The crisis club now gaining national attention for right reasons

Jayden Stockley, centre, is congratulated by Kyle Bennett and Gareth Evans after his match-winner against Bristol Rovers sent Pompey temporarily top of League Two last weekend Picture: Joe Pepler
Jayden Stockley, centre, is congratulated by Kyle Bennett and Gareth Evans after his match-winner against Bristol Rovers sent Pompey temporarily top of League Two last weekend Picture: Joe Pepler

The Sky cameras descended upon the Pompey training ground, their interest not so much stirred but rudely awoken from a deep slumber.

Monday represented a rare and highly-intriguing presence from the national media, not only in terms of this season but recent years.

In the past they would take residence outside the Blues’ training base, a patient wait merely to catch a glimpse of a notable face fleeing in a car.

Occasionally, they struck lucky and received a wave of acknowledgement to set the pulse racing and make it all worthwhile.

That was when the Blues were stationed at the Wellington Sports Ground, when television crews lined Stoneham Lane to capture the latest instalment of the Pompey in Crisis soap opera.

It was a highly-popular haunt for national broadcasters – understandably so with the football club providing such a steady stream of breaking news stories.

Although, woe betide anyone venturing onto the Eastleigh Football Club car park opposite – an intrusion usually accompanied by threats of calling the police and menaces of parking fines on grounds of trespass.

During those years the television cameras which took root captured it all through their diligence and stubbornness.

Like the time Newcastle United-target Harry Redknapp fled through a side door and was driven away while the written and radio media were distracted elsewhere awaiting the start of the press conference he was meant to be participating in.

Like the time David James was spotted speeding away in his car on transfer deadline day, sending the Sky reporter scampering away to proclaim Pompey’s keeper had departed for transfer talks.

Although, it turned out Jamo was actually driving his son to Eastleigh train station – before returning to train.

Then there was the occasion of Luke Varney baring his backside while the media gathered outside for news on Steve Cotterill’s impending departure to Nottingham Forest, which at least raised a chuckle.

However, one stuffy freelance photographer was so appalled he complained to the club, saying the striker’s behaviour was offensive.

A bygone era, followed by a Sky sabbatical. Although, no coincidence their on-going absence occurred as Pompey disappeared out of view, tumbling through the divisions.

But on Monday they were back, invited into the Blues’ Roko training base with welcoming arms and invited to interview manager Paul Cook underneath sapphire-blue skies and glorious sunshine.

This time their presence was not dictated by a Pompey bad news day – instead, national media were tempted back by what is slowly unfurling into something of success story.

That and the fact Sky no longer broadcast the Champions League and urgently require something else to fill their stomachs while the transfer window remains ‘slammed’ shut.

Still, their attendance should not be mocked. Rather, it represents the growing interest from outside the local area in a football club seductively suggesting it is finally getting its act together on the field of play.

Having risen to the top of League Two – albeit only for 72 hours courtesy of dastardly Exeter – the Blues are beginning to attract attention for all the right reasons.

Before this season and since relegation from the Premier League in 2010, Pompey have failed to win 70.91 per cent of their fixtures in all competitions.

That depressing sequence includes two relegations, another relegation battle and the lowest Football League finish in the club’s history.

Along the way there have been 96 league defeats in 230 games, with 66 triumphs and 68 draws.

In addition, there is the tally of 21 cup games, of which not a single one has contained an FA Cup victory and last season marked the first time in the club’s history the Blues had been eliminated by a non-league side in a major cup competition.

In total, in all competitions from August 2010, the Fratton faithful have endured 109 defeats, 73 wins and 69 draws.

Then arrived this season, with Cook at its head and the forecast of sunshine instead of rain.

By the time Pompey won 2-1 at Bristol Rovers last weekend, they had chalked up a nine-match unbeaten run.

Perhaps most significant of all, they topped a table for the first time in more than nine years.

The previous instance was following a 1-0 win at Charlton on September 16, 2006, with Lomana Lualua serving as the match-winner.

Redknapp’s side found themselves top of the Premier League the season after pulling off the Great Escape, so memorably sealed at Wigan.

Fast forward nine years and Pompey were back on top again at the end of last weekend.

Presently, they are third following the Grecians’ kill-joy act, but there is plenty of time this season to climb two places once again.

You see there is a buzz and expectancy around the city, whose pulsating resonance has alerted even the likes of Sky.

Suddenly the very mention of Pompey is no longer attracting shakes of the head and loud tuts from those onlookers without affiliation.

People peering through the window are observing the good in a club which has hit rock bottom and is now edging upwards towards brighter skies.

These are early days in terms of this season, admittedly, but Fratton Park is truly magical once again.

Irrespective of Exeter, there are smiles, there is enjoyment, there is pride, while the passion has always been there. And there is Sky.