Rocks renew and strengthen their Pompey links

Action from last season's Rocks-Pompey game / Picture by Chris Hatton
Action from last season's Rocks-Pompey game / Picture by Chris Hatton

THE ROCKS renew their special relationship with Pompey next week – and hope it will prove stronger than ever this season.

The two clubs have built up a strong bond in recent seasons and the Blues’ new-look squad visit Nyewood Lane for their annual pre-season friendly on Friday week (July 17, 7.30pm).

And they’re set to continue the arrangement which allows Bognor to borrow young players from Fratton Park in times when their own numbers become depleted – a move that worked well for both clubs last season.

Bognor borrowed Chad Field, Snorre Nilsen and Brad Haunstrup at different times last season to boost their options at the back and in midfield.

The three have now become first-year professionals at Fratton Park having played for the Blues’ now-defunct reserve team, as well as the Rocks, last term.

Others are likely to follow a similar path this season and Bognor general manager Jack Pearce said it was good news for the club that they werer able to work with Pompey.

I like to think we’ve always had a good relationship with Pompey but it is particularly strong at the moment.

Jack Pearce

“We look forward to welcoming them next Friday, when we hope to put on a barbecue and make it a family occasion, with some music in the clubhouse afterwards,” said Pearce.

“I like to think we’ve always had a good relationship with Pompey but it is particularly strong at the moment.

“The friendly helps set us up for the season – it is important for us in terms of prestige and revenue– and can really help us progress.

“And we will be pleased to be able to use one or two of their young players during the season. That will help us and hopefully help give those players experience at a good level of the game.”

Admission to the friendly is just £10 for adults – £5 cheaper than fans will pay to see Pompey at Havant today (July 11).

Last saeason, right-back Nilsen was the Pompey youngster most used by Rocks boss Jamie Howell, with eight appearances in Bognor’s Ryman premier campaign.

Pompey under-18 boss Mikey Harris said: “Our relationship with Bognor means players can be loaned out to them if required. It’s a fantastic link-up between the clubs.

“It provides our young players with first-team experience at a decent level for a team who play very, very good football, which is connected to our philosophy.”

Meanwhile, Bognor’s squad are ten days into their pre-season programme and coach Darin Killpartrick is delighted with progress ahead of next Monday’s first friendly, at home to Gosport.

He said: “We’ve got pretty much the full set of players back now and have been doing a lot of fitness work related to the way we will be playing. We’ll be ready mentally and physically for our first friendly.

“I’ve been impressed at the players’ general fitness levels but we need to step it up a gear now.”

STEVE BONE

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