Fans pledge £15,000 to help Pompey youngsters

Andy Awford has been touched by the generosity shown
Andy Awford has been touched by the generosity shown

Pompey’s youth set-up has been boosted after the community rallied to raise £15,000 towards new kit.

There is currently no club budget for tracksuits and polo shirts for players.

That prompted Academy manager Andy Awford to send letters to players’ families and local business’ in July seeking assistance.

Within a month the response was a staggering £15,000 collected.

Once a new ownership is confirmed, these funds will be used to buy tracksuits and polo shirts for the Pompey under-nines through to the under-18s.

It is another tremendous gesture of goodwill after St John’s College provided training facilities free of charge over the summer.

And Awford is delighted with how fans are chipping in to help the club in its on-going time of need.

He said: ‘We are begging, stealing and borrowing at the moment with the club on its knees and every member of staff pulling together and going the extra mile.

‘But that is not enough, we can’t do it without the community and fans.

‘They are also coming through for us and without these fans and blue-blooded people out there we would be in trouble.

‘There is a great community feel at the moment, the support throughout the whole city is magnificent.

‘Too many people have had their fingers burned by the club in the past and you can understand any scepticism.

‘But the overall goodwill the Academy have received and what is now spilling into the first team has been brilliant.

‘We’ve had local businesses come forward to help sponsor kits in addition to parents, friends, families, everyone donating. We now have enough to buy the lads tracksuits and polo shirts.

‘That’s £15,000 raised in one month by the people in this city.

‘Then we have the house parents, 12 of them who provide digs for our apprentices.

‘They have had their money cut and when I told them no-one even blinked.

‘Not one family said they were not going to do it any more despite a considerable amount of money being cut.

‘I can’t forget our friends at St John’s either, who have let us use their Farlington playing fields for nothing.

‘So many people out there want to do their little bit for the club and support it.

‘It really is fantastic.’

Awford’s Academy side face Gillingham at the Wellington Sports Ground on Saturday.

They will be seeking to bounce back from last weekend’s 4-3 defeat to Aldershot.

The youngsters had roared into a 3-0 first-half lead – only to lose at the death in a dramatic second half.

Bradley Tarbuck, Lewis Horsburgh and Nick Awford were the scorers.