Portsmouth News - Portsmouth Sportsmail

Why loss of Macca is so hard to accept

- With Steve Bone

As you get older, it’s inevitable that instances of footballer­s you’ve watched play for your team passing away will increase.

Pompey have lost plenty of legends in recent years and yet, for me and, I suspect, many others, the death of Alan McLoughlin a few days ago was felt more sharply than many of the other losses that had gone before.

It is only one generation ago that he was a permanent fixture in the royal blue

No4 shirt in the middle of the pitch. And of course, he had stayed in our lives through his coaching and radio roles, both of which he carried out with the same profession­alism that had made him such a fine footballer for club and country.

I watched more Pompey games in the 1990s than I have in any other decade and Macca was, of course, a pivotal figure for almost all of those years.

Yet it was only when I looked back at the games he’d featured in – and scored in – that I was reminded of just how many huge Pompey occasions he was not only part of but played a key role in.

There was Forest in the FA Cup (and let’s be honest, if Macca had left after that initial loan period he’d still be a Pompey legend for that goal), the Liverpool semis, the 92-93 promotion run, famous cup ties with Blackburn, Man Utd,

Everton, Leeds and others, the great escape runs and their finales at Huddersfie­ld and Bradford in 1996 and 1998. The list goes on.

In a way it was fitting that his Pompey playing days ended around the same time as Alan Ball’s Blues managing days did.

Now there’s two characters, both now sadly departed, who you wouldn’t mind as your all-time

Pompey boss and skipper.

At the age of 54, Macca was taken from his beloved family and friends far, far too soon. But the magical memories he gave us will live on forever.

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