Hall has finally been listened to

POMPEY_MP 26/5/10''Mike Hall, speaking a a meeting of SOS Pomey. Meeting at The Rifle Club, Goldsmith Ave, Portsmouth.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (101644-444)
POMPEY_MP 26/5/10''Mike Hall, speaking a a meeting of SOS Pomey. Meeting at The Rifle Club, Goldsmith Ave, Portsmouth.''Picture: Allan Hutchings (101644-444)

For many, it was a grand entrance on Sky Sports News two-and-a-half years ago.

There stood a clearly agitated Beatle-bobbed, John Denver facsimile being interviewed by Brian Swanson at the Eastleigh training ground.

For the next five minutes, he proceeded to savage Balram Chainrai, Levi Kushnir, Peter Storrie and Mark Jacob.

‘We want them out of our football club’ came the eloquent message from the highly-irritated interviewee.

Come the end of the broadcast, attention switched to the studio where Natalie Sawyer reminded the television audience they were not the views of Sky Sports.

Mike Hall has never been asked back since.

Not that the 43-year-old allowed himself to slip out of the limelight.

He has continued to lead from the front in the discrediting of Portpin.

Hall has doggedly pursued those he believes are responsible for leaving the club in its current tragic guise.

While the media – including The News – have been hampered by libel laws and legal threats, he has worked underground, digging away, prodding and probing.

Last week the fruits of his immense labour were brought blinking into the light via Pompey-fans.com in the form of two explosive blogs.

Suddenly, Hall has become a household name among Blues followers – and the scourge of Balram Chainrai & Co.

It’s a journey which has seen him work closely with national papers from Great Britain to Israel.

He has been taken into the confidence of many of those at the forefront of the club’s demise.

He has been ridiculed by some for ‘creating a 1920s gangster world’ and spreading a ‘mystique’.

And here we are, the Trust are officially PKF’s preferred bidders and close to seizing control of the football club.

Wonderful, wonderful work by those on the Trust board, SOS Pompey and, of course, the fans.

However, the instrumental role of the champion-of-new-media Hall should never have been underestimated.

This is a man whose work has appeared under the bylines of journalists in six national papers over the past three years.

Perhaps most crucial of all, his research was read by the Football League.

Yes, every word, every finding and every matrix ever unearthed by him and colleague Sue Maskell has been delivered to the Football League HQ.

Judging how matters have conspired to deny Portpin regaining the club in the past week, you can only presume they digested each alarming detail.

Through my job, I had already come into contact with Hall before he burst on to our television screens with that inimitable style.

Our paths first crossed in October 2009 when the club’s press officer, Gary Double, banned me for a match report which stated Paul Hart would be sacked and Avram Grant would replace him.

Outraged and ever the one to fight perceived injustice, Hall complained to Pompey.

When I was eventually allowed back into the club – two weeks after Grant was made manager – the North Stand lower season ticket holder demanded I received an apology.

We have remained in frequent touch ever since. My phone bills tell the tales.

I still have the e-mails of his early Portpin research from around February 2010, largely unprintable considering the seriousness of their content.

Especially against people with a history of being litigious against newspapers.

Hall went on to open many peoples’ eyes, while the veracity of his claims were regularly confirmed to myself by a number of Fratton Park characters too afraid to go on the record.

This was no crank armed with conspiracy theories.

I was present at one early Trust meeting when he grabbed the microphone to impart his Portpin claims to a hushed Rifle Club audience. It was stunning.

Incidentally, Hall was part of the Trust’s steering committee in August 2009, along with the likes of the late Tony Goodall and Barry Dewing.

He was also a member of the SOS Pompey contingent asked to meet Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore in February 2010.

That helped mould a new means and ethics test to replace the fit-and-proper-person’s test used to vet potential owners.

More recently, Hall has been focusing entirely on his research to the point of last week’s explosive final scene.

While Portpin’s PR arm, Tavistock, refuse to speak to me on account I am a lowly sports journalist rather than from the news side, they have freely communicated with Hall.

And hasn’t he led them a merry dance, initially with his 106 questions.

Sadly, now they have also given him the cold shoulder, cutting off all correspondence.

Not that he is bothered. His work is complete.

Incidentally, Hall’s Sky Sports clip from February 2010 has to date attracted 4,671 views on You Tube.

Now two administrations, two relegations and minus 19 points on, those issues raised are still as relevant.

Many didn’t listen to that ‘ranting madman’ back then – but they are all ears now.