I think its important to make clear now that what I mean is the misery of being a mid-league, mid-table side that no one has any comment about.
Apart from a couple of seasons supporting Chelsea when Di Matteo was a player and a couple supporting Man Utd leading up to the triple I have been a Portsmouth supporter all my life. In this time I have seen my club sell John Aloisi for peanuts to Coventry, Robert Prosinecki keep the side out of relegation trouble single handedly, Harry Redknapp buying a new team every season before leaving every time the money dried up, and of course the FA Cup win.
Frankly now these memories seem to belong to another club as the team I support has more recently been crippled by debts and mistreatment by more owners than any club should have in a lifetime let alone half a decade. Once we were outside bets for the UEFA Cup spots and now we look set to spend next season in League Two, with no training ground and confusion as to who actually owns what at Fratton Park. On a personal note I look increasing likely to be making a trip to Grimsby to honour an ill-fated pact to go to all the games between the two sides.
For those unfamiliar to Portsmouth’s plight, in short, the club overspent on bank loans to win the FA Cup, then changed hands several times in one season, entered administration twice whilst the debt level seemingly remains untouched. The club are currently embroiled in a courtroom battle between Chanrai (twice former owner who changes his mind on whether he wants to own the club as often as you eat a hot dinner), the administrators PFK and the Portsmouth Supporters Trust for ownership of the ground and from that the club. It is unknown to the fans who will be victorious in the battle and what the future will hold for our club under either ownership, with the consensus being Chanrai will suck any remaining life out of the club to pay what the club supposedly owes him. The future under the Supporters Trust is not necessarily brighter, with concerns emerging over the level of funding actually available to the Trust and where this is coming from. The proposal that a property developer would buy Fratton Park and the surrounding land on behalf of the club was not widely accepted, nor is the current suggestion of using a council loan. As of 15/1/13, the Trust stated they intended to buy the ground themselves. I’m sure I’m not alone amongst the fans in expressing concern over where the money suddenly came from. This all in the same week that a second High Court adjournment over the fixed price of Fratton Park only adds to the fears that Portsmouth FC does not have long left to live.
With the squad numbers dropping (only recently propped up by the promotion of two youth team players) it seems to be a long time since the likes of Defoe, Crouch, Diarra, and Johnson were playing for the first team. This has now become the norm for Portsmouth fans and to be honest we never deserved to have such names in our first team to begin with. I would be happy to see my team move past the risk of going out of business and sit somewhere in mid-table in league one for the foreseeable future. However, I remember when I attended Pompey games with my father when Portsmouth were a lower mid-table Division One ream just hoping to stay above the relegation spaces. As much as I enjoyed attending the games I couldn’t get into the team.
It was during an end of season clash with Barnsley where Portsmouth needed to win and for results to go their way to ensure relegation survival. After winning 3-0 and storming the pitch after the final whistle I was hooked for good. It is this memory that I remember fondest, more so than winning the FA Cup, although that may be because I was in attendance for the Barnsley game rather than watching on a tiny telly in my awful north Yorkshire student pad where I watched the FA Cup win. I like to think it is because we were celebrating the preservation of our misery. Another year flirting with relegation lay ahead for us.
We all want to see out hometown side prosper and not everyone can say they’ve seen their local team win a trophy. Whether you think Portsmouth are hard done by or deserve all that comes their way, I wonder how many would trade their current position for a cup win and then fall for a few years. Leeds United almost reached the final of the Champions League, only to fall to League One, and whilst Portsmouth didn’t quite make it that far we can take comfort in their recovery and continued existence. Local rivals Southampton also toiled with financial trouble only to be rescued in the lower divisions and are thriving now. As much as I would love to see Southampton relegated from the Premiership, for spending so much on Jay Rodriguez and whatever they pay Gaston Ramirez for him to turn down Liverpool for them, I can’t begrudge them putting their club back together.
Many supporters talk about their club moving to a new stadium but I don’t think anyone in Portsmouth has any illusions about us moving from Fratton Park in the foreseeable future. What we would like right now is to have a conclusion to the power struggle for Fratton Park, leave administration, take our points deduction, get relegated and be left to the misery we once enjoyed so fondly in the past.
Bad Football Joke of the Week:
Forest fans had a shock this morning after being told a world class defender was seen entering the training ground. Turned out to be Hutton dressed as Lahm