McInnes calls for fans to recognise Hawks’ role in Pompey resurgence

Pompey chairman ''Iain McInnes has praised the Hawks for their help during the Blues' troubled times

Pompey chairman ''Iain McInnes has praised the Hawks for their help during the Blues' troubled times

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Iain McInnes has called on Pompey fans to give the Hawks a round of applause tonight in recognition of their role in the Blues’ resurgence.

Westleigh Park was one of four options initially looked at by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust as a Plan B ground should they have been unable to play at Fratton Park this season.

The Hawks’ home then emerged as the favoured choice following tentative talks also with Crawley, Bournemouth and Aldershot.

Trust representatives held five meetings with Derek Pope and Hawks officials as the clubs joined forces.

As part of the tabled agreement, two new stands would have been constructed at Westleigh Park, with the turnstiles and floodlights improved.

Ultimately, on April 10, it was announced in the High Court that then-owners Portpin had agreed to an offer from the Trust to remove their charge from Fratton Park.

It signalled the tearing up of Plan B as the Trust secured Pompey’s famous home to go with the football club.

New club chairman McInnes believes the fact the Blues had identified an alternative ground helped influence Portpin’s decision to sell up.

Pompey face the Hawks tonight (7.45pm) in their opening pre-season friendly and McInnes is full of praise for the Hawks’ friendship during such times.

He said: ‘When we were looking at the availability of places to play football, the most obvious place early on was Westleigh Park. However, the issues were capacity and car parking.

‘Regardless, Mark Catlin (Pompey chief executive) went across there and met (Hawks secretary) Trevor Brock who effectively handed the keys over to him.

‘He told us we could do whatever we liked. There was no fee, no issuing of contracts, no catches. It was a case of “we are all Pompey fans and want this club to survive”.

‘It was a magnanimous gesture during times when there were not too many around. We had virtually nil friends.

‘On the back of that we had two or three different meetings with temporary stand manufacturers and got quotes.

‘We ended up getting a capacity somewhere around 9,000 and Havant Council were also approached and were really excited about the prospect.

‘We leaked this to Balram Chainrai as he didn’t believe we had another option. He thought he had us over a barrel with Fratton.

‘Thanks to the Hawks he didn’t, and tonight they deserve a round of applause from the fans for the part they played.’

Tonight’s friendly will see the Hawks keep all gate receipts.

That is in contrast to the last time the sides met in July 2011 when former owners CSI and chief executive David Lampitt asked for Pompey to receive half.

That summer, the Hawks also stepped in at the last minute to host Real Betis after Pompey were unable to honour what had been their own fixture with the Spanish side following a plane delay on their return home from America.

Pompey subsequently asked the non-league club for half the gate receipts.

Brock added: ‘Pompey were in their darkest time and you have got to help.

‘Anybody can be nice to you when you are winning and everything’s going well.

‘It is when you are up against it that you need friends.’