Brian Howe’s Company Opens Bad Wounds

Further to the Brian Howe training ground visit furore, Joe Michalczuk feels that Portsmouth FC should be the very thing that unites fans. 

One of the nicest men at Pompey, Colin Farmery, got himself into a spot of bother this week at Fratton – re-opening old wounds with a dose of Bad Company.


For some fans, Brian Howe’s VIP tour around Pompey’s training ground might as well been the video to one of Mr Howe’s most famous songs ‘Here Comes Trouble’ – and I can see why:

In a period of time when Civil War broke out at PO4, Brian Howe was one of the most forthright opponents of the trust – I know this as I was too – and put it this way: if there were a queue set up at Roko to have a look round the training ground, my place would be at the back of the line – and that’s despite being a season ticket holder for over 25 years and a weekly unsuccessful entrant of the Pompey Lottery (has anyone actually ever won a tenner!?)

I’m the first to admit there’s been progress at PFC since the trust took over – a debt free existence, our own training ground, a freshly spruced Fratton Park, even a fancy club crest sprayed into a revamped pitch.

Have they got it all right? No.

Guy Whittingham and Andy Awford were poor appointments – but understandably for a fan’s run club the heart ruled the head for a while.

The jury is still out whether the Tesco deal was a good one – as much as I enjoy taking a leak in a renovated toilet – at some point the Fratton Park issue will need to be addressed seriously.

But this season, it seems like the club has got there: Paul Cook was secured for a fee and the squad is made up of players plucked from higher levels: I’m sure Championship football will be just 3/4 years away at the most.

And this is where the old wounds open up once more – as my argument – and many people sceptical of fan ownership – has always been – “well how can fans take us to the Premier League?”

I didn’t see how it was possible back then (and I said so) – and I don’t see how it is possible now – so some sort of substantial investment, probably moving away from fan’s ownership, will have to be found before Pompey can dine at the top table once more.

Some fans say they don’t want Premier League football at Fratton – I find that stance baffling – but it’s an argument for another day.

The point here is that simple difference in opinion, was taken by many PST supporters, to be one, of “belittling fans” or people were speaking up against the trust for their own “personal gain”.

These conspiracy theories – that still persist to this day judging by the reaction of some fans to Brian Howe’s visit – destabilise the very ethos of fan’s ownership – if we buy a ticket to game, sup on a pint in the ground, follow the club’s fortunes on Twitter, sip on a £1 cup of tea (if the hot water is on) then we should be allowed to have a simple opinion without it being turned into something more sinister.

Was that difference in opinion always communicated in a calm manner? No.

But both sides said things in a way they shouldn’t have.

There are still those who sit on the Trust board to this very day that behaved – and continue to behave – in an appalling manner towards fellow Pompey fans.

For me, that personally means I can’t take the organisation seriously, despite the achievements: there is still an undercurrent of aggression, un-professionalism, irrationalism and tribalism that rears it’s head periodically among a minority and undermines 99% of members past achievements, hard work and desire to see the club move forward.

While that element exist, they can never say they truly represent Pompey fans: Especially when differing opinions still don’t seem to be accepted with grace and rationality.

So it is time to let bygones be bygones – both sides behaved in a way that didn’t befit behaviour to a fellow Pompey fan – but propagating this myth it was for personal gain or exhibited to belittle fellow fans is nonsense.

Football has always been a game of opinions: it’s what makes the game great, it’s what makes supporting such a passionate club as Portsmouth great: it shouldn’t be what divides us, now in this era of fan ownership, it should be the very thing that unites us.

It’d be boring if we all thought the same.


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