andy Cullen has been keen to restore him behind the scenes.

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And Harris, who has spent 69 seasons affiliated with Pompey, is hoping for positive news by the middle of this month.

He told The News: ‘Andy Cullen has told me the club want me back and doing my job, which is very nice to hear.

‘At the beginning of the season, he arranged a meeting with me at the ground. I didn’t know what to expect, but he made me so relaxed. He seems a very decent man.

‘Things beyond the club’s control mean I can’t come back yet, but I’m optimistic I’ll be able to return soon, hopefully this month.

Barry Harris is flanked by Pompey favourites Gareth Evans and Christian Burgess at the League Two title-winning celebrations on Southsea Common. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘I’m not holding my breath, I understand the situation, but I do miss match-days and the training ground.

‘The last time I cleaned the boots at the training ground was the day after the Fleetwood match in March 2020. I’ve not been back to there since.

‘Things have to be put into place to help us all, it has been a nasty 18 months, and I’m just grateful I never copped Covid.

‘Andy Cullen recently came up to me after the Plymouth game to tell me how the club were hopeful I could be back in October, which was very good of him to say.

‘Hopefully I’ll be back sooner rather than later.’

Harris has continued to be present at Fratton Park this season, albeit as a supporter watching from the South Stand.

Meanwhile, on October 28, he will be staging another of his popular Evening With Barry Harris events, taking place at the Rifle Club (7.30pm).

The Blues’ boot man will be taking questions from the audience, with a Pompey quiz and raffle also part of what should be an enjoying night.

Tickets are priced £10 and available from https://book.events/pompey/2021-10-28/21563

Harris added: ‘Mr Cullen has given me a season ticket, which I thought was very kind.

‘I’m in the A section of the South Stand, right in line with the Fratton End penalty area, it’s a really good view.

‘Since 1965, I’ve been sat in the dug-out, so it’s very different sitting with fans. Sometimes I can't get my head around what they’re talking about!

‘But they are wonderful supporters, all the same.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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