As many of you will most probably know I am a huge, die hard Pompey fan!
Like many of you I grew up watching football with my dad. I was just 8 years old when Mum agreed that it was OK for him to take me to my first match. Dad then asked me that big question – who do you want to support? Of course I was never ever going to say Southampton…
It actually pains me to write that word, let alone say it! My southern team options at the time were Portsmouth (Pompey), Reading (Biscuit boys), Bournemouth (Cherries), Brighton (Seagulls) or Aldershot (Shots).
Of course I chose Pompey as I secretly knew that it was Dad’s team and that he had been many a time to Fratton Park to watch the blues with his family. However, it was good of him to ask as I know I won’t give Alfie and Betsy any choice on who to support!
I started to watch Pompey play in the season of 1986-87. I must have been a lucky charm as we had some what of a good season getting ourselves promoted to what was then called the ‘First division’. Our taste for top flight football was short lived as the following season we found ourselves relegated back to the Second Division and here we remained by the skin of our teeth until we reached the dizzy heights of the Premiership in 2003.
Growing up, I loved my Saturdays, spending time with Dad and visiting Fortress Fratton. Over the years, Dad and I have had many a ritual for match days. Our first stop on our travels south is a good lunch to set us up for the game! We’ve made many a pub our match day home in Portsmouth including The Good Companion, The Still & West, The Blue Bell Inn (Emsworth) and even Mick’s Monster Burger van!
After a good feed we head straight for the ground, dump the car somewhere safe, layer up with our supporter scarfs and hats and walk into the stadium. Ever since my first match we’ve always sat in the same section of the ground – North stand, Upper F section, row L. Once seated it’s time to find a pound for the kitty and guess the match day score! I think I’ve only won it twice but then again I’m always the optimist and never settle for a 1-1 draw! No negative bets allowed either!
We’ve made quite a few friends over the years due to where we sit each game – including Danny my Manager at Alton Sports Centre. It was a bit of a surprise when I turned up for an interview to find out that my future manager only sat three seats along from me at Fratton Park!
I’ve visited many an away ground to watch Pompey on their travels and have very fond memories and tales of travelling to games with family and friends.
To name but a few I’ve been lucky enough over the years to visit Old Trafford, Main Road, Emirates, Molineux, Bet365 Stadium, Craven Cottage, St Andrew’s, Vale Park, Vicarage Road, Deepdale, Anfield, City Ground and the Ricoh Arena…
However, my favourite stadium to visit over the years has to be Wembley! A truly magical place for all footy fans and somewhere that both my Dad and I never imagined we would ever visit as a Pompey fan. It pays to dream…
In fact we’ve now been fortunate to watch Pompey play at Wembley 6 times, including once this year:
- FA CUP – winning the semi final in 2008 against West Brom (1-0), final in 2008 against Cardiff (1-0), semi final in 2010 against Tottenham (2-0) and losing the final in 2010 to Chelsea (1-0)
- Comunity Shield – losing on penalties in 2008 to Manchester United 3-1
- EFL Checkatrade Trophy – winning the final in 2019, 3-2 on penalties to Sunderland after a 0-0 draw
Like many football fans being a Pompey fan has had its ups and downs! There’s been joy and elation, heartbreak and pure anger.
When your team wins there’s this immense pleasure that you feel. It is just unexplainable and it involves a lot of jumping around, fist clenching in the air and lots of hugging!
Watching Pompey has given me lots of ‘edge-of-your-seat action’ over the years and I’ve experienced many a ‘squeaky bum time’ but being a Pompey fan has also taught me some valuable life lessons.
Such as, if you try hard enough, you can achieve anything (Pompey winning the FA CUP), you can’t win all the time (back to back relegation) and nothing lasts forever (Premier League status).
‘Nothing is a certainty’ resonates loud this season, especially as we’ve thrown away automatic promotion which seemed a dead set at Christmas. Santa never was a Pompey fan! The EFL play-offs now beckon and the possibility of another trip to Wembley. I’ve never experienced the dreaded play-offs before and I have to say I’m very nervous!
What will be, will be and whatever happens over the next few weeks I will still be singing from the roof tops ‘Play up Pompey, Pompey play up…’