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The Darke Side: Ian's XI

Ian Darke selects 11 of his favourite Pompey players

4 June 2020

Alan Knight

It is a little spooky – even weird – how football supporters form an emotional bond with some players, while never taking to others.

This often has nothing to do with how good they are. Feelings, not reasons, can help you decide.

For instance, Pompey have had loads of strikers better than Benjani and Alan Biley, but to this day they retain a special place in the hearts of most Fratton fans.

It got me round to thinking who the players are that I have enjoyed watching most in more than half a century of following this club.

Please understand this is not an attempt at a ‘Best Ever’ Pompey select team – just this observer’s rather indulgent list of favourites (and I’ve had to miss a few out). So here goes…

ALAN KNIGHT: Legend is an over-used word, but it perfectly fits ‘Knightsie’. I’m sure he had some bad days in his marathon career, but I don’t remember many.

WARREN NEILL: An under-rated and silky right-back who could defend and create plenty just behind Darren Anderton.

"Legend is an over-used word, but it perfectly fits ‘Knightsie’. I’m sure he had some bad days in his marathon career, but I don’t remember many."

Ian Darke

LINVOY PRIMUS: Journeyman defender who Harry Redknapp thought would not cut it in the Premier League. He did – and how!

JIMMY DICKINSON: Suave and classy with matinee idol looks, ‘Gentleman Jim’ won two titles and 48 England caps, staying loyal even when times got tough for the club he loved.

JOHN BERESFORD: Exciting attacking left-back who went on to star for Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle ‘entertainers’.

PETER HARRIS: My first Pompey hero as a kid. Right-wing flier who hit all five against Aston Villa one night.

MICKY KENNEDY: It was so sad to hear of his premature death last season. He provided the steel every team needs and was feared by rivals.

PAUL MERSON: Pass master of Pompey’s promotion to the Premier League with a brilliant football brain. He was even clapped off at Millwall after 5-0 win.

PATRIK BERGER: He glided through games and was very easy on the eye, also scoring in Pompey’s first Premier League game against Villa.

TEDDY SHERINGHAM: All class – full of deft touches and important goals. His late career stint at Fratton was a real treat for the supporters.

PAUL WALSH: Twisting, darting, clever and incisive. He was just sensational that year he partnered Guy Whittingham and I reckon Pompey would have gone up had he not been suspended the play-offs.

Feel free to argue with that list – I’m sure you will!

This column first appeared in this season's Pompey v Ipswich matchday magazine.

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