How Charlton, Leeds, Wolves and Sheffield United generously benefited from Portsmouth's wretched Player of the Season jinx - but thankfully no more

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Upon his coronation, Enda Stevens opted not to take his The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season trophy home.

Presented on the Fratton Park pitch before the final match of the 2016-17 campaign to Cheltenham, the classy left-back was aware the occasion also represented his last Pompey outing.

A free-transfer switch to Sheffield United was lined-up, he was moving on, thereby the title-clinching match would signal a remarkable Blues swansong.

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Instead the trophy remained at Fratton Park until supporters crowned the next worthy recipient 12 months later.

The Fratton faithful are accustomed to seeing their player of the season departing, it has become an irritating summer tradition.

In the previous 13 years, a staggering eight players awarded the trophy have immediately left Pompey.

That includes three in a row in recent times – Matt Clarke, Christian Burgess and Craig MacGillivray.

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Sean Raggett has ended The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season jinx - and is staying at Fratton Park. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImagesSean Raggett has ended The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season jinx - and is staying at Fratton Park. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages
Sean Raggett has ended The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season jinx - and is staying at Fratton Park. Picture: Jason Brown/ProSportsImages

The out-of-contract 28-year-old provided an early summer boost by pledging his future to Danny Cowley’s team and on Friday signed a fresh two-year deal.

Finally, a recipient of The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season is remaining to defend the honour.

It defies what is recognised by many fans as a long-standing jinx.

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Back in 2008-09, Glen Johnson was deservedly given the accolade as Pompey finished 14th in the Premier League, before moving to Liverpool in June 2009 for a fee of around £17m.

The following year, Jamie O’Hara swept the honours during Premier League relegation, yet was on a season-long loan from Spurs.

Hayden Mullins was named as The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season in 2010-11 and was still around the following season – unlike Jason Pearce after him.

Pearce, who had twice been on Pompey’s books as a youngster, was signed from Bournemouth, eventually given the captaincy, crowned player of the season, and then departed, all within 12 months.

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In fairness, it was out of his hands, with administrator Trevor Birch selling off Blues playing assets to keep the club afloat, with Pearce heading to Leeds.

During relegation to League Two in 2012-13, Johnny Ertl earned the honour, with Ricky Holmes receiving it in 2013-14.

Both remained on the south coast, although Holmes did leave midway through the following campaign after joining Northampton in January 2014 having fallen out of favour.

The jinx next claimed Jed Wallace, who was recognised on the final day of the 2014-15 campaign against York, before leaving for Championship Wolves shortly afterwards.

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Inspirational captain Michael Doyle was chosen by fans in 2015-16 and thank goodness was still around to lead Paul Cook’s side to the League Two title the following year.

However, the 2016-17 nominee, Stevens, did leave after that 6-1 triumph over Cheltenham in May 2017 which secured the silverware.

Clarke was crowned for two years running (2017-18 and 2018-19) before leaving for Brighton in June 2019, while an out-of-contract Burgess (2019-20) embarked on a fresh challenge at Royale Union Saint Gilloise.

Finally, MacGillivray (2020-21) was turned away by Pompey last summer, the club electing not to take up his option, instead prompting the free agent to sign for Charlton.

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Still, thanks to Raggett’s display of commitment, the wretched curse has at last been broken. For now.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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