He’s One of Our Own…

Published: 26/01/2024
By Joe Wood

Blackburn Rovers have reportedly turned down a bid of over £18m, from Crystal Palace, for their young midfielder Adam Wharton.

On the surface level, those numbers and names mean very little to us Pompey fans. But scratch the surface slightly, and a few things become a little bit more relevant.

Yesterday, over on ‘X’ (that’s still an abomination of a name, and an even more hellish platform), a rumour started up that Colby Bishop was the subject of a £1m bid from Millwall in the championship.

Firstly, I’ll begin this segment by saying I believe this account that started the rumour to be as genuine as Joey Barton’s crusade for equality. It’s one of those “In the know” accounts that knows about as many behind the scenes dealings as your average cocker spaniel. They truly follow the “throw enough at the wall and some of it will stick” mantra, to the nth degree.

Many fans however, did respond to this rumour/bait. There were people claiming that might only purchase his left eyebrow, and maybe a signed picture of him, at best and whilst that is almost certainly hyperbole, it does speak to the importance of him in this squad.

We’re not blessed with 3 or 4 strikers vying it out to be the main man, spearheading the attack for a promotion, or title, hunting team.

The idea of a Championship club turning down an £18.5m bid from a Premier League side isn’t all that daft when you consider that they deem the player to be a key part of their future.

So is he worth more money to Crystal Palace? Doubtful. Is he worth more to Blackburn? Definitely.

Ironically, Crystal Palace are the prime example of this phenomenon. How many transfer windows have gone by in the last 5 years where “Crystal Palace value Wilf Zaha at £85m”, and fans have lost their collective minds at the price?

It’s all because that’s how much he was worth to that team and that club at that specific time.

It will be the same with Colby Bishop. Like any footballer, there will be a value at which Pompey would have to pull the trigger and sell him for. Currently, I would argue that value far surpasses £1m, given the amount of time left in the window and the sparsity of striking options within the squad.

Now, here’s the second, and in my eyes, more important, takeaway from the opening paragraph.

Wharton is a product of Blackburn Rovers academy and is only 19 years old. Yet Palace are prepared, reportedly, to up their bid and splash over £20m on the youngster.

If you cast your mind back, the 2010’s as a period of time, and the Venkys ownership, were an absolute cavalcade of chaos for Blackburn.

Granted they still had all the infrastructure form their premier league days, but the club was, for a good while, in a bit of a bother.

Their fall from grace wasn’t as dramatic as our Blues, but it would have been no less traumatic, given that our peak was an FA cup and Blackburn’s was a Premier League title.

So we’re not 100% the same, but not far off.

However, they are shifting players they have brought through their academy for multi-million pound deals, and providing funds for the first team and future development, and we…


And haven’t.

For many years.

This is the model that I believe the Eisner’s are trying to follow, and it will of course, take time for it to come to fruition. But at the conclusion of this season, we will be 7 years into the Americans ownership and in that time, it is exceptionally difficult to come up with any player that has come through the academy and made more than a handful of appearances

For a one club city, this is probably the most egregious mistakes for our club to have made. Even if we’re unable to keep these youngsters, their sales can boost the club for years to come. However, the last proper academy products Pompey reaped the rewards from, either financially or in a performance sense, would be Conor Chaplin and Jack Whatmough, and those were right at the very start of the Eisner tenure.


The most recent example of Pompey succeeding in this manner, had literally (in the proper sense of the word, not the Redknapp-ism of it) nothing to do with the Eisners. That example is turning Adam Webster into a reported £500k and first-team regular Matt Clarke.

We don’t expect miracles overnight, or huge domes to be built yesterday, but every team up and down the country loves “one of our own” to come through the ranks and for them to be the lad that did well from “round our way”.

The News spent several years ordaining Mason Mount as a pseudo replacement to fill this void, almost forcing Pompey fans into living vicariously through him and Chelsea, but even they must have preferred there be a real hometown hero.

Those players can carry great favour with a fan base, and can act as a focal point for a team in crisis, or a bright spot on a patchy campaign. As things stand Pompey don’t, and haven’t had one of these for a number of years, and it’s high time we got one.