Without doubt Guy Whittingham is best remembered for his time with Pompey, but he also spent a year with Villa.
Whittingham was a name I thought of early here, I considered writing about Patrik Berger, Steve Stone or David James, all players that I really did, or still do enjoy watching during their times with Pompey, then I thought no, I will do something on Mark Blake – but I always returned to Guy Whittingham, so I stuck with that thought…
Whittingham to this very day remains one of my all time Pompey heroes, yet I am still gutted by the fact that I never actually got to watch him play, well not watch from a crowd point of view anyway, and not during his most productive spell – when he returned in the late 90s on loan I must have seen all of his games.
When people talk about Whittingham many do not realise that he did not actually start out at Fratton Park. We all know about his army background but the former soldier was prolific during the 1988/89 season with Yeovil before he signed for Pompey.
He had happily scored goal for us, but who will ever forget his phenomenal season in 1992/93, when he scored an incredible 48 goals in all competitions, with 42 alone coming in the league, what a fantastic season that was, even if it ultimately ended in heartbreak – his partnership with Paul Walsh was amazing.
Sadly despite his goals, and the dozens of others we added that season we missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference, then lost out in the play offs, but we lost more than just the chance at top flight football at the end of that season – we also lost ‘corporal punishment’ to Villa for a little over £1m in 93.
I remember the day after he left, I was travelling up to Pompey on the train as a 14 or 15 year old kid with my family – we were going to stay with some other family members in Pompey – I recall looking at a paper that had a picture of him on the back holding or wearing a Villa shirt, I was gutted, but who could begrudge a man in his late 20s the chance of finally playing top-flight football… I think I did at the time, but soon began to appreciate it was something he had to take.
He found the going tough with Villa and during his time with them never really got going. He needed to go out on loan to one of their local rivals Wolves in order to find his goalscoring form again before returning to Villa Park, but he was then shipped off to Wednesday in 94.
Whittingham would become a crowd favourite with Wednesday bit still found goals hard to come across, but in all fairness he played a lot of his football in midfield for them. After a few years with Wednesday, with football again becoming hard to come across the man approaching his mid 30s returned to Wolves for another loan spell in 98, before one of our favourite sons returned to Fratton in January 99, again on a loan basis – and he marked his first home game after his return with a goal in a draw with Tranmere.
When he returned despite being in his mid 30s I was delighted and finally got to see the master at work, and he still knew where the goal was!
One of my favourite Fratton memories to this day remains his hat trick against Port Vale in a 4-0 win. With us desperately struggling at the wrong end of the league – as usual – he completed this hat trick in the last minute in front of me at the Fratton End, pure gold, a strike into the roof of the net if I recall, Alan McLoughlin also scored that day.
After scoring 7 goals in 9 games it looked like we had seen the last of him as he then went on loan to Watford, but he did return on a permanent basis in the summer of 99 and stayed until 2001, but he had loan spells with Peterborough and Oxford during this time.
Another fond memory of Whittingham’s loan return that I have was his equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Palace at Fratton Park. Lee Bradbury gave Palace an early lead and we had also had Mihalis Vlachos sent off, but with virtually the last kick of the game and us looking destined to lose 1-0 somehow he managed to force the ball home. That proved to be his last game during his loan return, but what a way to sign off before returning that summer.
When he left Pompey in 2001, by this time he was in his late 30s he signed for Wycombe and played in their 2001 FA cup semi final against Liverpool. I am pretty sure that he came on and played a part in that semi which a brave Wycombe side eventually lost 2-1. He retired at the end of that season and went on to manage both Newport and Newbury, but had the misfortune of having to leave both clubs as they got into financial difficulties, these troubles that Pompey had also had seemed to be following him around…
He is a regular guest now on the Quay, and previously used to work on the match day radio coverage, but now another legendary Pompey player, and someone mentioned earlier in this article, Alan McLoughlin covers this.
They say you learn something new every day and in researching for this I most certainly did find out something new about Whittingham, if it is in fact true as I had no idea it was? Apparently he is now on the coaching staff at Pompey, working within the youth set-up, so if he is then the kids really are learning from the master.
What we would do to have a goalscoring machine like Guy Whittingham now eh fellas!
PLAY UP POMPEY!
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