Ton up for Pompey’s century men

Gabor Gyepes and Paul Benson
Gabor Gyepes and Paul Benson
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The significance would, of course, have been lost on Marcus Bean and Matt Fish.

In truth, the moment would have also escaped the attention of the vast majority of the Fratton faithful. Perhaps all of them.

Yet, against Morecambe, Pompey reached a landmark.

Nothing to be proud about mind. More a reflection of the procession of managers who have marched through Fratton Park in recent times.

That and the result of the financial strangulation applied by a queue of owners and administrators.

You see, since August 6, 2011, the Blues have handed debuts to 100 players.

Million pound signings, player exchanges, free agents, loanees, home-grown talent, an assistant manager, they are all contained within that triple figure.

Especially loans – a mighty 33 of them in three-and-a-half seasons as dictated by circumstances.

But before dismissing it as a trivial statistic – which it clearly is – reflect on the implications.

Spare a thought for the poor supporters who have witnessed a new player in the first team on average every nine days during a season.

Shed a tear for those fumbling around remembering the name of fresh Blues blood every 1.73 matches.

As for those who favour sporting a player’s name on the back of their shirt, let’s just hope they opted for temporary transfers.

Few of that century of players have left a favourable impact on Fratton Park, many you will have forgotten even existed.

Such an immense turnover of footballers will always be intrinsically linked with failure, a stamped passport to disaster. It stands to reason.

The period has also seen Pompey employ five different managers. Inevitably, each with their own desire to overhaul a squad inherited.

In terms of Blues bows since August 2011, there have been Jed Wallace, David Norris, Jason Pearce, Izale McLeod, Darel Russell, Gabor Gyepes, Patrick Agyemang, Liam Walker, Simon Ferry, Ryan Bird, Craig Westcarr and Paul Jones to name a mere few.

Others are a little less familiar, whose name may strike a pang of recognition, although their face certainly won’t.

Take slightly-built winger Luca Scapuzzi, who appeared twice for the Blues in May 2012 after being signed by Michael Appleton on loan from Manchester City.

Those two substitute outings would total only 16 minutes and – having been unused from the bench for four successive games – he soon asked to leave in order to play regularly.

Steve Cotterill brought free-agent Christian Dailly to Fratton Park and the veteran defender even appeared as a substitute in the 2011-12 curtain raiser at Middlesbrough.

The ex-Scotland international then started the Carling Cup 1-0 home defeat to Barnet, which would prove to be his final outing, and was released once August was over.

Perhaps the most inglorious Pompey farewell was Gavin Mahon, who never played again following a straight red card after elbowing Stevenage’s Filipe Morais in a 2-1 FA Cup defeat.

The veteran midfielder, who at the time was in the second month of his stay, totalled three appearances, of which two were starts.

Mind you, Kieran Djilali signed a one-month deal and was shown the door by Appleton after a mighty two weeks.

The young winger had featured for the Blues in pre-season and started the 2012-13 League One opener against Bournemouth – his first and last appearance.

Upon his release, Appleton explained: ‘He probably wasn’t any fitter now than he was when he first came into the football club.’

Chelsea loanee Conor Clifford was a highly-regarded midfielder who would spend just a month at Pompey, chalking up three substitute appearances.

Still, at least he scored on his away debut in a 4-2 defeat at Carlisle on his way to totalling 55 minutes during a brief south coast stay.

With Alex Cisak, fate conspired to rob the Blues of his services rather than the keeper not being of the required quality.

Having produced a man-of-the-match debut in a 1-1 draw at Coventry in November 2012, parent club Oldham invoked a 24-hours recall clause following the sending off of their number one keeper.

Frankie Sutherland made his Football League bow as a sub against Hartlepool in January 2013 during a loan spell from QPR.

Featuring for 27 minutes, it was his only appearance – he didn’t even see out the month.

Hands up all those who recall Bjorn Helge Riise, brother of John Arne, spending two loan months at Fratton Park during the 2011-12 campaign?

He started two games and then spent life on the bench before disappearing back to Fulham.

Other blink and you missed them presences were Abdul Razak, Akos Buzsaky, Jordan Obita, Kevin Long, Rhys McCabe, Dan Potts, Paul Benson and Adam Reed.

There have been success stories, of course, such as George Thorne, Joe Mattock, Toumani Diagouraga, Gyepes, Wes Thomas, Trevor Carson and James Dunne.

While at Plymouth in the Capital One Cup in August 2012 there were 11 Pompey debutants in a starting line-up with the average age of 19.9 years.

Among those making their bows that day were Wallace, Jack Maloney, Bradley Tarbuck and Dan Butler, with Jack Whatmough an unused substitute.

Still we move on and today is likely to see Lee Holmes become debutant number 101.

It remains to be seen whether this one will be remembered.