Vital Football

What a year 2008 was for Pompey!

What a year 2008 was for Pompey!

Forget how the year has ended and all the 'doom and gloom' recently, and maybe 'more misery' that might come in 2009 - if you believe everything that you read! - lets look at the positives, and focus on what has quite possibly been the greatest year most of us have ever witnessed in our Pompey supporting lives, in actual fact probably the best year we ever will see...

The year kicked off with the arrival of Lassana Diarra in January, and what a fantastic footballer he was for us - his time might have been short, much like himself, but it was most definitely sweet and huge, much bigger than his own diminutive stature.

When Lassie arrived in January we hoped for an 'impact' from 'the little man', but who would have thought it would have included winning the cup!

We also witnessed the eventual arrival of Jermain Defoe after years of chasing him - and he fired in the goals, setting a new club record of consecutive appearances with goals at home.

Years of speculation were finally ended when Defoe finally made that switch to Pompey - he marked his debut with a goal in front of the Fratton faithful.

We carried on some fantastic away form and saw more wins against sides that we had not seen victories over in many a year - the highlight of which has to be the monumental 1-0 win over Manyoo at Old Trafford in the FA cup quarter final. What a day that was, a day I will never forget, and a day that left me buzzing for a good week or so afterwards. This was all the more special as I was not only there, but there with some of my mates that I had been going to football with for donkies years but had not seen for the best part of 8-years prior, with this game being the first one we had travelled together for since our last meeting - an end of season Division One game with QPR back in 2000 I think, a game we lost 2-1...

Triumphant scoreboard - I wish I had thought of it, thankfully pompey4me did...

A visit to Wembley, the first that any of us had made to the national stadium with Pompey, took place in April and we came away with a semi final win over West Brom to book a return for the FA cup final - we would actually return, not once, but twice more before the year was out!

View from my 'lofty' seat in the 'club Wembley' section - my only regret that day, I was not in with the 'real' fans, but at least I was there...

For a second successive season we finished in the top 10 in the league, finishing in our highest league placing in over 50-years - a finish that could, and should, have been even higher but for our attention firmly focused on winning the cup, which we did so the slump in form was forgiven...

May brought a return to Wembley for the cup final and we managed to win the FA cup. I never, ever thought that I would see Pompey win a domestic trophy - maybe I never will again, but at least I have seen us hold aloft the most famous cup competition in the world. Best still I was there with my brother, something that meant even more to me as he was almost killed in a serious motorcycle accident a few years earlier - my sister was also there, but sadly I was unable to sit with her for this, but at least I was able to organise tickets for her and her boyfriend.

When Sol went up to lift the FA cup...

After the cup success we had the victory parade around Southsea, and the scenes on the common were incredible - some 250,000 fans turned up for one of the greatest parties I have ever witnessed, another incredible day and a very moving and touching one and I was able to share this with some of my family including my little nephew Reece, or 'littlespoon' as I often refer to him as, who means more to me than almost anything else in life...

Rugs nephew littlespoon and Rugs brother among the thousands and thousands on the common...

Another man, much touted with a return to Pompey for some time, also finally returned when Peter Crouch - a much underrated player, and still to this day with us I feel, was back. I rated the fella when we had him as a youngster, now several years on I rate him even more.

The 'big man' returned - already he has scored plenty of goals...

A third return to Wembley, now our second home, with this becoming blasé happened and we managed to retain our 'unbeaten record' - ok we might have lost on penalties, but during normal time we held Manyoo to a 0-0 draw. 3 trips to Wembley in 5 months, who would have thought this - maybe August will be the last visit we make, but at least we have been there, and I can say I have been every time!

Wembley... again! But for the last time?

European football came to Portsmouth, and with it 'special European nights' at Fratton, and the atmosphere on that 'first ever' European night against Vitoria was something else, a 2-0 win was even better. We retained an unbeaten home record in European competition, I am more than happy with that.

Vital gathering prior to the Vitoria game at the Milton Arms: left to right - UKTony, pentonpompey, pompeyyong, sneakay, sea-juicer, storagematt, Chix, me and eastneydave.

Then of course there was the European tour itself - starting in Guimaraes, Portugal.

Valladolid airport, where I met a couple of familiar faces: left to right - Dave, me and storagematt.

And this was a dream come true, that afternoon on the square in the town centre was something else. Again I was able to share this moment with some friends and family.

Guimaraes, the glorious 'town square' occasion - what an afternoon!

The game against Vitoria itself looked like being a nightmare for so long, but we eventually made it through - once again I can say I was there. Further trips to Portugal, just down the road from Guimaraes happened with the trip to Braga and then Germany to face Wolfsburg - these might have both ended in defeat, but they played a part in the European tour and I too was a part of the tour, 2 out of 3 as far as I was concerned was not bad at all.

AC Milan coming to Fratton, again another dream and what a night - not 1-0, but 2-0 up with 5 minutes to play, if only we could have stopped the game then, unfortunately they came back to draw 2-2 but we played one of the greatest club sides in world football well and truly off the park, and it was not as if it was a 'weak side' either. The atmosphere was electric - the 'Tony Adams blue and white army' chant that went on for the best part of 15 minutes was something that I will never forget, it almost brought a tear to my eye, it certainly brought a very big lump to my throat that had to be swallowed hard to get rid of! I know it sounds crazy, as how can a draw ever be better than a win, but in a crazy kind of way the draw was better than the win - I know it sounds dumb, but hopefully you get what I mean...

Kaboul puts us ahead against Milan, on a fantastic Fratton night - a dream night, almost the perfect dream night...

I think we will have to go some to ever beat this year, and to be honest I do not think that we will - but whatever 2009 brings we should never forget what an incredible year 2008 was, a year that holds so many memories that I will never forget, and I was able to be at almost all of them and best of all share these with my family, friends - new and old - and my friends on this very site - I thank you all, and hope that we have all enjoyed these times, best of luck for 2009 guys!

As said at the very beginning, I know things are not rosy at all now, far from it, but this IS a look back at some glorious memories from this year - many of which seemed 'unthinkable' this time last year, so do not ruin it by thoughts of doom and gloom! Ok, maybe we are now paying this price for these glorious things, but if you cannot look back and appreciate, and respect these things that I feel have made it a special year for me and you then maybe its best not to say anything at all... Sorry to rant guys, but this is not about 'the bad times', this is about 'the good times', and 'the special times' shared this year...


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Date:Wednesday December 31 2008
Time: 4:00PM

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Fantastic memories Rug. Myself, Ms Penton and Tom whom some of you met at the Milan game wish you all a fantastic New Year. I've enjoyed every meeting we've had this year, may next year bring many more memorable ones!!!!!!!
31/12/2008 16:17:00
Rug - great memories and a year we will all never forget. Penton (Andy) was great to meet up with so many of you during the year - I will always cherish the photo of me at the Cup Final with Chix - it was a wonderful experience. Th eMilan game was the icing on the cake too. Happy new year to you all!!
31/12/2008 16:53:00
what a year! Bring on 2009!
31/12/2008 16:57:00
Thanks Dave, much appreciated. Rug any chance of emailing me the pic of us all outside the Milton?
31/12/2008 18:07:00
Andy I have the original of that so drop me a PM with your email address and I will send it ya!
31/12/2008 18:16:00
A great article - that's the sad truth about the good times is that they are often too fleeting but let's all be good Buddhists and remember that we should embrace the bad times as they make the good times feel even better. Good times will come again.
31/12/2008 19:57:00
Great to look back on a wonderful year, i never believed we would ever go to Wembley once, let alone twice. Inter was the most wonderful few minutes as well. Lets hope that there is more to come, its never plain sailing supporting the mighty Pompey is it!! Happy New Year to everyone and see you all on Saturday, Wembley here we come again.
01/01/2009 09:53:00
I don't think you could write 2008 & believe it if it didn't happen to us. Without doubt the best of many recent great years. Last January we won at Reading & were up there in the league & then scrapped past Ipswich in Round 3. What was to follow is dream stuff. A fantastic review, with all the wonderful memories. I am grateful to have seen every game at home last season. Lucky enough to do all 3 Wembley trips & to do all the UEFA cup games. Nothing will remove that moment when we won the FA Cup & that fist trip to Portugal. Sharing these great moments with family, life long friends & of course new friends from vital. Whatever the future holds, nothing can take 2008 away from us. Happy New Year.
01/01/2009 11:39:00
The FA Cup Final was a dream as a child & not just to be their, but to win it was the icing on the cake, but as a one off game the AC Milan game was just brilliant on & off the pitch.
01/01/2009 12:47:00
I would say the Milan game was the highlight as well Yong. A Quite brilliant night from start to finish.
01/01/2009 14:22:00
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