Spyin' Kop: Portsmouth at home

Posted by Sarah Deane on November 15, 2005, 05:57:37 PM

Chasing a fourth successive win, the Redmen will no doubt have half their minds on a little football match against Real Betis next Wednesday, but first Anfield must welcome our visitors from the south coast. Despite currently struggling in 15th position, Portsmouth have always given Liverpool a decent game, and the odd scare, but with only three places separating us in the table, a solid result is a must if Liverpool are to claw their way back up the table. Our disappointing domestic status, ten games into the season, will make Pompey's job harder this Saturday as Liverpool aim to capitalise on a recent resurgence in form.

Liverpool v Portsmouth
Saturday 19th November 2005
KO - 3.00pm
Referee - P Walton

Current League Positions: Liverpool 12th Pompey 15th

Last 4 League meetings: Liverpool W2 D1 L1 (we don't mention the 2004 FA Cup.....)

The Club

Portsmouth FC

Nickname: Pompey
Founded: 1898
Address: Fratton Park, Frogmore Road, Southsea, Hampshire, PO4 8RA.

Capacity: 20,200
Club Honours

League Champions: 1948/49, 1949/50

Charity Shield Winners: 1949

FA Cup Winners: 1939

Players To Watch: Taylor, LuaLua, Vukic

Recent form: LWLDDL

Portsmouth's 'golden age' of pre- and post-war football has cemented their reputation as a team that battles for everything. Often patronised as a club merely here to make up the numbers, Pompey have proved on numerous occasions that they're an outfit to be taken seriously - and Liverpool, of all teams, knows that better than most, having been on the receiving end of a Pompey spanking a couple of times in recent years. First promoted to the Premiership in 2003, they've fought hard to stay there and, notwithstanding boardroom struggles and managerial upheaval, you can be sure that Saturday's game will see a Portsmouth side eager to banish the bad press and other gossip of recent weeks, and they shouldn't be underestimated.

Pompey Trivia

* Haven't won at home all season, but two away wins (Everton & Sunderland)
* Used to be called the 'Gunners'
* Uber-athlete CB Fry used to 'help them out' on the pitch occasionally
* Held the FA Cup for seven consecutive years (due to the intervention of World War II)
* Fratton Park used to hold 50,000+ people
* Have the oldest chant in football history (allegedly) - "Play up Pompey, Pompey play up" to the 'tune' of a striking clock.
* Saved from bankruptcy in 1976 after supporters raised £25,000
* In 1996, Terry Venables bought the club for £1
* Record win was 9-1 v Notts County in 1927
* Player with most appearances for the club is Jimmy Dickinson (834)
* Highest transfer fee paid was £2m to Vitesse Arnhem for Dejan Stefanovic in 2003
* Top League goal scorer is Peter Harris with 194 goals between 1946-60
* Record attendance was 51,385 for a 1949 FA Cup tie against Derby County.   

Those friendly chaps at Pompey Fans have been kind enough to answer a few of our Ďmust-knowí questions about the upcoming game, so thanks to Colin Farmery and Brendan Bone for taking time out of their hectic Paul-Walsh-Worshipping schedules to talk to us. I know how time-consuming that can beÖ ;)

There have been many ex-Liverpool players on Pompey's books down the years. In fact, quite a few of them played better for you lot than they did for us. In your opinion, which ex-Red was most important to you and why?

C: Patrik Berger was the classiest (but most inconsistent) by a country mile, but the best 'ex-Red' signing we ever made was Paul Walsh (albeit via Spurs) who almost got us into the Premiership in 1993 with a combination of his skill and first-class attitude. Chris Lawler the most useless..

B: Paul Walsh, was the best player to play in a Pompey shirt in my generation when he signed for us in 1992, was the catalyst that nearly got us promoted, and will forever have a place in Pompey folklore

You've been very disappointing at home this season - why?

C: Simple. We don't score enough goals. With someone like Yakubu in the side we would have beaten Villa, Brum and Newcastle and you wouldn't be asking this question...

B: Two reasons, the expectations are too high, and we donít have enough firepower to replace Yakubu

Fred Dinenage, Pompey Director and afternoon telly legend. Does he ever tell Mandy How 2 run the club, do you think?

C: Fred is the closest we have got to a celebrity fan and no more. He might tell MM the time if asked, I suppose. To be fair he has followed Pompey since the 1960s.

B: I wouldnít have thought so, letís face it, most of his experiments were so naff, would you trust him to run a football club?

How do you feel about the new stadium plans? Being in a similar boat, do Pompey fans feel as emotional as us about leaving their home behind? Or is it necessary in order to progress as a club?

C: Fratton Park is a dump and it has now lost its 'shock' value for these pampered Premiership footballers. Crikey, even Liverpool managed a win there last season. Without a re-developed ground with around 30k capacity we have no future as a Premiership club. We are fortunate the plans mean we stay where we are, but most fans will only believe it will happen when they're finally sitting in it

B: Because of the situation of Fratton Park at present, its impossible to build on what we have got, so itís a necessary evil unfortunately. Whether it actually gets built, now thereís another question!

Will Portsmouth ever again see the days when you filled a 50,000 seater stadium?

C: Probably not. Somewhere between losing to you in the 1992 Cup semi-final to knocking you out of the Cup in 2004 we went from being a 'sleeping giant' with an undoubted fan-base to support regular 30,000 gates in the top flight, to a provincial minnow clinging gamely to the Premiership. In the end we were too crap for too long (50 years) and when the good times rolled the world had moved on and found something else to do...

B: No, pure and simple, Sky Sports and the Premier League have put an end to that, because of the price of going to see a club play, and the cheaper option is to buy a satellite dish.

Despite the club's official denials, Milan Mandaric has hinted that he'll leave the club within three seasons. Something to regret, or something to look forward to?

C: Tough one. Milan has brought unprecedented success to any Pompey fan under the age of 60. He will probably end up being judged on his manner of leaving however. A new ground and mid-table in the Premiership will leave us fans forever in his debt. No ground and halfway up the Championship on the other hand...

B: He openly admitted, so we know he will go, he will leave the club in a better position than he took over, and if we do get the stadium, then he will have accomplished everything he set out to do. We will always be indebted to him, but PFC is bigger than Milan Mandaric.

What advice would you give to the supporters of other clubs currently being targeted by American tycoons? Keep footy English? Or get the money where you can?

C: Top flight football is big business. The biggest businesses are in the US. Professional football sold its soul when the Premiership was created. So shall ye reap what ye shall sow...

B: For anyone to live with Chelsea, itís the only way to go, if you are happy your club just surviving then donít take the money, if u want to compete take it. Personally, I think the second division or whatever they call it these days had much more passion than the Premiership will ever muster.

San Jose Earthquakes, Standard Liege, Nice, Pompey -  will Milan be collecting any others after you?

C: Milan is no spring chicken, so I expect Pompey to be his last club. I hope he will be affectionately applauded every so often as Club President

B: He wonít, firstly he is nearly potless, and secondly, he will kill himself if he takes another club, and has the problems he has had here.

Laurent Robert has come in for a lot of criticism for his regular outbursts since coming to you on loan Ė hero or villain?

C: He's not playing well enough. He can do better than one long-range goal and some indifferent dead ball deliveries. Put that right and he can say what he likes...

B: Le Enfant Terrible, every club should have one, after all, what would the tabloids have to write about, when the transfer window closes. Robert says the things others are afraid to say, amen to free speech.

Is it safe to mention Harry Redknapp yet?

C: I think so. Beating Saints 4-1 last April exorcised a whole host of ghosts and demons. He's pitied for what he chucked away at Pompey by most these days...

B: I donít think many people will ever forgive Harry for what he did, however, he presided over the best couple of years at Pompey I will ever see, and I for one will be eternally grateful for that.

Alain Perrin - What's going on there, then?

C: Out of the frying pan into the fire I'm afraid. Pompey are a mini Marseille. Passionate, yet fickle, fans. Intense local media interest. Slightly chaotic infrastructure. I bet none of that was mentioned in the job description! I back him to come good.

B: French coach, great ideas, not great communication I think

Would you rather go on a decent Cup run this season, or concentrate on trying to improve your League position?

C: Staying up is priority number one. It's just a pity that our aim in our third season in the Premiership is exactly the same as it was in August 2003

B: Premier league status has to be number one priority always.

Your recent record against Liverpool isn't half bad. Fancy your chances Saturday, then?

C: I always fancy our chances. Even Chelsea have to lose now and again. No team has truly turned us over this season and I expect Saturday to be close.

B: A draw would be nice, but its not about us, its about which Liverpool turns up. If you are on form we donít have a chance. If you donít then we could come home with a point.

Who's your best player?

C: No one stands out anymore. We have a team of competent, yet journeymen, Premiership pros. However, on his day Lualua gives us something different.

B: Zvonimir Vukic, bags of class, just needs to do it in every game

January Transfer Window Ė Who do you buy, who do you bin?

C: I hope we take a chance with a couple of Championship youngish talents. Not sure the squad's big enough to get rid of too many.

B: A striker who can score 20 goals a season, someone like Andy Johnson, if we want to stay up we have to spend. As for who to sell, donít think anyone stands out.

What's it all about, Crouchy?

C: I genuinely don't think Crouch has many problems, other than a bit of confidence a goal would give him.  Ever since he arrived at Pompey I have considered him to be a special talent, who gives England and whichever club side he plays for a different dimension. He will come good for Liverpool I am sure. On Saturday everyone was raving about Rooney's saved chip, but I admired Crouchy's skill in setting him up almost as much

B: The problem for Crouchy is that he's always been a big fish in a small pond, and now it is the other way around, I think he is struggling. I think Rafa may have bought into the popular misconception that he is actually good in the air, when in fact he isn't. He is however, tremendous for a big guy on the deck, and if they start using him to hold the ball up and bring others in, Rafa and the boys will prosper a whole lot more. The other problem is, that he has always played well in teams that build slowly, however, one thing I have noticed about Liverpool this year, is the speed the ball goes from back to front, with a high tempo midfield, and think Freakboy is struggling to cope with the fitness required.

What songs and chants can we expect to hear from your travelling fans this Saturday? And what did you sing for Crouchy (we're struggling at the moment...)

C: The ubiquitous Pompey Chimes. The 'Milan, there's only one Milan' chants have been a bit muted lately. As for Crouch, nothing of great note. 'One Pompey Rodney, There's only....' was a limp homage to Only Fools and Horses. Someone reckoned we did something to Chic's 'Le Freak', but I don't recall it.

B: Our traveling fans might be legendary for their fervent support, but their imagination doesnít match it. Play up Pompey will be the best you can expect. We didn't really have any songs for Crouch, just nicknames like Rodney and Freakboy....

Will you sing anything for us?

C: *Takes a wild guess* Something involving car stereos and thieving? Typical Portsmouth wit they call that...

B: No, will you sing anything for us?

Which Liverpool player will cause you the most problems on Saturday?

C: Peter Crouch. Our ex players always do well against us.

B: Xabi Alonso and Steve Gerrard are both world class and will trouble anyone on their day. As for attacking, I am sure Luis Garcia will be up for it after scoring a hat trick for Spain

What opinion, if any, do you have on Liverpool's performances this season?

C: I hope you're feeling more Crystal Palace than Real Betis on Saturday.

B: Poor, letís be honest, there is no consistency, and you still need a striker who can score 20 a season which it doesnít look like you have.

Best Pompey memory?

C: Taking 12,000 to Anfield on a Tuesday night in October 1980 is pretty high up there...

B: Promotion season, seeing Paul Merson lift the old trophy, staying up at Bradford and Huddersfield, and having my foot broken by a horse at the McAlpine as I got on the pitch.

And biggest regret?

C: Missing promotion to the Premiership by one goal in May 1993. If we'd have gone up then we might have had a better chance of making a proper fist of top flight football and we might well have been playing to 30,000+ crowds now...

B: Missing the semi final against you lot in 1992, because my new job started in the South of France the day before, after I had queued for 12 hours for a ticket.

Go on, predict the score...

C: Heart says 1-1. Head says 2-1 to Liverpool.

B: 1-1 if we are really lucky

Thanks once again to the lads at Pompey Fans for their help with this.

© RAWK 2005

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