Awford relishing Bognor reunion

Pompey manager Andy Awfordm far right, during his days at Nyewood Lane with fellow coach Darin Kilpartrick, left, and Bognor boss Mick Jenkins
Pompey manager Andy Awfordm far right, during his days at Nyewood Lane with fellow coach Darin Kilpartrick, left, and Bognor boss Mick Jenkins

Andy Awford will be hoping for better fortune when he ventures to Bognor for a Nyewood Lane reunion.

Pompey travel to their non-league neighbours tomorrow (1pm) for the second of their pre-season friendlies.

Following a 4-0 victory over the Hawks, which was as comfortable as the scoreline suggests, it is now onto the Rocks – and the former employers of Awford.

It was the summer of 2008 when he was recruited as new boss Mick Jenkins’ assistant, joining coach Darin Killpartrick in the backroom set-up.

Hopes were high of progression from Conference South that season – then Bognor’s club house was burnt down a week into it.

The arson attack proved crucial, with the absence of regular income crippling the finances of the club and prompting the previously-agreed budget to be slashed.

Wretched luck for Jenkins and Awford, who both quit in January 2009 with the cash-strapped outfit on the road to relegation.

Now Pompey boss, he heads back to the Ryman League premier division outfit where he still retains friends.

‘We have a really strong relationship with Bognor, as well as the Hawks, Gosport and a lot of other local clubs,’ said Awford.

‘When I was involved in the Academy we played some youth games over there, while they have taken some of our young players on loan in the past such as Josh Warren, Nick Awford, Dan Thompson and Ashley Harris.

‘Of course, I worked there myself when I first came out of the pro game and it is a lovely club which is run well by people who do things properly.

‘I went there with Mick Jenkins and at the time was also taking my degree and carrying out part-time teaching. It made sense to keep my hand in so I would coach at training on Tuesdays and Thursdays and be there most matches.

‘I had other commitments so couldn’t make every match, but it was the majority and I found out what a great club it was.

‘Unfortunately, things beyond our control happened off the field and we were left with the lowest budget in the league.

‘What I will say is we had a right go at it, but Mick left in the January and I went with him.

‘They are proper people over there, though – people like Jack Pearce and Daba (Killpartrick) – and I have always been made welcome by them.’

Tomorrow, Awford will again seek to give all fit members of his squad game time, adopting the approach followed for the Hawks fixture.

On that occasion, 26 players were used – with Wes Fogden and Tom Craddock injured, while David Connolly was omitted.

Awford added: ‘We have a strong Pompey contingent down that way and we want to keep branching out.

‘I stood behind the goal to watch last year’s friendly as I was keeping an eye on the kids who featured.

‘As with the Hawks match, we will be giving game time for everyone who is fit to play.

‘This is about fitness and we want to get more miles in the legs and more air in the lungs, so there will be players turning out for 30 minutes and 45 minutes.

‘Nothing has been decided about the line-up yet, we will today sit down and assess who needs what.’