Pompey Paul’s pride driving club forward

Alan McLoughlin, Andy Awford, Paul Hardyman. Pompey v Plymouth Argyle. Fratton Park. League Two. Saturday, May 3, 2014. Picture: Joe Pepler PPP-140405-140244001
Alan McLoughlin, Andy Awford, Paul Hardyman. Pompey v Plymouth Argyle. Fratton Park. League Two. Saturday, May 3, 2014. Picture: Joe Pepler PPP-140405-140244001

The Pompey Magazine is on sale this weekend.

In it, you will find interview after interview with players, management and staff looking forward to the season ahead.

Yes, it is worth just £1.50 of anyone’s money to get the lowdown on what is happening at Fratton Park ahead of the campaign.

But, no, this isn’t just a gratuitous plug for what we have been working on at Lakeside Towers in recent weeks.

Within the wall-to-wall features everything is covered from the most unusual of sidelines for Danny Hollands, to chairman Iain McInnes’ vow not to rein in his passion for Pompey in the directors’ box.

There was one interview, however, which leapt from the magazine’s pages awash with Pompey pride.

So much pride, in fact, that Blues coach Paul Hardyman uses that exact word six times in the opening paragraphs of his piece.

In the end, the feature with Hardyman was condensed into 800 words. It could have been double that.

Each and every one of his sentences was drenched in unadulterated passion for the star and crescent.

At one stage, Hardyman’s eyes welled up as he described witnessing friends lose their jobs at the club through two periods of administration.

It’s a similar scenario when speaking about his family’s allegiance to Pompey and the influence of Alan Ball, which permeates his work.

‘My missus calls me “Pompey Paul”,’ Hardyman explains. ‘Pompey has been my life.’

Yes, it’s been the Copnor lad’s life since he was following his side home and away in the late 70s.

It’s been the former Great Salterns student’s life since he progressed from the youth team into Bally’s great team of the 80s, and eventually made English football’s top flight at the third time of asking.

It’s been his life through coaching roles which spread the gambit from community to Academy level, with the 50-year-old taking youngsters like Adam Webster all the way along that path.

And it now remains his life after stepping into the senior set-up for the campaign ahead as first-team coach.

To hear Hardyman’s anecdotes about following his team to Wimbledon for an FA Cup with 7,500 fans in December as a child was fascinating.

As much as it was heartwarming it was also reassuring to hear the sincerity of his feelings for Pompey.

Those sentiments are nothing particularly new or revelatory when it comes to Hardyman, as anyone who knows him well tell you.

But juxtaposing the honour he feels at being charged with helping guide his club back to health, with some of the empty rhetoric we’ve heard down the years makes quite a jarring comparison.

Yes, it’s a reality being royal blue to the core provides no guarantee of success. We’ve seen that before.

But, those emotions aren’t romanticised and spun and are propelling the charge forward.

The motivations for success aren’t just purely personal gain here.

Pompey doing well isn’t a bi-product of Hardyman feathering his own nest, as has been the case with previous regimes.

The mocking and condescending tones towards the club which paid them from some previous players and staff stuck in the throat.

Now, it’s the very qualities this city identifies with which are at the heart of the battleplan.

‘It’s about being hard-working first and foremost,’ Hardyman says.

‘As Bally said, when you go out there you are going to war. So you stick together and have a work ethic.’

Somehow, you feel there is a better chance of winning the war with generals like Hardyman about.