‘Ground to swallow you up.’ Sheffield Wednesday striker relives suffering caused by own Portsmouth fans as ex-Rotherham United and Swindon Town man endured Fratton ignominy

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Michael Smith has relived the day his own fans sarcastically turned on him during his Pompey hell.

But the Sheffield Wednesday striker insisted suffering his Fratton ignominy helped make him the striking threat he is today.

Smith endured a difficult 18 months with the Blues, after initially arriving on loan from Swindon in 2016. Pompey fans failed to take the front man under Paul Cook, with the 31-year-old returning seven goals in 34 league appearances.

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The front man’s woes culminated on a grim January afternoon at the start of 2017 against Exeter, in a 1-0 defeat for the Blues.

Cook responded to fans pressure to play two strikers, by moving to a 4-4-2 formation he had no conviction in. Ugly scenes followed in a toxic 1-0 defeat, with Smith in the firing line after missing a chance and then being withdrawn.

It was cheers which greeted the Geordie striker’s number being held up - in what was to be his final Pompey appearance. Smith admitted the experience proved a painful one for him, at a low point before Cook’s side stormed to League Two title success.

‘The whole place erupted,' Smith told the Sheffield Star of the grim occasion. 'It was like we’d scored a goal.’

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‘You just want the ground to swallow you up, I was a young lad away from my family and living by myself. That side of it was so tough. I’m glad I have come out of the other end now and looking back now I’m thankful for it, I wouldn’t be the man or player I am now.

Michael Smith endured a tough stay at Pompey. Picture: Joe PeplerMichael Smith endured a tough stay at Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Smith endured a tough stay at Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘It was tough – I was a young lad and it wasn’t nice. But like I say, in a weird way I’m sort of thankful for it now because I wouldn’t be as mentally strong and in the place I am now. I feel a lot mentally stronger for those experiences.

‘It’s mad in a way because I really did love living down there. I had family on the south coast and I loved playing at Fratton Park, while the fans were behind me. It’s one of those things. I’ve been around football long enough now to realise fans take to some players and don’t take to other players, there’s no hard feelings from my end.’