Portsmouth's finest youth team, but we were a troublesome group - Lee Smith

Containing two future internationals and a Pompey Hall-of-Famer, they are regarded as the club’s finest youth team.

Saturday, 15th June 2019, 12:00 pm
Pompey's FA Youth Cup team pictured before the March 1990 elimination of Liverpool. Back row, from left: Paul Daughtry, Darren Cheverton, Alan Knott, Shane Davies, Chris Male, Darryl Powell. Front, from left: Mike Turner, Andy Awford, Darren Anderton, Stuart Doling, Lee Smith, Micky Ross

But a member of that talented 1988-90 crop, Lee Smith, admits they were also the Blues’ most troublesome group.

Smith this week saw his former Southampton youth coach Bob Higgins, 66, imprisoned for 24 years and three months for indecently assaulting 24 boys.

After later joining Pompey, the Landport lad featured at left wing-back for that outstanding young side which famously toppled Liverpool in the FA Youth Cup in March 1990.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Malcolm Beard’s side ultimately lost to Middlesborough in the semi-finals, but such progress has still to be equalled.

Smith said: ‘We were quite a troublesome bunch, but there was a hell of a lot of talent there.

‘On one occasion, the Fratton End had been knocked down, it was like a building site around there, all rubble. So we created a person, wearing trousers and overalls, and buried it in there.

‘We then went over to the kitman, Gordon Neave, and shouted “Someone’s buried in the rubble”. He came running out and started to get this person out before realising!

‘Another time we were cleaning the North Stand, there had been a game the night before, and decided to mess around with a fire hose, spraying each other.

‘Micky Ross had it in his hands and, as he was firing it, the first-team manager John Gregory walked up the stairs and got on the receiving end. He was drenched!

‘That was us, though, troublesome, but developed a really close bond which made us into the team we were.’

That squad contained Andy Awford, future internationals Darren Anderton (England) and Darryl Powell (Jamaica), as well as Stuart Doling, Micky Ross and Russell Perrett.

Smith added: ‘I definitely didn’t think Darren would make it!

‘We’d heard who was getting taken on as apprentices and Darren’s name was never mentioned. Then, out of the blue, his name was brought into it two or three weeks later and we couldn’t understand why.

‘There was always something about Darren, though. He ended up overtaking all the lads, he was the best player by far by the time our second-year apprenticeship came to an end.’