Lower Life: Our never-say-die striker is the perfect choice as Pompey boss

Guy Whittingham in his Pompey playing days  Picture by Pete Langdown
Guy Whittingham in his Pompey playing days Picture by Pete Langdown

How fitting that the PST’s first major appointment – aka the worst-kept secret in Portsmouth – should be Guy Whittingham.

If ever we needed continuity - people running Fratton Park who know the club inside out - it’s now.

Whittingham has done a remarkable job since taking over Michael Appleton in November. He did a pretty good one before that, too.

Since he came back to Fratton in a coaching role, he has performed a wide variety of roles, all to a very high standard.

He’s never sought praise, he’s never sought the limelight. But nor has he shied away from the need to work at the sharp end.

It seems a lifetime ago that he and Stuart Gray temporarily took over following Steve Cotterill’s move to Nottingham Forest.

They did pretty well then, if you recall, and when Appleton moved on, Whittingham was the obvious choice to plug the gap again. And can you think of one other club, at any level of football, where a 23-game winless run didn’t see any significant fall in the level of backing for the manager?

With Lance Corporal Awford at his side, Corporal Punishment, as those of us who witnessed him bursting on to the Pompey scene 23 seasons ago still think of him, guided the team through some of the darkest days we fans have known.

There was always going to be a turning point and it came, as Neil Allen pointed out in his column last Saturday, not in the form of the joyous win at Crewe, but in the 0-0 draw at Hartlepool that ended a run of nine straight defeats.

Since then, results have spoken for themselves and Whittingham has increasingly become the choice of the people to lead Pompey into this exciting new era.

I hope Awford’s influence continues to be a major one, too, and there are some other ex-Pompey types that could come back as players or backroom staff.

There’s a lot of love for PFC among ex-players – you only need to look at how many come back for a second spell to realise that.

I can remember Guy’s first Pompey goal as if it were yesterday: six minutes after coming on at home to Hull in September 1989 for his second appearance as a sub.

My dad, not always the best judge of a player, said there’d be a reason this new striker had only cost £450 to buy out of the Army and wouldn’t ‘make it’. Others had more confidence in him and were delighted to be proved right.

No-one who was at Fratton for the back-from-the-dead 3-3 draw against Leeds a few weeks after his debut – when he scored two late, late goals, one by chasing a seemingly-lost cause – will ever forget it.

But would any of the 10,260 present that night have imagined that a generation later, that same never-say-die attitude would be leading a fan-owned club as manager?

It’s a Fratton fairytale for the Corporal that still has a few chapters to run.

Email stevebonepfc@googlemail.com

Tweet @stevebone1