The stunning Portsmouth transfer window which created history - and how ambitious Blues must emulate it

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It was the stunning transfer window which laid the foundations for Pompey creating history while capturing two pieces of silverware.

The magnificent summer of 2015 comfortably represents the Blues’ finest recruitment drive since Harry Redknapp’s golden years.

Now Rich Hughes and John Mousinho will be challenged to perform similar heroics seven years later as the Fratton Park transformation gets underway.

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Pompey are targeting securing 9-10 new signings over the duration of the window which opened today – five weeks since the 2022-23 campaign ended.

And the Fratton faithful will be hoping it can prove as successful as Paul Cook’s opening months in charge following his May 2015 arrival from Chesterfield.

Indeed, the bulk of the 14 players recruited that summer claimed the League Two title in 2016-17, thereby becoming only the fifth club in history to win all four English divisions.

In addition, some were still around to secure the Checkatrade Trophy in March 2019 under Kenny Jackett.

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Cook paid transfer fees for three of those 14 players – Kal Naismith, Gary Roberts and Christian Burgess.

Kyle Bennett was Paul Cook's first signing as Pompey boss - and two years later netted in the May 2017 hammering of Cheltenham which captured the League Two title. Picture: Harry Murphy/Getty Images.Kyle Bennett was Paul Cook's first signing as Pompey boss - and two years later netted in the May 2017 hammering of Cheltenham which captured the League Two title. Picture: Harry Murphy/Getty Images.
Kyle Bennett was Paul Cook's first signing as Pompey boss - and two years later netted in the May 2017 hammering of Cheltenham which captured the League Two title. Picture: Harry Murphy/Getty Images.

The rest were free agents, loans and former triallists as he assembled a squad still cherished to this very day.

Pompey’s newly-appointed boss made Kyle Bennett his first signing, arriving from League One Doncaster in May 2015, nine days into his Fratton reign.

Next was Kal Naismith, out of contract at Accrington, with the Blues paying £40,000 compensation as the former Rangers attacker was aged under 23.

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Then, in June 2015, arrived a flurry of signings, five in 10 days to be precise, as Cook’s overhaul gathered rapid momentum.

Paul Cook oversaw Pompey's pivotal transfer window in the summer of 2015. Picture: Harry Murphy/Getty ImagesPaul Cook oversaw Pompey's pivotal transfer window in the summer of 2015. Picture: Harry Murphy/Getty Images
Paul Cook oversaw Pompey's pivotal transfer window in the summer of 2015. Picture: Harry Murphy/Getty Images

Enda Stevens, a former Doncaster team-mate of Bennett, came on a free transfer from Aston Villa, keen to resurrect a career in danger of stalling after four successive loan spells.

Next it was the long-expected signing of Gary Roberts, reuniting with his former Chesterfield boss, albeit requiring a fee to secure his services.

Adam Barton and Adam McGurk arrived on the same day, both free agents, although subsequently lasted little longer than a year at Fratton Park before departing.

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Completing that prolific period, central defender Burgess joined from Peterborough for an undisclosed fee following a season in League One.

Cook wasn’t done, however, and, in July, Michael Doyle, who had been trialling at Fratton Park, turned down Hibernian to pen a deal with the Blues.

Jayden Stockley arrived on loan from Bournemouth, while promising triallist Ben Tollett, who had appeared in a friendly against the Hawks, was snapped up.

Gareth Evans had trialled for three weeks and played four friendlies before finally handed a 12-month deal - and would end up remaining for the next five years.

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Days later, Matt Clarke, a teenage centre-half who had appeared in the Championship with Ipswich, landed on a season-long loan having impressed after training with the Blues.

Meanwhile, another triallist, right-back Ben Davies earned his contract two days before the start of the 2015-16 season, despite featuring regularly in pre-season fixtures.

It was even later for goalkeeper Brian Murphy, joining 24 hours before the opener against Dagenham & Redbridge, having featured in a friendly at Woking.

Indeed, Murphy was the last of those signings in the summer of 2015, of which 10 were subsequently granted Pompey debuts in that 3-0 success over the Daggers, with Bennett (two) and Evans netting.

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In May 2017, on an emotional day against Cheltenham, Cook’s men were crowned League Two title winners, with eight of those recruits featuring in that historic 6-1 success.

Then, approaching two years later, Clarke, Evans and Burgess were the survivors when Pompey captured the Checkatrade Trophy in a penalty shoot-out win over Sunderland at Wembley in March 2019.

All thanks to one pivotal transfer window in 2015.