Spyin' Kop - Portsmouth away (FA Cup) 29th January

Posted by blurred on January 26, 2006, 07:55:48 PM

The best cup competition in the world. A big day out for the minnows. A chance at a fabled ‘giant-killing’. The clichés almost literally drip off the handles of the famous Cup in its early stages, as it pits little against large, ‘haves’ against ‘have-nots’; but we could talk in clichés until the cows come home. The third round this year saw the traditional pluck of the non-league sides taking on the might of the Premiership big boys, but ultimately succumb. Attentions had to be turned to the likes of Leyton Orient and Leicester to provide the traditional ‘shock’ element on third round day, but the two sides that meet at Fratton Park in BBC’s Sunday tea-time slot each successfully negotiated their respective ties, with varying degrees of ease. Portsmouth had a fairly comfortable victory away at an Ipswich side who are struggling in the Championship this year, whereas we, well, we all know what happened down at Kenilworth Road.

Portsmouth v Liverpool
Fratton Park
Sunday 29th January
Kick Off: 18:00 (live on BBC)

Although ‘only’ 15 places separate the two teams, and they share the same division, the contrast in their fortunes could not be starker. While Liverpool have been on (until last Sunday) a superlative run of form, Pompey have been struggling and scratching around at the foot of the table, with first managerial and now boardroom instability to deal with. Indeed, Pompey’s win at Ipswich is the only one they have managed thus far in 2006 in four attempts, including a fairly embarrassing 5-0 humping last time out away at Birmingham City. 

The Cup, as they say, is a great leveller (there are those damn clichés again), although fortunately the pitch won’t have to be; Fratton Park has been re-laid ahead of the clash at the weekend. Despite being an ‘all-Premiership’ tie, there would be no small measure of shock in the football world were Portsmouth to pull a result out of the bag. Indeed, they have form in this sort of clash, and one need only look back to 2004 when Liverpool were dumped out of the cup by this weekend’s opponents. One thing’s for sure, we won’t have it easy, and the players will have the lessons from Old Trafford and Luton ringing in their ears (as well as that bloody bell) as they walk out onto the pitch on Sunday evening.

But for now, it’s time to focus on our opponents:

Portsmouth Club Info:

Official Name:
Portsmouth City Football Club
Address: Fratton Park, Frogmore Road, SOUTHSEA, PO4 8RA
Ground: Fratton Park
Capacity: 20,200
Manager: Harry Redknapp
Chairman: Milan Mandaric
Directors: Fred Dinenage, Terry Brady

”You might not know this, but…” aka ‘Pompey Facts’

April 1927: Portsmouth are promoted to the first division on goal average (goals scored divided by goals against). The margin of 1/200th part of a goal over Manchester City is the narrowest ever.

December 1931: Portsmouth and Newcastle United are involved in the only Football League match believed to have been played without a single corner being awarded.

March 1939: Portsmouth and Huddersfield become the first two teams to wear shirts numbered 1-11 in a club match during their semi-final encounter at Highbury. Pompey won 2-1.

February 1950: Portsmouth FC make the proposal to the FA that in future referees should raise their arm to indicate to players and spectators that a free kick is indirect. Now universally adopted.

September 1987: Portsmouth striker John Kerr becomes the first susbtitute to be substitued in a Football League match during the 0-0 draw at Watford in the first division.

The view from the best away end in the country…? ;)

So, why are they known as Pompey?

The nickname 'Pompey' is a widely used term to refer not just to the football club, but to the whole city. The name 'Pompey' is almost certainly of naval extraction and Mike Neasom's book Pompey: The History of Portsmouth Football Club sets out three main theories.

Legend has it that a snoozing, drunken sailor interrupted a lecture on the Roman Empire given by a naval temperance worker. Upon hearing that an emperor of that name had died, the sailor shouted out 'Poor old Pompey'. More substantive evidence records a group of Portsmouth-based sailors, who scaled Pompey's Pillar near Alexandria, Egypt, in 1781 and became known as the 'Pompey Boys', while others claim the name originates from a French battleship La Pompée, captured in 1793, and which eventually became the guardship to Portsmouth Harbour.

Now we’ve got that cleared up :-\ it’s time to crack on with the fans feature. I’d like to give thanks to Dan Taylor, Secretary to the Portsmouth Football Supporters Club London, and those on Pompey Fans who took their time to answer Spyin’ Kop’s questions this week, notably Mike Hall, Paul, George Stevens and the user by the name of broom658. Here’s what they had to say when Spyin’ Kop came knocking on their inbox…

So… Harry Redknapp. He wasn’t supposed to be coming back, right? What was that all about then?

Dan Taylor: The best way of looking at the situation is to compare it to splitting up with a girl you once loved because she’d slept with someone else. You might eventually accept her back but there will always be an element of doubt and mistrust. The reception Harry has received since coming back has definitely been mixed. “I’ve heard some fans say, ‘If you’ve accepted Harry coming back, then you’re just a Premiership fan and not a true Pompey’. Whilst others have been quick to forget and consider him to be the best man for the job, whether they still do after the 5-0 drubbing by Birmingham remains to be seen. One thing is definite though; Harry’s return has divided the fans, and as a result Fratton Park will be a lot less noisey when your lot come to visit.

Paul: Certainly the best manager PFC have had since Jim Smith in the early 90's.  Shouldn't have gone in the first place!

Mike Hall: Feckin Judas. What it is all about is that Milan was desperate and swallowed his pride and Judas had zero chance of another Premiership club being mug enough to take him.

More to the point - Alain Perrin – what was that all about then?

DT: Well football is all about results and for whatever the reason Perrin wasn’t getting the points that we needed, or expected. I don’t think we had been humiliated by any other team; a 3-0 defeat to you at Anfield was hardly a pasting; but for many it was the manner of the defeats that put the final nail in Reggie’s Portsmouth Coffin. Liverpool was a good case in point. Everyone accepts that you can’t always go away from home and play attacking football, and that one up front might well prove the most effective system, but if it’s clearly not working then you expect the manager to be brave and go for broke. Stick on an extra striker and try pull a goal or two back. It’s better to see your team lose 4-2, having shown a lot of effort, than to lose 2-0 and look like you’re frightened of the opposition for 90 minutes.

Some may argue that Milan Mandaric did not provide Perrin with the appropriate financial backing in terms of purchasing a quality striker. I mean what self respecting clubs sells a 20 goal a season striker and then replaces him with a free transfer in the final 24 hrs of the transfer window. Don’t get me wrong Silva is a fantastic player but he is not the goal poacher that Yakubu was. Added to which he is in the twilight of his career. Personally though I think there were enough players in the squad that Perrin could have worked with. All in all I think Perrin was extremely dignified throughout his time on the south coast and chose to do his talking on the training ground and on the pitch. A refreshing change from previous managers. Unfortunately something got lost in translation.   

Paul: Clueless!  PFC fans are asking the same question!

MH: Perrin was hard done by. He had a great track record in France and did well last season. Trouble was he signed about 2 of our batch of incoming mediocrities and wandering itinerant tinkers this season. The ever so wise Zajec signed these players along with our illustrious Chairman. In fact, Perrin did alright with this squad but was not going to keep us up unless given money in the January window. Effectively, he took the blame for the same old mismanagement.

What’s your appraisal of your season so far, and how’s it been different in your brief time under ‘Appy ‘Arry?

DT: To be honest I’d rather forget about the season so far as it’s been a complete nightmare. I wish I could wake up and find it’s all just been a bad dream. I’d like to say that Harry has come in and installed some grit and determination, but the result against Birmingham and the toffees before that would suggest otherwise. He’s won a couple of games, true, but they were games I would have expected us to win, and win well. The manner of the wins was far from convincing and unless we buy in some QUALITY players I don’t fancy our chances of staying up.

MH: Rubbish. Earlier this season we were organised but mediocre. We had a plan and were well drilled but several of the old guard weren't happy at being asked to be fit. The newer players were average, the sort who level up with good players and down with poor ones. We gradually spiralled downwards. Arry has come in and turned it all around, now we can't defend either and he has broken our Premiership record for defeats twice in three away games. Nice one you feckin eejut. Most fans can't stand the bloke and only tolerated it because we had no other credible candidates left. And it upset the scummers, of course, but what we did to them last season it looks like they are doing to us this time.

Is the FA Cup a welcome distraction, or an irrelevance?

DT: It’s a welcome distraction for me and I would put a shot at a cup final over staying up, but only if we were guaranteed a place in the final. The chance to win some silver wear won’t come around to often for Pompey and the Premiership doesn’t provide much opportunity for the smaller clubs to win things. 

Paul: It’s a welcome distraction, and another game to gel the new players.

MH: Normally the latter, definitely not the former, now it is simply an enormous opportunity for the club to hack the fans off by charging exorbitant prices, £35 adults and £20 children, at the worst possible time. If Judas puts out a reserve side in front of our 10,000 fans then he can expect ‘Judas Out’ chants.

George Stevens: Complete distraction. Be nice to get the team playing as a team and winning a match, but frankly Mr Shankly, the Bolton match is far more important.

[correspondent’s note – opinion seemed divided from those who responded to this on pompey-fans.com, but user ‘w115’ was unequivocal with his opinion: “I don't believe any of this nonsense about cup games not mattering. Every game is important and should be treated as such. A good performance and result on Sunday could be just the spur we need to start a good run in the league.” He did go and spoil it somewhat by going on to answer the following question – “Whose name is on it this year? Pompey, of course...” ;) ]

Nail your colours to the mast – who’s going to win the Cup this year?

DT: One of the usual suspects I’d say. If you beat us I’d say you have a very good chance of going all the way. Your result against Luton would suggest your name might be on it.

Paul: I'd like to say Pompey but realistically, that ain’t gonna happen!  The usual suspects: Man United, Arsenal, Liverpool or Chelsea.  Don't take any notice of me though, cos Tottenham were my outside bet!

MH: Who cares? It won't be us.

What’s the latest with your new stadium, and is this something that has the fans full backing (unlike moving away from Anfield for us Reds)?

DT: It would have the fans full backing if there were any signs of construction work beginning. The development of the new stadium is tied into a development at the back of the home end. A down market, but still expensive, version of Chelsea village. The club has kept giving fans assurances that the hold up relates to planning permission for the village. We can’t start the stadium without it. But until the first few bricks are laid then I don’t think anyone really believes it will happen. We’ve learnt not to be too optimistic given previous attempts at redevelopment. 

MH: The new ground has the fans universal backing, with the only problem being that it seems to be taking a bit longer than it took Aslan to go back to Narnia. Apparently we have been waiting for a letter from the water board for 9 months so I guess they don't have a phone.

GS: I'll believe it when I take my grandchildren to the opening ceremony. Been promised for many years, and now, I just don't believe in it. If, and that's a big IF, it did, then at least it's in the same place and we don't move to some desolate wasteland (e.g. Boro) but can stay in the same desolate wasteland. Realistically Fratton Park, while home, is looking rather "lived in", so it needs to happen, but so much needs to change behind the scenes, it's a long old list...

Foreign owners/money coming into the game – good thing or bad? And has your opinion changed any following the appearance of a certain Mr Gaydamak?

DT: I probably don’t speak for the majority and find myself in an awkward position. Whilst I want the club to develop and grow, I don’t want it losing its identity and the relationship it has with its fans. That’s what makes supporting a club like Pompey enjoyable. Having money is a double edged sword. You might gain the success that Chelsea have had (or at least some of it) but then you also begin to lose touch with reality. 

Paul: I was dead against Chlsea buying their way to success, but the shoe’s on the other foot now!  Time will tell whether it's good or bad but early indications are it's pricing the true fans out the game in my opinion. So far so good with all, but Olisidebe and Davis stand out above the others.

MH: Mine’s changed, but I'm a hypocrite. Basically what difference does 'foreign' make? Union Jack Hayward? Blackburn, Wigan, Fulham all have bought success like Chelea but on a different scale. We want some too. We have had 40 years of getting beat by rubbish little teams and now we want to be back in contention - we want the big gates again, a big ground and a shot at winning something, not honest to goodness home defeats 4-2 to Crewe and Port Vale. We want to go back to the days when we went to Old Trafford and gubbed them 3-0 without our 3 England Internationals being present. Get in.

You’ve certainly been splashing the cash around recently – have you been getting good value for money? Who do you rate from your new signings?

DT: I’ve not seen enough of them to pass judgement to be honest. Mendes looks the best of them and Davis could work out to be a very good buy. My only concern is whether they have the fight in them for a relegation battle. 

MH: The trouble is that the new signings are better than the rest and we look disjointed. It will take some time to calm down but we should not quite be written
off yet. Give it till february then do it.

And are there any players coming up through the ranks that we might not have heard of – ones for the future?

DT: We’ve really struggled of late to produce our own. There’s a couple of names being banded about but Gary O’Neil was the last to come through.

Paul: James Keane.  Recently on loan at Bournemouth.  18 year old forward and shows promise.

MH: Yes, there are loads coming through the ranks you haven't heard of and they are definitely ones for the future: the future of Tesco’s in Northarbour who have careers for eager young people. We don't have an Academy and have produced one decent player in 13 years - Gary O'Neill. The rest play for Bognor. The good prospects go to the academy at scum, to our lasting shame. This is the next priority after the stadium gets built, just after Milan conquers Mars in a Dan Dare costume.

Are they (new cash-injecting Russian, manager and new players) going to be enough to keep you up?

DT: If I’m honest my head says no, but my heart says yes. There’s always hope.

Paul: No!

MH: I doubt it but we have spent the last 11 years fighting relegation bar the promotion season with 3 last day escapes. I have learnt not to write us off.

Any particular memories of games between the two sides?

DT: The last time we played you in the cup at Anfield, Matty Taylor equalized and then ran the length of the pitch to come and celebrate with the fans. Other than that I remember listening to the Semi Final on the radio when I was a kid. The thought of getting to a final, and the sound of the Pompey Chimes ringing out over the radio made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

MH: Yes, Matt Taylor running the length of the Anfield pitch to celebrate while my Liverpool supporting nephew hung his head in his hands. The Berger game when we came up was the best - finally we were back in the big time where we have spent so many years and finally able to compete with the top sides again, scoring early and winning the game. Brilliant, and paid you back for being so jammy in 92 :)

Two words: Best ever player to pull on a Pompey shirt

DT: Jimmy Dickinson

Paul: Mark Hateley

MH: Jimmy Dickinson

Broom658: Thierry Henry

[correspondent’s note – Henry polled well in the ‘best player’ category from those who responded on Pompey Fans, as did Robert Prosinecki]

Two words: Favourite ever player to pull on a Pompey shirt

DT: Paul Merson

Paul: Paul Walsh

MH: Paul Merson

Broom658: Favourite players are for girls

Who do you see as being your biggest threat against us, and can you pull off another one of those annoying Portsmouth performances against the Reds?

DT: Hmmmmmmmmm. Can’t think of one I’m afraid. But if I was to have a punt on it, I’d say Gary O’Neil might pop up with a goal or two.

Paul: At home with a point to prove after 5-0 loss, they'll be up for it.  Main threat without Lua Lua will be new boy Olisidebe or Gary O'Neill.  Future England player in the making.

MH: Our biggest threat will be your team catching pneumonia in the dressing room.

Finally, care to predict a score for the match?

DT: 1-0 to us.  And I’m saying that with a rye smile on my face.

Paul: LFC still going to be too strong.  Liverpool to win 2-1 or 2-0 I reckon.

MH: No

Readers are also invited to read Colin Illingworth’s preview on the game, for the excellent www.squarefootball.com, for which your correspondent has provided the Red view on things and Dan Taylor (who was kind enough to provide me with some excellent answers) sees things from the Blue side of the fence. If you want to read (and I’d be bound to recommend it, wouldn’t I?) then all you need do is Click Here.

Thanks once again to Colin, Dan, and all those who have helped put this one together. Best of luck to Pompey in their remaining games of the season (except those against us of course ;) ) and good luck in avoiding the drop.


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