The Pompey Chimes

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David Waterman - Portsmouth FC 1996 - 2002

Friday, 19 December 2008

Dave Waterman: Dave tried swapping one island for another

It was born in Guernsey and started to play football at the age of five. I joined a team called Belgrave Wanderers and when I was eight changed to Northerners Athletic.

Guernsey is approximately 27 square miles but there is a lot of football played. In the past it was difficult for a youngster to be noticed unless he was a real star player, but scouts now regularly go over to the Channel Islands and teams visit England much more often.

When I was 15 my team came across to play a few matches. We stayed at Southampton and paid a visit to The Dell.

I would rather it had been Fratton Park because I’ve always been a Pompey fan.

There’s quite a big Pompey following in Guernsey and my uncle and cousin are both Pompey barmy. My uncle’s house is called Fratton End and it is known to everybody on the island.

It was in a match against Gosport and Fareham that I was spotted by Dave Hurst who was then Pompey’s chief scout and Youth development officer.

He invited me to a schoolboy weekend and told me as long as I kept progressing and stayed fit I would be offered an apprenticeship.

I became a Pompey apprentice in 1993 and was with lads such as Deon Burton and Alex Totten. The club didn’t have a massive squad so we youngsters were often called up to play for the reserves.

Playing against experienced professionals was obviously a great help to us. Halfway through my second year as an apprentice, the manager Jim Smith was replaced by Terry Fenwick and it was under him that I made my league debut.

I’d been an unused sub but my first taste of action was against Grimsby Town on August 31, 1996. I came off the bench and we won 1-0.

My first start was in a 2-2 draw away to Manchester City on the opening day of the following season.

My mate Lee Bradbury had just left Pompey for Maine Road and that was his first game in City colours.

It was not a good season and we only managed to avoid relegation on the last day by beating Bradford City 3-1 at Valley Parade. The actual match is a bit of a blur for me but I can remember seeing our fans before the game and thinking how serious it all was.

It was such a relief when we won – and it was Bradders and Manchester City that went down.

I played under six different managers while with Pompey. Terry Fenwick, as I said, was my first boss, then there was Alan Ball. He was a great character, who always had time to pull you to one side and help you with your game.

It was while he was boss that I was called up for the Northern Ireland under-21 side. I was sent off in my first game but was selected a further 12 times. I played most of my games for Pompey under Tony Pulis.

I got on extremely well with Tony. He wasn’t afraid to upset people and he kept us up in 2000 after Alan Ball left.

Steve Claridge replaced Tony and I felt he was put in a difficult position. I think the club were always going to bring someone else in and when Graham Rix was appointed it was hard for Steve to go back to just being a player. He then moved on to Millwall.

Graham Rix had totally different ideas but the players weren’t as good technically as those he had been used to at Chelsea.

It was Harry Redknapp who let me go. I found him very fair. He offered me another year but told me I wouldn’t get much first-team football, so I would be better off finding another club.

This was when I moved to Oxford United.

I loved Fratton Park but life’s good at Privett Park, too

I was with Oxford for just over two years but in my second season my son Oakley was diagnosed with rhabdomysarcoma – a rare form of cancer – so I had a lot of time off.

When my wife, Lorraine, and I discovered his disease was terminal we spent a week in a caravan to get away from everything.

This was all laid on by a charity, in which Gary Lineker is heavily involved, that provides accommodation for families with terminally-ill children.

Oakley seemed very relaxed that week so Lorraine and I decided to start our own fund called the Oakley Waterman Caravan Foundation.

Our aim was to raise enough money to buy a caravan, but we have now managed to buy two. We’ve raised over £150,000 and the money’s still coming in. People have even knocked our door and handed over cash.

We have a website and continue to hold charity events and many ex-pros support us. We’re very grateful to everybody but there are a few people who deserve our special thanks. Kevin McCormick and Tony Male (Touchline Tony) have been wonderful, as have two local businessmen – Terry Clark and Nick Cartmell.

Then there is former Pompey and England centre forward Ray Crawford who recently published his autobiography and donated the profits between our charity and Motor Neurone Disease.

Oakley was six when he died, but we now have two little girls, Tahlees who is 14 months and Rome, five-and-a-half months.

I work with my brother Lee, a former Pompey apprentice, as a plasterer and now play for Gosport Borough.

Then, whenever I get the chance, I go to watch Pompey for they will always be my team. I loved my time at Fratton Park and just wish the club every success.


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