Summer Toast # 8 - On the up.
So we have a new Chairman and the Toast named Dr SAF is now onboard. We welcome him to Fratton Park with open arms and hope he will listen to the views of all fans especially those here at Vital Pompey.
VP is now getting so popular the old server is creaking under the strain of the number users online at any time. If you have experienced problems recently we do apologise and the Vital big wigs have been on the case. To prove this point last week`s edition of Toast actually reached #6 on the Newsnow 'hit parade`. Perhaps it showed how right we were at VP to ensure that there was no doom and gloom while we waited for the 'deal` to go through.
Another fillip for VP had come earlier that week when the Chix and Dave quiz had been given a huge plug by none other a body than USAToday. Don`t believe me, well have a look here .
Remember the link to Pompeyrama stats - just click on the player`s name.
26th July - Mladen Rudonja is 38
30th July - Neil Webb will be 46 - Neil of course is a Pompey legend and we have an Eastney link. John, who we have talked to in the past, is a retired estate agent who sold Neil his first house in Cowplain. He described Webbie as a exceptional young man.
Tony Macken will be 59 as revealed exclusively by Toast Macken is the only link with the Home Farm of Dublin who have been adopted by the club as a youth. That has gone all quiet recently too.
31st July - Brian Turner will be 60
1st August - Nwankwo Kanu will be 33
Jimmy Glass will be 36
David James will be 39
Season 1967/68 - Getting mighty crowded
This is not an item dedicated to the late Betty Everett but a story of what I will always remember as my favourite season back in the days when I was young and expectations low. I attended over forty games that season including friendlies and have written most of this from memory and just checked a few facts to make it accurate for the reader.
Nothing that happened at the end of the 1966/67 would have given any Pompey fan grounds for optimism that long summer. The season had finished with Pompey winning just one out of the last twelve league games - at Bolton and none of their final six home games.
That summer manager George Smith was to make just one major signing and that was George Smith from Barrow for £25,000. Not sure how unique that is a manager signing a player with the same name but it certainly does not happen every day. Smith, the player, was a tenacious midfielder but not many fans had heard of him nor knew what to expect. That is where modern fans are so lucky with cameras at every league game in those days we saw no games outside of the top division and thus had no chance to assess possible new stars.
The only other signings were Mike Travers a midfielder from Reading and Ray Potter from West Brom replacing John Armstrong as back up goalkeeper.
You should of course add George Ley to that list as he had only made his debut on the final day of the previous season after joining from Exeter City
The fixtures threw up an exciting start with newly promoted and League Cup winners Queens Park Rangers the visitors to Fratton Park. The biggest league gate (excluding local derbies) for seven and a half years was drawn to the Park and Ray Pointer scored for Pompey in an entertaining 1-1 draw. An exceptional crowd that was of 23,261 but incredibly it was to be over 1,000 less than the average gate for the season ahead.
The next three games were all wins and after a 2-2 draw at Huddersfield we all made the trip to Carrow Road on a sunny September afternoon hoping we could put Norwich to the sword. It was to be a one man show as Nicky Jennings was to score the only hat-trick I have ever seen by a Pompey winger in the 3-1 win. They are none to common unless you were lucky enough to see the great Peter Harris and sadly I was not.
Two more wins meant that Pompey had started with nine undefeated and were the last in league to do so. That all went wrong when Charlton crushed Pompey 4-1 on a very wet night at the Valley - boy did that ground did need some cover in those days.
Pompey had by then slipped off top spot and the cause of the problem was clear for all to see. Impregnable at the fortress and hopeless on the road. Starting at Charlton, Pompey were to win just one of the next thirteen away trips! But the home form kept Pompey in the top two and on 4th November they were top again after a 3-0 Fratton thumping of Hull. The luck was with Pompey that day as all other Division Two games were beaten by the weather. However a 3-2 defeat at Millwall the next week saw the blues back down to second place. One memory I will keep from that game was the Micky Travers headed goal from outside the box - now that doesn`t happen everyday..
As December approached the fixture list showed some key games coming up starting with top club Blackpool at home. Blackpool were making an excellent fist at attempting to bounce back at the first go. A massive crowd was expected but the attendance of over 35,000 astounded the whole country - it was also the largest league crowd for me at Fratton Park. The atmosphere that afternoon was amazing as the Tangerines were beaten 3-1. The win cam at a cost though as Jennings broke his ankle and was to be missed in the weeks ahead.
Next up was Ipswich away and with the away form awful we feared the worst. But a win it was at Portman Road, sadly heavy snow in Pompey prevented me and a lot of other fans travelling; I have still never been to Portman Road. The next trip was to another challenger, Queens Park Rangers, and this time I was there and so were the Match of the Day cameras but the away form deserted Pompey and they slipped to a toothless 2-0 defeat.
Christmas presented Pompey with Crystal Palace home and away. Strangely both games finished 2-2 draws with Albie McCann and Mick Travers scoring in both games. The New Year dawned with probably the worst performance of the season at Ninian Park. On another very wet afternoon the pitch was an absolute quagmire and totally unplayable but the referee started the game and by half time Cardiff were 3-0 up. All Pompey had to offer was Ron Tindall protesting vehemently with the officials to call it off. They refused and Pompey were lucky the score remained unchanged in the second period. To make things worse on the walk back to the railway station with the rain still teeming down I walked straight into a lamppost!!
The next two games at home were won and then the board decided that the club need a new striker. They were interested in two players John O`Rourke of Middlesbrough and Mike Trebilcock at Everton. They eventually spent £40,000 on Trebs and trusted he would score the goal that would take us on to promotion.
He made his debut in a 1-1 draw at Rotherham and then in his home debut scored the winner in a 3-2 triumph over Derby County. But that was to be Trebilcock`s only league goal of the season and Pompey began to fall away and after losing the home record to Birmingham in early March followed by another awful performance at Bristol City the writing was on the wall.
The final insult came at the start of May when Ipswich came to Fratton Park and clinched promotion with John O`Rourke, the striker we should have signed, among the goals. QPR finished second and Pompey were fifth. Pompey were to spend fourteen consecutive season in Division Two and that was the only time they looked like getting out in the right direction - so yes I enjoyed it but I had to wait twelve more years to see my side win promotion and that was from the Fourth Division.
On a 'where are they now` slant, Trebs is now in Australia and has been doing some truck driving while O`Rourke used to run a newsagents in Bournemouth.
The cups that season were very much a case of chalk and cheese. The League Cup started with an easy Fratton win over Port Vale but the next round sent Pompey to the Feethams to play Darlington. That was to end in utter embarrassment and a 4-1 thumping by the Fourth Division strugglers.
The FA Cup was totally different and I have written about them often before. After a London Road win over Peterborough United with a Ray Hiron goal we had the two ties with Fulham the Fratton replay attracting over 44,000 with many locked out. Cup Final hero Trebilcock scored the only goal. That meant West Brom at home in the fifth round and they edged through 2-1 in front of another crowd of over 40,000. Albion went on to win the cup.
So a memorable season ended with nearly 600,000 being drawn through the Fratton turnstiles at an average of 24,421. Pompey of course only had one team in those days and that season only eighteen players pulled on the famous blue shirt with six players making forty and over league appearances (out of 42).
Next time in this series it will be 1979/80 and the Fourth Division days.