Wembley-bound Mark Stimson using former Pompey room-mate Alan McLoughlin as inspiration for FA Trophy glory

Alan McLoughlin’s legacy is adding further fuel to the FA Trophy fire of former Pompey room-mate Mark Stimson.

By Mark McMahon
Friday, 21st May 2021, 7:00 pm
Former Pompey favourite Alan McLoughlin
Former Pompey favourite Alan McLoughlin

And ex-Fratton Park left-back Stimson hopes his own Hornchurch players can channel the one-time Blues midfielder’s goalscoring Cup heroics when they descend on Wembley Way tomorrow.

Urchins boss Stimson played over 50 games for Pompey and was a close friend of club legend McLoughlin, who tragically died of cancer aged just 54 this month.

Stimson, 53, shared a room with the Republic of Ireland ace during his time at PO4 and is now preparing to lead his Hornchurch troops into battle against Hereford in the FA Trophy final.

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Former Pompey defender Mark Stimson will take his Hornchurch side to Wembley to take on Hereford in the FA Trophy final Picture: Harry O'Reilly/Beat Media

Stimson paid a heartfelt tribute to the Hall-of-Famer – who made 361 Blues appearances and scored 68 times – and says a fifth FA Trophy triumph of his career would be the perfect way to do McLoughlin proud.

The Hornchurch chief, whose team play in the Pitching In Isthmian League premier division, said: ‘Alan was my room partner at Portsmouth and it was really tragic when he passed away.

‘I’ve got a few fond memories of him. One that really sticks out in my mind was Portsmouth versus Blackburn Rovers away in the FA Cup.

‘At the time, Blackburn were top of the Premier League with Alan Shearer, Chris Sutton, Stuart Ripley, Jason Wilcox, David]Batty and Tim Sherwood – just to name a few.

‘We went there with our Pompey team, took about 4,000 supporters and drew 3-3. Alan McLoughlin scored a hat-trick from midfield.

‘That just shows you what type of player he was – an attacking player with an eye for goal. He had good, good banter and was a lovely man. It’s such a shame that he passed away.

‘I send love to his family – rest in peace Alan.’

Pompey went on to lose the replay of that 1993-94 third-round clash 3-1, but Stimson – who also starred for Newcastle and Southend during a successful playing career – will never forget that day at Ewood Park.

McLoughlin’s death came as a shock to the footballing world and the Urchins chief is using his memories of the marauding midfielder – who also racked up 42 caps for the Republic of Ireland – as motivation for this weekend’s Wembley showpiece.

Hornchurch have toppled Notts County, Darlington and King’s Lynn on a thrilling run to the final and will now bid to lower the colours of National League North side Hereford in front of 6,000 supporters.

The seventh-tier outfit were visited by former England captain Stuart Pearce – currently No.2 to David Moyes at West Ham – in the build-up to the clash as the fiery left-back delivered a rousing rallying cry to Stimson’s troops.

The former Blues defender is relishing a crack at Wembley nirvana and reckons victory under the arch would begin a summer to savour.

Stimson, who has led Grays Athletic – twice – and Stevenage to FA Trophy glory as a manager, added: ‘I can’t believe I’m back there. It would be great if I could go and win it again.

‘Most importantly, I want the boys to go to there, play the way they’ve played and really enjoy the day.

‘What would it mean? It would be history and the first time it’s happened to Hornchurch. N-one can take that away from you.

We know it’s going to be a tough ask because Hereford are a good side. But if we get our hands on it, we’ll enjoy it – I’m sure the local community will enjoy it and it will be a special summer.’Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: entaingroup.com/sustainability/pitching-in/