The Portsmouth players making a difference in times of adversity - and making us proud of them
The accolades have arrived in their numbers and been richly deserved.
At a time of adversity, Pompey’s squad have mobilised throughout the community as a galvanising force for good.
In a period when the stereotyping of footballers as self-interested and lacking in consideration has gathered pace in some quarters, the Blues playing staff have taken those sentiments and rammed them back down the throats of their detractors. Government ministers and all.
These men may be paid to do the business on the pitch, but it’s their efforts off it which have seen the plaudits gather in volume.
That’s not their motivation, of course, but for those of a royal blue persuasion who could remember when their club’s name was a dirty word it’s quite rightly a rich source of pride.
Chrstian Burgess’ voluntary work has been front and centre and the time he’s donated to helping those in need amid the coronavirus crisis has been widely saluted.
But to focus solely on Burgess would be to ignore the generosity of Kenny Jackett’s squad - every single one of them.
The first-team set-up have been unsparing with both their time and money, after John Marquis set up a fund to help those in need.
The outcome has been one to lift the spirits and offer support to those who require it most
Burgess said: ‘The boys have got together and generously donated their own money.
‘We got a pot together and that was led by John, who collected all the money.
‘It wasn’t mandatory but everyone contributed to the fund and that was great to see.
‘There was no minimum amount - it was donate what you want and we’ll do something positive with it.
‘The volunteering’s been really good and the boys have found it really rewarding.
‘People are really pleased to see them and it’s a valuable service the boys have provided.
‘They’ve kept themselves busy but they’re giving something back because they realise what a tough time it is at the moment and people are struggling.
‘We’re in a position where we have some flexibility and the club have been great with us.
‘All the boys have been really keen to help and wanted to do something.
‘But also the general public have been fantastic and we’ve met some really good people. They’ve been a joy to be with.’
The unified approach of the Pompey players in going about their charitable work has been uplifting for supporters to see and hear about, although personal circumstances have restricted some players from operating at the coal face in recent weeks.
Burgess, Marquis, Cameron McGeehan, Ben Close, Andy Cannon, Tom Naylor and Sean Raggett have all got stuck into various ventures, however, around the city.
The Pompey donation fund has been shared considerately to the good causes in what has become a true community effort.
Burgess added: ‘We decided some of it should go to the NHS Portsmouth Hospitals Thank You appeal at QA Hospital.
‘Some of it went to organising care packages for disabled supporters, alongside the work of Clare (Martin) and Pompey In The Community (PITC).
‘An amount was given to lift their spirits and was delivered by quite a few of the boys.
‘I know Cameron, John, Ben and Andy and Nayls as well as myself did that.
‘The other part of the money went to providing food and food packages at the PITC base at The Hive in Landport.
‘Rags has been doing some stuff at the kitchen with me and Cam and also food deliveries with The Hive.
‘Obviously it’s a valuable thing that The Hive, PITC and Enable Ability are doing, as well as being supported by the Queen’s Hotel and Akash in Southsea.
‘Some of that went to LunchBank PO9, which is a food bank and some went to PITC to deliver throughout Portsmouth.
‘It’s a tough time right now. There’s a lot of elderly people who are at heightened risk and finding it hard to get out anyway. They now have all these extra worries, which can be draining.
‘People are shielding too, it must be terribly tough and our hearts go out to them.
‘I don’t think I’ve actually been noticed when I’m doing food packages. The disabled supporters were season-ticket holders so knew us.
‘But that’s not really what it’s all about. We’re just happy to give our time and do something to help.’