The interview Pompey fans needed to witness

As journalists, we are afforded a privileged insight to the main players at Fratton Park.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 19th May 2016, 10:00 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:18 pm
Paul Cook has showcased an ability to rouse and rally which is the hallmark of any strong leader    Picture: Joe Pepler
Paul Cook has showcased an ability to rouse and rally which is the hallmark of any strong leader Picture: Joe Pepler

Sometimes you just wish the everyday Pompey fan could be given the same access.

If they did, they’d almost certainly be feeling a bit better about life at the moment.

Boarding the Blues rollercoaster isn’t a decision to be made lightly.

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We all know now it’s a white-knuckle journey fraught with twists, turns and bumps to go with adrenalin-pumping highs.

Now Home Park 2016 provides up with another low ebb to the voyage.

And this was a low.

When it comes to writing opinion pieces, we tend to distance ourselves from writing in the first person. It can come across as self-indulgent.

On this occasion, though, we’ll make an exception.

As the full-time whistle condemned Pompey to a fourth season in English football’s basement tier, I felt sick. Physically sick.

As Plymouth fans streamed across the pitch and even into the press box to celebrate, I felt disappointed, saddened and frustrated.

I felt like every single one of the 1,700 or so Pompey supporters in south Devon flattened by the stoppage-time goal. I felt the same pain echoed by fans watching back at home and around the world.

Fortunately, I had the pressure of turning around a match report to take my attention away from the party in the periphery of my vision as I thumped at my laptop’s keyboard.

There was more nausea to come, and that wasn’t just from trying to file further reports in the back of the car taking the winding coastal route back to Portsmouth.

Arriving back well after the midnight hour, I then made the decision of going to bed as soon as I walked through the door. Wrong move.

After a sleepless night at the prospect of returning to Morecambe next season, I ended up going to work the next morning struggling with a hangover despite not touching a drop.

It was at this stage, with the reality of the season’s failure still seeping in, the press corps were summoned to Pompey’s Roko training ground.

After defeat, Paul Cook had eschewed his press responsibilities with the message emerging no players or coaching staff were conducting post-match duties.

It was a disappointing reaction, with fans deserving to hear a voice from the dressing room.

But the lunchtime after the night before provided us with the clearest reasons for the no show.

As the Pompey boss gave his thoughts on what unfolded, he was asked by departing Express FM commentator, Dan Windle, about a post-matching meeting with a young Blues mascot.

Emotion built in the Scouser as he relayed how he told the young fan he’d let him down. Tears welled in his eyes.

It was a poignant moment. One which showed this was a man feeling the raw pain of the loss as much as any of us.

What followed was a long, searching and ultimately uplifting exchange with the man in the Fratton hot seat.

Not a single question on the failings of the campaign, his own future and the road forward was dodged.

It proved an honest and therapeutic experience, one which kick-started the healing process.

Cook’s hunger to see the job through and how those plans are in already in motion saw a shaft of light break through a dark moment.

He also showcased an ability to rouse and rally which is the hallmark of any strong leader.

It was the kind of emancipating interaction you’d like to broadcast to the Pompey masses on the big screen at Guildhall Square. One which convinces Cook’s the right man to take this club forward.