The cruel handling of a Pompey hero

Alan McLoughlin voiced his opinion on why Jed Wallace is presently more effective on the right-hand side of midfield.

He revealed his frustration at the wretched away form – and pinpointed a potential solution.

Alan McLoughlin with Pompey youngster Nick Awford Picture: Joe Pepler

Alan McLoughlin with Pompey youngster Nick Awford Picture: Joe Pepler

The room listened, around 300 supporters drinking every delicious word.

Barely 60 hours later and the man affectionately known as Macca had left Pompey.

Monday was a night dripping in nostalgia as fans packed the Victory Lounge to be privy to the Blues legend’s Q&A event.

McLoughlin also sold 131 copies of his new autobiography – A Different Shade of Green – patiently signing every single book thrust onto the table he was sat beside.

Past 10pm, the 47-year-old was still scrawling his signature as Steve Hudson from the Shepherds Crook presented him with 10 copies.

Every fan left Fratton Park that evening wearing a smile, certainly not a common denominator these days.

Yet Macca possesses a wonderful talent for story-telling, accompanied, of course, by that sharp – and occasionally brutal – sense of humour.

And those present were treated to the former Republic of Ireland international at his very finest. A maestro conducting the room with effortless charm.

Former Pompey team-mates Andy Awford and Alan Knight also popped in to show their support, as did kitman Kev McCormack.

Come Thursday morning, though, Awford was delivering the bombshell to his friend of 22 years that there would be a parting of the ways as coach.

Regardless of the motive, it is another reminder of the callously cruel nature of football – and how swiftly fortunes can change.

McLoughlin and his faithful blue clipboard – which certainly never left his side during pre-season – have departed Fratton Park.

Awford and the Blues board had decided a mre experienced coaching presence was required, somebody boasting broad knowledge of the lower divisions.

The motive can be debated, although with Pompey drifting in 12th spot with the League Two play-offs their goal, the need for change somewhere in the back room is understandable.

But its blundering timing was unnecessarily cruel to a wonderful club servant who warrented better.

Macca, though, is not one to seek pity. He recently fought back from cancer with pride and a determination which epitomises his powerful character.

He is also a realist and the penultimate page of his autobiography released last month is marvellously poignant.

‘Yet when I do eventually get the sack, which I inevitably will, I will look on my legacy at Pompey with pride,’ he wrote.

‘I went back to a club that I love in order to influence, mould and build; to take it to new levels; and to give younger players the benefit of my long experience in the game.

‘...we have brought fans back and we’ve restored a sense of what Pompey is all about; a hub, a focal point, a place to be proud of.’

After one long away trip this season, the team coach returned to Fratton Park and Macca staggered into the ground weighed down by bags and water bottles.

A man sporting a gun stepped into his path, informing the ex-midfielder he couldn’t be allowed to pass.

Macca questioned the reason and was told they were shooting foxes and it was too dangerous to enter.

‘Do I look like a fox to you?’

That’s Macca.