Born: Basingstoke, March 8 1971
Games: 192 Goals: 10
Joined from: Apprentice
Debut: Pompey 2 Hull 1, November 8 1988
First goal: Pompey 2 Barnsley 0, May 2 1992
Last match: Pompey 4 Southend 2, August 12 1995
Life after Pompey: Manchester City, Fulham, Crystal Palace, now under-18 academy manager at Fulham
MY LEAGUE DEBUT – THEN ‘BALLY’ WAS SACKED
My Pompey debut was in the Simod Cup when I came on as a substitute for Billy Gilbert against Hull at Fratton Park. There was a crowd of less than 3,000, but it was a great experience.
My league debut came at Leicester two months later. We lost 2-1 and it was Alan Ball’s last game – he was sacked a few days later. The high of my debut and the low of Bally’s sacking within a few days really prepared me for life in football. That’s what it was: ups and downs, twists and turns.
A RE-BORN POMPEY AT BLACKBURN
After Leicester I only played about four more games in two years. But then on the opening day of the 1991/92 season, together with Andy Awford, Darren Anderton and Darryl Powell, I was pitched in at Blackburn, who were just beginning to flex their muscles under Jack Walker.
We’d all played in a few pre-season games, but none of us believed that we would all start in the first game of the season, let alone go on to become first team regulars and reach an FA Cup semi-final eight months later.
I can still visualise the fans as we ran out at Ewood Park. I think the general impression was: ‘Who are this bunch of snotty-nosed kids?’ But that was the day we began to establish ourselves.
FIRST GOAL & PLAYER OF THE SEASON
Although I should, I don’t remember a lot about the goal, other than it was a header in a 2-0 win over Barnsley at Fratton Park. It was the same afternoon that I was presented with the player of the season award, so it was a special day, which capped a pretty special season. The only regret was that we reached an FA Cup semi-final, but not the final.
THE LIVERPOOL PENALTY SHOOT-OUT
I suppose most will see it as the most meaningless goal I’ve scored, seeing as we missed the rest. Actually the one I put away didn’t go where it was meant to. I aimed for the corner and it went in the middle. Nevertheless, on a personal basis the goal meant a lot to me as it was in an FA Cup semi-final replay against Liverpool.
Afterwards, most of our lads swapped shirts with the Liverpool players, but I wouldn’t swap mine. It wasn’t that I was a bad loser or anything, I just didn’t want a Liverpool shirt that night. At the time I really did believe we would make it to Wembley soon, but it never quite worked out that way.
The only real reason I left the club was because I felt Jim Smith had been treated badly. I had no problem with Terry Fenwick, the new manager, who was okay to me, but I think the feeling was that I’d been at Pompey quite a time and, if he could move me on and take a bit of money, he would. So I thought that when the offer came in from Manchester City it was probably time to go. Believe me, though, it was a tough decision, mostly because of the relationship I had with Portsmouth and the fans.
Kit Symons was talking to Johnny Moore. A copy of this interview first appeared in the Pompey v Southampton matchday magazine.