Two players involved in Pompey’s now controversial fixture with Oldham last season have spoken of their shock over Sam Sodje’s match-fixing claims.
Liam Walker and Simon Eastwood lined-up alongside the 34-year-old in the Boundary Park clash which has become the focal point of match-fixing allegations.
The Blues lost the February 23, 2013, League One encounter 1-0 – yet it’s Sodje’s dismissal in the game which has subsequently rocked football.
The ex-Fratton Park central defender was filmed by a national newspaper describing how he punched an opponent in that match to receive a red card in exchange for £70,000.
The player attacked was Jose Baxter, who was struck with two blows by Sodje in the groin in the 50th minute.
And two of Sodje’s playing colleagues that day have been left stunned by yesterday’s revelations.
Speaking from Spain, Walker told The News: ‘My dad rang me yesterday to tell me about what has happened, I couldn’t believe it.
‘I can remember Sam saying “sorry lads” in the dressing room afterwards, just like you would if you had been sent off.
‘At the time I couldn’t quite see what happened in the build up to the sending off as it was not near me.
‘It was only afterwards when we saw replays that we realised how ridiculous it was from Sam.
‘I remember him as a nice bloke. I got on with him really well. He was sound.
‘He had some brilliant games as well, especially at Hartlepool a few matches earlier. Hearing about this is a real shock. You don’t expect it at all.’
Also among the starting line-up that day were current Blues players Johnny Ertl, Yassin Moutaouakil, Thery Racon and Patrick Agyemang.
Another was Eastwood, who left in the summer to join Blackburn and played in their goalless draw at QPR on Saturday.
The keeper said: ‘Obviously I’m shocked at what has come out about Sam.
‘I have watched the online video of what he said and have to say it doesn’t look good.
‘I remember after the Oldham game Sam was really apologetic and told us he had let us down.
He also said he would never do it again. That was the end of it. No-one thought much of it. These things happen and you move on.
‘I made a mistake for the only goal in that match and got hammered everywhere for it. That’s how I remember the fixture more than anything else.
‘From my position on the pitch, I didn’t even see what happened for the sending off – then I saw the replay.
‘This whole thing is madness.’
n Pompey will today officially unveil Richie Barker as their new manager on a one-year rolling contract.
A 2pm press conference has been called at Fratton Park, with Steve Coppell also to join the 38-year-old in a director of football-style capacity.