Regan Poole has joined Pompey and my initial response was anger.
Yep, good ‘ol base anger. He was meant to be Championship bound, and given his heroic performances for us last season, it felt like he deserved it. We all wanted to look in the division above and believe another one of our players had made the step up. It feels like a badge of honour when that happens, and Poole looked more equipped than most to make that jump.
So, when he rocks up at a team that finishes a couple of places above us, it did make me angry. I like to be balanced, but I’m just like everyone else, I have a natural reaction to things that, on occasion, is not in proportion with the actual event. Regan Poole, a solid servant who I defended in his first six months and lauded in his final two years has stepped sideways (in terms of divisions), rather than up. What I did not do was call him a snake on Twitter, because he isn’t.
There are a few facets to consider here. Firstly, Regan never strung the club along. He didn’t indicate he was signing a new deal. He never made a secret of his ambition, but he never flaunted it. He gave 100% from the first minute to the last in every single game. There’s no ambiguity about his effort or application in a Lincoln City shirt. A snake tries to manufacture a move, kisses the badge on the final day of the season, and gives interviews about how much he wants to stay. Regan did none of that, he never gave us false hope. We always knew he was leaving, it’s just the level he’s gone to that disappoints us.
On that, it’s actually a huge compliment to Lincoln City that fans are angry at a ‘sideways’ move. Do you remember the night we were knocked out of the FA Cup by Kettering at the Bank? A few days later, Pompey were 2-0 up against AC Milan in the UEFA Cup, drawing 2-2. Recently, they’ve been finalists in the EFL Trophy two years in a row, and since 2017/18 they’ve only once finished outside the top eight in this division, that being two seasons ago. Their average attendance is more than 18,000, and their budget is likely to be twice ours and still within their means. Sure, they finished eight points and a couple of places above us, but that’s a credit to us and our achievements as much as it is an indication of Poole moving sideways. They’re a big club underperforming season after season, and the fact it feels like a sideways move is a credit to us.
The truth is this – it doesn’t matter where he’s gone. Like Conor McGrandles before him, and many more going back through history, he’s left the club and is now not our concern. It was disappointing at first, but I’m not going to start downplaying his impact here or pretending he’s done something wrong. We follow a football club blindly, but the players that pull on the shirt are not fans, they’re employees doing a job, and if a better deal comes along, they take it. I don’t begrudge Regan that. Sure, it stings as a fan, but when you take that passion out of it, it’s a decent move for him – better money, stronger promotion prospects, and a bigger crowd to perform for.
Portsmouth have signed a cracking player for this level. That’s a fact. It hurts as we will miss him, and a team that comes here will have him in their side. Sadly, that’s football. Regan couldn’t have done more, not really. He didn’t say he was going to the Championship, he kept a dignified silence until he left. If he had said he was stepping up he could have attracted criticism. When a player leaves, especially for a club in the same division, it hurts, but Regan has done it in the right way and he shouldn’t be hammered for that.
I’ll try to stay focused on who we sign and what we do. Even if some news does sting when I first hear it.