Portsmouth 1-3 Middlesbrough; Daily Mirror match report
Published 21:28 04/03/12 By Ann Gripper
Luke Varney believes there is a saviour out there for Portsmouth – but he is not convinced it is the fan with a colour-blindness cure.
Varney, who came on as a second-half substitute in Saturday's defeat to Boro after three months out with a knee ligament injury, has joined his team mates in taking on extra tasks around the club.
Pompey's perilous financial situation has seen players manning the ticket office after recent lay-offs, and Varney has had a stint on reception.
He said: “Someone rang in and asked whether Trevor Birch was there, so I asked if I could take a message.
“He said: 'I've been colour blind all my life, I've found my secret now – I can see colours so I'm going to buy the club, I'll get millions for it.'
“It shows you how barmy some of the fans are but I think his feelings are in the right place, and it just shows you the spirit and mentality of the fans.
“It was quite a nice phone call to have, it cheered me up.”
Varney has found it “horrible” as a frustrated spectator as Portsmouth’s problems have spiralled, with a percentage of player wages deferred to the end of the season and top players loaned out.
Former owner Balram Chainrai was yesterday [Sunday] linked with a return to the club as an emergency measure to prevent liquidation.
But however tough things have got, with administrator Trevor Birch warning there may not be enough money to last until the end of the season, Varney has remained positive about the club’s future.
He said: “My gut feeling is I think we'll be fine.
“I just hope someone comes in and completely wipes the slate clean and we don't have shared parties all over the place.
“It just needs to be someone who takes over, wipes everything away and then we can have a real good go because this club deserves it.”
Varney added: “I was really pleased when Trevor Birch came in and gave us a bit of truthful information about the wage deferral because we'd just heard a lot of rubbish beforehand.
“The lads were hearing bits and bobs and trying to add two and two together.
“I think we'd rather know. That's all it took. It changed the mentality around the place as soon as we spoke to the administrator.
“I know it's all relative, we do earn good money, but the lads have got mortgages the same as anyone.
“A lot of them were worried and it was affecting their football.”
On the pitch it was keeper Stephen Henderson who once again kept Pompey afloat for long periods of the game.
Boro eventually went in front on 55 minutes through a Barry Robson penalty after Ricardo Rocha was judged to have pulled down Seb Hines – though Henderson felt Rocha was the one fouled.
Skipper Matthew Bates followed up Lukas Jutkiewicz’s saved close-range effort to double the lead eight minutes later.
But Pompey kept fighting, and when Jutkiewicz handled in the area, Greg Halford slotted the daintiest of penalties.
Substitute Dave Kitson had a glorious opportunity to put the strugglers level but sent his shot just wide – and Marvin Emnes punished that miss seven minutes from time.
Boro’s Rhys Williams was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card, but it was a rare blemish on a professional performance from Tony Mowbray’s side in the passionate atmosphere created by the Pompey fans.
Debutant Adam Hammill, on loan from Wolves, said: “It's sad to see this club in the situation it is. It would be a shame to see them go out of the league.
“But for us it's about coming here and doing a job, not letting it affect us.
“There's a lot of potential at Boro - I think they're one of the best clubs in the league.
“We need to keep winning and getting points on the board, and with two games at home now we've got a great chance to do that.”