What's needed for Pompey fans to fulfil Cook's belief

He believes you'll be back.

Thursday, 26th May 2016, 9:00 am
Updated Thursday, 26th May 2016, 2:13 pm
Pompey boss Paul Cook shows his appreciation to the Fratton faithful Picture: Joe Pepler

But will you? Is the hunger still there to back the Paul Cook era in the same numbers?

The Pompey boss yesterday voiced a conviction in The News fans will return ahead of the release of season tickets next Wednesday.

It’s a statement which could be construed as presumptuous, of taking an unstinting loyalty for granted.

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The emotion behind it, however, was one of a continually developing appreciation of the backing he and his players are afforded.

‘You can’t give enough superlatives to our supporters,’ Cook said, with genuine admiration.

He is fully aware, however, he is the man who has to give them reason to return over the summer.

And it’s a burden he readily takes on his shoulders.

‘I do,’ Cook admitted when asked if he feels that weight of responsibility. ‘If I went home, sulked and went on holiday for two weeks it’d be easy.

‘And do what? Bury my head and say it’s going to be alright next year?’

Blues fans are quite rightly unhappy at the prospect of a fourth season in England’s basement tier.

But, the majority have avoided hysteria at that disappointment with a level-headed acknowledgement of the progress made.

There should have been progress, too. The Pompey transfer budget was among the top couple of war chests afforded League Two sides.

‘Making it right’, though means giving tangible reasons for optimism. And that, of course, means signings.

So far, the impending departure of Adam Webster has been the only news to report. That healthy cash boost – of well in excess of £500,000 – comes with Matt Clarke’s robust attributes being added permanently.

Cook was already looking to pay fees for players. A £50,000 here and £75,000 there. Maybe now his horizons have been broadened with that sale.

Of course, we’ve been here before.

The excitement which builds across the summer is a perennial emotion for Pompey fans. Hope springs eternal, and all that.

That is borne out in the impressive season-ticket sales since the Blues fell into League Two.

The emergence as a community club created an impetus which saw 10,660 season tickets shifted in the 2013-14 campaign.

Five wins and two draws as Andy Awford carried the club to safety saw that continue 12 months later. Sales increased by 387 to 11,047.

And, despite the disappointment of two failed attempts at getting out of the division, the figure again topped 11,000 last term.

It’s a commendable devotion, but is it also a finite one?

The club are doing everything to ensure that’s not the case.

Freezing season tickets for a fourth consecutive season is impressive, as is seeing a 22-year-old man now getting a Young Person’s season ticket for as little as £199 – or £8.65 a game.

The top whack for an adult still sees them paying just £13.91 per game or £320 for the season.

No wonder Pompey Supporters’ Trust vice chair, Pam Wilkins, feels fans could have little to complain about after the release of prices last Saturday.

Wilkins, a fixture at the Trust bus on match-days, spends her life around the club and its followers and is a decent barometer to gauge the mood.

She feels the backing will remain in and around the same figure as this term. ‘Maybe we’ll drop a few, but I think most people will be back,’ Wilkins said.

Ultimately, for that to happen, though, there needs to be an optimism at what lies ahead – and Cook is abundantly aware of that.

‘We have to go out and make it right,’ he said. ‘My job now is give those supporters what they need to see.’

Yes, build it, Cookie, and they will come.