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Daily journalist interviews 23 patch football legends for book

A regional daily journalist has written a follow-up to a book chronicling the most legendary players of the football club he covers.

Neil Allen, chief sports writer at The News, Portsmouth, published Played Up Pompey in 2015, which featured in-depth interviews with 24 former Portsmouth FC stars.

Now he has tracked down a further 23 of the club’s most well-loved players for ‘Played Up Pompey Too’, which features nine different recipients of The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season, 10 Pompey Hall of Fame inductees, one FA Cup winner and a host of other promotion winners at different levels of the Football League.

Neil has covered almost 600 Portsmouth matches for The News, watching them at 117 different grounds and working with 16 permanent managers.

Portsmouth Too

For the current volume, Neil interviewed Steve Stone, Linvoy Primus, Kevin Dillon, Steve Claridge, John Milkins, Paul Walsh, Svetoslav Todorov, Dejan Stefanovic, Billy Rafferty, Eoin Hand, Mick Quinn, David Norris, Colin Garwood, Jed Wallace, Nick Jennings, John Aloisi, Peter Mellor, Mike Trebilcock, Bobby Kellard, Jamie O’Hara, Neil Webb, John Beresford and John McClelland, while the foreword is written by Ray Crawford.

He told HTFP: “Within two months of publication of the first book, I set about interviewing other players for a prospective second and thankfully that also saw the light of day. In May, Pompey became only the fifth club in Football League history to win each of the four divisions, so there is a rich seam of footballers to select from.

“As I’ve discovered over the years, existence as a Pompey player may be fleeting, yet its grip is lifelong and many footballers continue to sport the badge upon their heart long after the legs have slowed. Often face-to-face meetings surpassed two hours, regularly phone calls stretched past 90 minutes, such was their immense commitment towards the book, with candid and often emotional recollections.

“For the book launch, held at Fratton Park, six of those interviewed attended, among them the likes of Steve Claridge and Paul Walsh, while former skipper Dejan Stefanovic travelled from Serbia to be present.

“Without all 23 players’ honest contribution, the book would not have been possible, and speaking to them was wonderfully refreshing in these days of sanitised player interaction from the top.”

Played Up Pompey Too is priced at £17.99 and available from Waterstones, WH Smith, local newsagents and Amazon.