As he sat discussing the challenge awaiting him at Shamrock Park everywhere that Paul Doolin’s eyes turned were images harking back to the club’s glory days.
He could be forgiven if something of a surreal feeling overcame him as looking down on Doolin from the walls was his younger self in team pictures from the Ports’ halcyon days in the early 1990s.
Ronnie McFall paid £20,000 to Derry City to place Doolin as the final piece in his jigsaw, bolstering a midfield that won the league title on the final day of the 1989-90 season.
The following season they were crowned champions with five game to go and won three other competitions, including the Irish Cup to claim a historic double.
The contrast now, as Doolin returns as interim manager 31 years after he first arrived, could hardly be more stark with even the most optimistic of Portadown fans knowing that trophies aren’t on the horizon any time soon.
Instead Doolin’s task over the next 14 games is to steer the Ports to safety at the bottom of the Danske Bank Premiership.
There are, however, lessons to be taken from the era when Portadown were the dominant force in the country.
“At the moment, let’s be fair, we’re not setting our target on winning trophies, but in those days when the club was winning things the attitude of players, the behaviour of players, the way players appeared at the club, it was brilliant,” said Doolin, who will lead the Ports for the first time when they head to Larne tonight – ironically the same team he faced on his competitive debut in August 1990.
“That all leads to good behaviours - we are looking for players to train well, their attitudes to be good, to look after themselves.
“Particularly more so now, with four full-time teams in the league and we are a club part-time basically, but I always say there is no such thing as full-time or part-time, you are either professional or your not and attitude has to be a full-time thing.”
Getting points on the board is now the priority and Doolin admits it may not be pretty.
“I’m not behind the door about it, the last few years you’re not fashionable if you want to defend, but you look at Manchester City, last year all the talk was that they hadn’t conceded a goal for so many games and the same about other teams,” said Doolin.
“That’s okay if you are here for four or five years, but if you want to win games you need to be good defensively and that’s the bottom line.
“If you want to win trophies or you want to avoid relegation, if you aren’t good defensively then you don’t have a chance. You’re starting behind the eight ball already.
“Unfortunately the club has won two games out of 24 and if you concede two goals in a game they you need to score three to win it.
“If you are able to be good defensively then you always have that chance.”