Sunday Toast Season 3 # 12 - Everyone is smiling!
Wow! What a week two games, eight goals and none conceded. Funny old game football but we knew it was coming just did not expect it twice in a week.
So all of a sudden our strikers are firing after drawing blank in the opening ten games. What has made the difference then? Teams at the foot of the table usually fumble around nervously but boss Paul Hart had told his players 'to play with no fear' and they followed his instructions to the letter.
The atmosphere was great yesterday particularly helped by the Milton End being filled with Pompey fans on a mission. Helped by tickets bought by Smiffy's bar and the new discount schemes for students etc. the stand was buzzing throughout especially when some of the old songs were brought out. Well done to all involved.
Man of the match of course will go to Aruna Dindane who stuffed all the words thrown at him back down his critics throats. Toast however thinks that the inspiration offered by 'Janice' Kaboul if more than worthy of a mention. Man mountain in defence, Younes always finds time to forage up field and is likely to appear anywhere on the pitch. How long before he wins that first French cap?
The injuries could have proved worrying but the news that Freddy P's knock was just concussion and the hope is that Steve Finnan's groin injury is not serious. Had to feel sorry for Tommy Smith though who has worked tirelessly but will now be the scapegoat for long barren run.
I got along to the launch of the 'Pompey 'til I die' book yesterday and it was quite an emotional occasion. The event was hosted by the Pompey Study Centre where the club use football as an incentive to teach children all manner of subjects from maths to history.
Unfortunately Paul and Chix were unable to attend but quite a few of those who had pieces chosen were there and many were asked to read extracts from their articles. They included blind fan Nick Whylie, Ray Crawford, Jake Payne who contributed a large amount of memorabilia, John Jenkins MBE and a number of the younger fans.
There were a number of tear-jerking moments as stories were replayed and memories were stirred. The book is worth a read by any football fan not just Pompey as it shows the passion of fans and that is what football is all about.
Obviously a number of articles submitted by fans did not make the final published version and that is due to the quantity and the quality. Toast though will publish any pieces that did not make the book so please send them in.
Bolton based Premier League referee Mark Halsey is fighting cancer. Halsey, made an emotional trip to the Reebok Stadium yesterday and was greeted by both Chelsea and Bolton players.
The news of Mark's cancer came just months after his wife was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Mark is fighting the disease with all his might and has asked Keith Hackett head of referees to let him get back on the field. That's the spirit Mark and good luck from all at Vital Pompey.
Not sure that anyone noticed but the crowd against Spurs at home recently was a record gate!! The attendance of 20,821 was the largest ever for an all seater crowd at Fratton Park and was the biggest since Leicester City came to town in 1993 for the play offs semi final. The crowd that night was 25,438 and it seems it will be a long time until that is beaten.
It is a sign of the extra seats that have been squeezed into the ground as we exclusively told you in Toast back in the summer. When will we get the extra thousands of seats that we have been promised for so long?
Last week in Toast we were crying out for a proper reserve game and on Tuesday evening we got one. Stoke made about nine changes and Pompey seven from the previous game so in essence this was a proper stiffs outing.
The game was full of quality and again I ask why do we not get enough games like this? Believe it or not back in the fifties when Pompey were in their prime crowds of over 20,000 were commonplace for second team games at Fratton Park but with so much television coverage now those days will never return but surely proper second string games can.
Stoke were bedevilled by leaks on Tuesday night. First their defence leaked like a sieve as Pompey but the pressure on in the second half and then their plane developed an oil leak on the return flight causing them to make an emergency landing at Gatwick. Just to prove it was not the Potters night that was further from home than Eastleigh airport where they started from. Of course we are glad at least they arrived home safely.
No not the son of the Tottenham manager but our ever loyal goalkeeper who never lets his team down. Jamie has been as Pompey for over five years now since signing from Reading on a free transfer but in that period he played less than forty games.
Ashdown has never really been the club`s number one for any of that time always number two to Shaka Hislop, Sander Westerveld, Dean Kiely and of course David James. It was only when Kostas Chalkias fooled around between the posts that Jamie had a decent run and of course was in goal when our near neighbours were annihilated in April 2005.
Now the real question that has to be answered is Jamie Ashdown loyal servant or lack of ambition? The club now has four quality keepers and what order they are placed in differs from fan to fan. In the week I heard a number arguing that Jamie should be in front of Asmir Begovic and it shows the confidence Paul Hart has in the Reading born keeper that Beg is now at Ipswich on loan.
Perhaps it is a sign of the times particularly with seven substitutes now sat on the bench that we will have a lot of rich keepers who play hardly any games in their careers but still earn the corn.
Milton Arms shuts
Well it appears that the Milton Arms the regular pre match meeting place for VP may have closed its doors for the last time. I walked past the other night the building appears to have been vandalised and metal shutters at in evidence at all the ground floor doors and windows.
The News carried a story that the brewers plan to reopen after carrying out refurbishment works but I think that highly unlikely. The pub with a great Pompey history with its memorabilia and of course two ex Pompey greats in Johnny Gordon and Jack Froggatt as its landlord may have gone forever.
The News also reported that night that among other pubs to close in the last twelve months was the Bird in Hand at Lovedean. Now of course some of you will know that is where the FA Cup was stored for safe keeping in the later years of the war. However I gather that the Bird in Hand may have reopened early in the summer.
Bit of a week for goalscorers and a certain editor.
Paolo Vernazza is 30 Paul Wood is 45 Albert McCann is 68
Dario Silva is 37 Jason Cundy is 40 Steve Piper is 56 Harry Harris was born in 1933.
Andy Myers is 36 Rug is 30!! Sorry but there is no link as Rug has never played for Pompey nor indeed anyone else.
Roy Lunniss is 70 Alan Barnett is 75
Paul Sugrue is 49 Ron Saunders is 77
Mark Hateley is 48 Ken Foggo is 66