How a Christian soldier set a Primus example

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Linvoy Primus, a hero to Portsmouth fans, hung up his boots yesterday. Devoted fan Steve Morgan pays his respects.

As Portsmouth’s heroes made their way up the 39 steps (or whatever it is nowadays, with that funny bit where they disappear round the back) to the Royal Box to receive their 2008 FA Cup medals and parade the trophy, there was a moment missed by the television cameras – but one all who sport Pompey blue will remember for the rest of their lives.

It was the lung-bursting cheer reserved for a man who hadn't kicked a ball that season. And it wasn’t the man who now manages Spurs.

No, this was in honour of, excuse the hackneyed phrase, a man’s man: Linvoy Primus.

Or ‘Sir’ Linvoy, as we say on the south coast when paying respects to God’s footballer, the man who yesterday hung up his boots, aged 36, finally conceding defeat in his own battle of wounded knee.

In what would have been 10 summers with the club next July, he played 219 games.

It’s not many in the grand scheme of things; a mere stripling compared with, say, Jimmy Dickinson or Alan Knight, men who share close on 1,600 games between them.

But it’s not, despite what the papers and telly would have you believe, always about appearances and medals. It’s about the times, about how you conducted yourself: the mark you left behind.

If ever a youngster wanted a role model in these times of shrinking sporting morality, Primus was it: a player who maximised every last inch of his modest gifts and wonderfully found himself surpassing them, his rise concurrent with that of Pompey, from perennial Championship strugglers to gleeful Premier League gatecrashers.

It was a marriage made in heaven. Without any hint of exaggeration, Primus’ upward career curve was the modern Pompey story made flesh, a tale running on seemingly parallel scripts.

A thoroughbred performer in waiting, he muscled his way into our promotion team in the 2002/03 campaign through injury and couldn’t be dislodged.

He ended it divisional player of the year, trousering every supporters’ club award going.

Whether nutmegging Thierry Henry (a man who could do with a role model himself) or dispossessing Wayne Rooney with a penalty-box tackle timed with metronomic accuracy, Primus’s passing makes Pompey hearts – heavy enough already this season – a little more weighty.

He played just one game last term – coming on as a late substitute against Sunderland in the final home match to a standing ovation, his every touch cheered to the rafters by fans who’d spent the previous 10 minutes chanting his name.

It confused the hell out of Ricky Sbragia’s team, who conceded a third goal shortly after his arrival.

It turned out to be his last hoorah.

But it was one of those spine-tingling events: one that makes you want to turn to the bloke in the seat next to you and blub, all embarrassed that your club is the best in the world – only to find him about to do the same to you.

Linvoy appeared almost embarrassed at the reception, but that was the man all over – less bothered about what football could do for him, more what he could do for it, enjoying the moment and giving your best – 100 percent, down the line. 

He will leave a gaping hole, but a stack of memories that cannot be erased.

Those of us with a realistic view of Pompey’s current plight cannot help but think his exit is yet another sign of the Chimes.

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