That's what Saturdays are about!
Football on a Saturday - and at 3pm at that - is what football is all about... the early start, the travelling, chat with fellow fans, banter with opposing fans and fans for all sorts of clubs, a few beers with your mates before the game and so on are all things that make football such a special game - and these things will hopefully never change, well not too much despite the many changes that are taking place within the game.
It was a mighty early start yesterday, I got my first train from my place where I got off then met up with Richie at Newton Abbot, where we came across our first fans of the day, they were QPR and mother and son teaming who said 'we have been wondering which fans we would come across first'.
Onwards we went, the first change was at Westbury where we encountered our first Pompey fan - well the first Pompey fan wearing the colours - he was getting off to get on the jam packed train bound for Portsmouth harbour, but we lost track of him as it was basically a free for all... There were however plenty of Sunderland fans that you could have a bit of light hearted banter with however.
When the chance arose we moved seats and just happened to end up sitting next to another Pompey fan, he had some stories to tell and some involved amazing journeys to get to games, so we had a good chat with him, then were joined by a Sunderland fan living in the South who also had a chat with us about football.
Eventually a little after 1.15pm, after a short trip to the club shop we arrived at the Brewers where we meet up with some familiar faces - UKTony and his wife Gill, Storagematt and for the first time linvoyforengland - who is a really nice fella I might add... Then, again for the first time, from Jersey steaming and his group - who again were a really nice group also... Chix, his bother, and a couple of there mates - and I am guessing their kids, eastneydave and pompey4me - and one of his sons - were all there, I do not think I have missed anyway - if so apologies...
Once again this gathering was rudely interrupted by the football! But of course this is ultimately the reason we were all there, so off we eventually trotted after repeatedly saying 'come on then lets move on', but again in all honesty the football was the low point of the day as it was a terrible game, but some credit must be given to Sunderland who came to do a job and almost did it. The Sunderland fans met before and after the game, not to mention their fans at the game were fantastic, and showed me personally why I feel they deserve to stay up and hope they do.
The highlight of the game - other than the winning goal of course - was what must have been a full five minute rendition of 'Blue Army' that had Fratton literally rocking, as all four sides were belting this out - and credit to Sunderland fans who were belting out there own songs as well at that time - it was something special, and another of those special Fratton moments that I will never forget.
On the train back from Fratton Station we were firstly sitting with a father and daughter combination from Manchester, they had just been to wherever it was for the day and were travelling back, he was a Citeh fan, she a United fan so I had a bit of a chat about Benjani and the two clubs with him.
With the change at Westbury we again bumped into the Pompey fan that we had on the way up, so we got talking to him - he was a really nice fella - and he sat with us until Exeter when he got off, he certainly knew his football and we shared many stories, but he told us a fantastic story from the game, he said - maybe not word for word, but words to the effect:
'I was sat there and had a bit of a moan about how s**t we were, then a bloke behind me said if you wanted to see s**t you should have been here 5 years ago!'
'I told him that I was, but back then we would have been winning the title in Division One, so he said, I meant 6 years ago... again I was still here as although I am only 21 I have had a season ticket for 11 years!' We creased up with laughter as that must have silenced the fella.
Hopefully I will hear from this bloke, his name escapes me, for which I feel terrible although I did write down the website address, so hopefully he will logon and drop me an email?
Richie got off at Newton Abbot then I carried on to Plymouth - as the train was late I already knew I would not make the last bus back so I had to see what they could do, at first because of what they saw as a 'technicality' they were not going to lay on a cab as they claimed it was not their 'responsibility' and they were not 'legally obliged to do so'... a short rant and rave later and I was given the cab home, which in all fairness I knew I was entitled to.
By the time I got home from work late on Friday, had a beer and did this and that it was pushing on for 2pm, up at a little after 6am on Saturday and not getting home until near on midnight made for a very long day, but it was a day that as always was well worth it, as I say this is what Saturdays are all about...
PLAY UP POMPEY!