ANDY BARCHAM paid tribute to Pompey fans as he lifted the lid on the reasons for his exit.
Barcham yesterday agreed a two-year deal with AFC Wimbledon, after his deal with the Blues was cancelled by mutual consent.
Playing at Fratton Park is something you will never understand until you experience it. What a great feeling it is.Andy Barcham
The attacking talent told of his difficulty at making the decision to leave Fratton Park.
But fears over a lack of playing time next season under Paul Cook, and the desire to find security for his young family prompted his exit.
The 28-year-old thanked Blues supporters for backing him, as he explained the details behind leaving.
Barcham said: ‘It was a really hard decision and one I didn’t really want to make, but I felt it had to be done.
‘I’ve got close friends here and the fans have only ever made me feel totally welcome.
‘When I was going through some rough times they were great with me.
‘I’ve been in all summer because I was looking forward to being fit and ready for pre-season.
‘I wanted to be as ready as possible to go.
‘But the new manager has come in and, rightly so, brought in some new players – well quite a lot!
‘You ask the question (about playing), especially when I was a bit-part player last season.
‘I had a chat with the gaffer, and he made it clear I was part of things, but with all the players coming in, I had to make a decision over whether I would get the game time.
‘I’ve got friends who are finding it hard to find clubs this summer.
‘I’ve got one child, another on the way and I knew I couldn’t afford to have another season like that. I couldn’t afford to leave it to chance.
‘With a young family, I didn’t want to take the chance over not getting the game time.
‘I didn’t want to be in that position of being out-of-contract and struggling to find a club.’
Barcham made 53 appearances and scored five times after arriving at Pompey in 2013.
He admitted playing at Fratton Park left an indelible mark on him, and is an experience he won’t forget.
Barcham said: ‘Playing at Fratton Park is something you will never understand until you experience it. What a great feeling it is.
‘To have the fans sing your name sends shivers through your body.
‘I’m going to miss that feeling, and it makes the decision a difficult one to make.
‘It’s nothing to do with Portsmouth. I’ve loved my time at the club.
‘There are moments I will never, ever forget like scoring at the Fratton End.
‘I’m at an age now where it’s not me, but my family who have to come first.
‘It wasn’t one I took lightly, but that was why I made that decision.
‘But I want the fans to know how thankful I am for what they did for me.’