Danny Cowley was only too happy to pose for selfies after arriving at Westleigh Park.
Despite being in charge of Pompey for almost four months, a friendly at Havant & Waterlooville was the first chance for him to properly meet the club’s fans.
With Covid rules relaxing, there was a healthy turnout for the traditional pre-season clash between two Hampshire clubs.
They saw the side from National League South net either side of a Ryan Tunnicliffe effort, only for the visitors to hit back after the break.
One of 10 trialists to feature grabbed a hat-trick, while Reeco Hackett-Fairchild also scored in a 5-2 thriller.
Cowley was happy with the second half comeback, but more encouraged by what he saw in the stands.
The Blues boss said: “It was nice just to see football supporters at a game again – or even just in the car park before kick-off.
“I’ve made some of them down along the seafront or at Gunwharf, but having them there in a football setting was great.
"I love the game and I know they do, but it’s been missing that key ingredient of emotion over the past 16 months."
“I love the game and I know they do, but it’s been missing that key ingredient of emotion over the past 16 months.
“You want that passion and it was brilliant to hear some noise and for them to really get behind the team.
“We know how much this football club means to people and will try our best to create something they can all be proud to be associated with.
“It was a competitive match against Havant & Waterlooville. We didn’t play with the energy and intensity we would have liked before the break.
“But we were significantly better in the second half and looked much more powerful and athletic, so that was pleasing.”
Gavin Bazunu and Sean Raggett were both missing from the Pompey side, but Cowley allayed any fears.
He said: “We want to safely navigate through this period and will wrap them in cotton wool if they’ve got any niggles.
“Sean got a little kick on his ankle and Gavin disrupted some fibres in his quad, but hopefully they’ll be ready to train next week.”