Four brothers, one club - the Maloney family's record-breaking Portsmouth dynasty
Jack Maloney wasn’t present to witness his brother’s goal-scoring entrance into the Pompey record books.
Cams Alders instead held the attention of the attacking midfielder, as his Horndean side slumped to 3-0 defeat at Fareham to thwart aspirations of rising to third in the Wessex Premier Division.
There was also the ignominy of being banished to the sin bin for 10 second-half minutes following dissent towards referee Mark Shapland.
Still, 10 miles away at Fratton Park, another member of the Maloney family netted his maiden Blues goal in the 2-1 Leasing.com Trophy victory over Northampton.
On the occasion of his fifth first-team appearance, left-winger Leon levelled on 39 minutes, stooping to make headed connect with Marcus Harness’ cross from the right, the ball helped on its way into the net through a deflection off Scott Wharton.
A crowd of 2,413 were present to witness the latest accomplishment of a remarkable footballing dynasty proudly steeped in the Isle of Wight.
Leon is in fine company, one of four Maloney brothers to have represented Pompey at differing levels.
Eldest son Jack totalled 11 outings after handed his debut by Michael Appleton at the age of 17 years, eight months and seven days in August 2012.
Appearing as substitute, it was the infamous Capital One Cup match at Plymouth which saw nine players make their senior debuts, among them Jed Wallace, Dan Butler, Sam Magri and Bradley Tarbuck.
Then there’s Josh, released by Pompey at the age of 16, who this season has represented Chichester, while the 22-year-old was an unused substitute for Horndean in last weekend’s 4-1 victory over Bournemouth Poppies.
Next is Louis, another not retained by the Blues having climbed through the ranks and, at 17, is the youngest of the four.
And finally there is 18-year-old Leon, who created club history in January 2019 when granted a debut at Southend in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Following in the footsteps of Jack, remarkably they became the first brothers in more than 80 years to play Pompey first-team football.
Leon smiled: ‘My dad, Carl, can’t play, can’t kick a ball, but loves football, he’s a big Leeds fan.
‘When Jack was young, dad was the manager of his team at Oakfield, we were in and around that growing up, each of us getting better and better.
‘We must have good genes – but we always say it has to be from our mum, Selina, because it can’t be from dad! Honestly, it’s weird.
‘This family is non-stop, one leaves Pompey and another comes along, that’s how it feels, we’re all attacking players too, no-one is defensive.
‘Basically, if you are from the Isle of Wight and into football, your objective is to get off the island and go somewhere.
‘There is no professional team over there, so if you are good at football you have to get away, which means coming over to Pompey and teams around them.
‘Jake Scrimshaw is a striker from the Isle of Wight and my age, who is doing well at Bournemouth and last season was named their under-18 Player of the Year.
‘You see loads of young footballers on the ferry coming across, all you are doing is trying to be the best you can to get off it.
‘I’ve been with Pompey since the under-10s, that’s nine years now, and I’m loving it.’
Jack Maloney blazed a trail across the Solent that his brothers would subsequently follow.
Turning 25 on Sunday, he emerged through the Fratton Park ranks during an era when the club was entrenched in administration and fighting to avoid liquidation.
As a consequence, the Blues looked towards youth, with caretaker boss Guy Whittingham handing him regular first-team involvement towards the end of the 2012-13 campaign.
While Leon has yet to make his Football League debut, his oldest brother featured in nine of the final 10 League One fixtures of that relegation season, while started on the left wing in a 1-0 victory over Tranmere in April 2013.
The following year, caretaker boss Andy Awford granted the wide man his final Pompey outing in a 2-1 home defeat to Southend in November 2013.
He was released in March 2015, before swiftly snapped up by the Rocks to enter non-league residency on a permanent basis.
Leon added: ‘When trying to be a pro, Jack took his foot off the gas in footballing terms, now he just enjoys it at Horndean, where he is kind of a lead figure and one of the better players in the division.
‘He got his chance when Pompey were struggling for players against Plymouth. Ashley Westwood was injured after 34 minutes, so Jack came off the bench as a 17-year-old and it went from there.
‘He made a few appearances in the league to be fair, but at the end of the season the club became a bit more stable, he went out on loan to Aldershot, Lewes and Poole and it didn’t quite work out for him.
‘I'm now trying to make it just as far as he did, hopefully further, and he offers advice, particularly what he would have done if he could return to that time.
‘It didn’t quite work out for Jack and he looks back at what he needed to have done as a player – and what I should now do. He talks about his fitness, working on his weaker foot, little things like which help me out.
‘All us brothers talk about football, mum goes a bit mad I think!’
The four brothers were each discovered by the late Roger North, whose long-standing community sessions on the Isle of Wight were a prolific source of talent for Pompey. His son, Shaun, remains involved in the Academy set-up at Fratton Park.
Then, when Leon was aged 13, the three youngest Maloney brothers and their mum left the family home in Well Street, Ryde, to relocate to Portsmouth, a move which eased the travelling burden considerably.
It meant leaving behind the Ryde Academy – and his school friend Joe Hancott – to enrol at Mayfield School, albeit the pair keeping in touch through youth-rank progression.
But there is another brother.
Leon said: ‘There’s Larry, who is aged five and has just joined Pickwick Youth.
‘It’s more for pleasure, he’s just playing for fun. If you’ve got it, you’ve got it, we’ll have to wait and see when he gets older.’