'The manager was sacked the day I joined Portsmouth - it began three bosses in my opening 83 days' - Chris Burns

The boss who recruited him to Pompey was sacked the day he signed, while he totalled three managers in his opening 83 days at Fratton Park.

Friday, 30th April 2021, 9:00 am
Jim Smith was Chris Burns' third Pompey boss in his opening 83 days at the club. Picture: Mike Egerton/Empics

Welcome to the Football League, Chris Burns.

However, after invited for a trial by Frank Burrows, the Blues boss was dismissed on Burns’ third day at the club.

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Chris Burns' lifelong Pompey affinity often see him return to Fratton Park for ex-player days. Picture: Joe Pepler

Regardless, the 23-year-old signed a two-year deal, with reserve-team boss Tony Barton taking over as caretaker for the remaining 12 matches of the season.

Then Jim Smith arrived at Pompey in June 1991 – yet this manager would outlast Burns’ own time on the south coast.

He told The News: ‘I arrived on the Monday – and Frank Burrows had left by the Wednesday morning!

‘Thankfully, by the time of his sacking, they had already decided they’d sign me so I signed that day.

‘Tony Barton had taken over and said to me “Go and get yourself up to Gloucester and sort out a few things. Be back down here on Monday”. So I returned to the south coast with my wife, Bev, and four-month-old son Jake.

‘Then Jim Smith arrived in the summer and played me in our first friendly, which was at Dorchester in July 1991.

‘My mindset was getting a couple of first-team games would be brilliant. Then suddenly he started playing me in all the friendlies and I’m thinking: “I’ve got a chance here, keep your feet on the ground”.

‘It all needed freshening up and that’s why we went to Blackburn on the open day of the season and he put five of us in there. We drew 1-1.

‘Jim called me into the office and told me “I want you to take it five games at a time. You’re in the team for five games, try to stay in there for the next five”.

‘Me and Andy Awford used to say: “We’ve been in now for seven matches, three more and he might let us stay in even longer!”.

‘That first year I was there they’d call me “Chrissy Smith”, son of Jim.

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‘You don’t take anything for granted, you just can’t. You have to remember there’s always someone else who wants that shirt.’

Youngsters Burns, Awford, Kit Symons, Darren Anderton and Darryl Powell were all blooded in Pompey’s opener for the 1991-92 campaign at Blackburn.

Burns, Symons and Awford would go on to make more appearances than everyone else that season as the Blues reached the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool.

Now aged 53, Burns added: ‘Me and Martin Kuhl were the work horses. He was a great guy who helped me a lot.

‘Martin would sit and Jim wanted me to bomb into the box and get on the end of things because I was quite a big lad. Luckily, a few times I found myself in the right place at the right time and scored a few headers.

‘I wasn’t as gifted as some of them, but every team needs a water carrier.

‘I made a nuisance of myself, going up and down, getting in the way, getting into the box. Martin was a bit more settled, he had been at big clubs before, while I was a rookie, running around on adrenaline most of the time.

‘I still always say to Darren (Anderton): “I made you a good player. You went to Tottenham on the back of me and Martin Kuhl giving you the ball!”.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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