The story of the season - Preston (a)
2010/11 season v Preston at Deepdale, Saturday 21st August 2010.
As I walked through Dawlish early on the Saturday morning to catch a train to Exeter, I had stayed at Trina's the night before, the place resembled something of a mild bombsite with it most definitely a case of 'the morning after the night before'...
You see, every year Dawlish has a carnival, this goes on all week and is quite a big deal to the people of the town and of course the economy as it generates a fair amount of money I would think. It saddened me to see empty beer cans, bottles and rubbish all over the place. During that week, and especially that Friday night as it has its Friday send off at the end of the week, 'anything goes' and drinking in the streets is acceptable. Unfortunately this was taken advantage of, although the bins - and plenty were laid on - were not!
Seen as I had to leave early, or at least get up early, for Preston I did not over indulge too much the night before...sure I had some wine and a couple, in fact a couple of couples worth of beers but I was 'the responsible one', Trina passed out when we got home, via a brief stop at my brothers for 'one more drink.' Knowing I had to sort a couple of things on Vital Pompey I was up around 6am, got washed up, had something to eat and then got this done before leaving the house around 7.15am, of course popping up to say goodbye to her first, to wonder down to the station, surveying the carnage around me...
Dawlish station, despite its size, is much more accessible than Ivybridge so getting too and from it is 'fairly' easy - getting a train out as early as 7.30am is something I would struggle from home so it was just as well I stayed at Trina's so I could get into Exeter for 7.45am, where I saw Richie waiting for me on the platform, fresh from his nightshift - although it later turned out he was not 'waiting for me' he had merely just got a coffee so decided to wait.
Off outside we went to wait for Ken, who turned up a little after 8am, and on we went. E i e i e i o, off to Preston we did go!
No sooner had we hit the motorway proper had Richie started his sleep, and he slept - and snored - for pretty much the whole journey, that in itself, well bar the snoring, is not unusual for 'The Corpse', then again to be fair it was a nightshift he had come off. Ken and I talked about a range of things, football - Pompey and otherwise, life in general, this that and the other, in a journey that was pleasant enough, albeit strange in the weather we encountered, and without that many major issues, unlike the others before this.
We eventually found 'The Sumner' around 12.45ish when we got into Preston and decide this would be our base, not far from Deepdale and parking for us to stay at - at £2 this was not bad at all. In we went, drinks sorted we moseyed on outside to bask in the sunshine where we saw Johnny Westwood who greeted us all, having in-depth chats with Ken. One discussion we had was the league cup game - without the squad he was not so keen on us advancing, I think that Ken and I agreed, all in all, that in spite of this it is 'a cup' so we wanted to carry on, also my thinking was it increases fitness for those needing this.
It must have been around 1.30pm when Tim and wife turned up, who were staying in Blackpool overnight, both commented on my T-shirt, a transformers one - I seem to have a bit of a cult following growing with these that I wear following The Mighty Boosh one from Stevenage that got some admiring glances. The drinks were flowing, as was the conversation, again about various things, so it would have been easy to stay in the pub but the time eventually came when we 'had' to go, so off we went and into Deepdale - those not familiar with it, trust me it lives up to its 'deep' name, as it is some trek to the back, or near the back, of the stand...
Having been a game that I had fairly high expectations of for getting something from it soon became apparent that it was not going to be the case - Pompey were awful, pretty much from start to finish. Carl Dickinson again looked well off the pace and was skinned for what proved to be the only goal of the game, Ibrahima Sonko 'should', I feel, have also done better but seemed to totally miss-kick leaving the Preston striker with an open goal to finish into, 'thanking you kindly' must have been his, and the Preston fans' thoughts.
At half time Richie and I went down for a beer and there were some murmurings that Manyoo's Gabriel Obertain was in the ground, and sure enough he was - it turns out he was a few rows in front of me, but as he had his hood up you would not have known. He posed for photos with plenty of people and shock several hands, including my own. I said to him 'so you will sign next week then,' he did not say no so I took that as a 'maybe' - although, all joking apart, even if there was the remote chance of this that performance would have changed his mind. The fans chanted songs aimed at him such as 'Obertain's a Pompey fan' and 'Obertain give us a wave' early in the 2nd half but he did not bite so we soon move on - it was a 'strange' atmosphere, very flat and never really got going. I was also amazed at the number of people 'sat down' and staying down, even in this era where you have to it is rare that I have been involved in a travel party that is so willing to sit down, especially when this is not being challenged at all!
The improvement that we 'hoped for' in the 2nd half did not come, if anything we were worse and but for Jamie Ashdown making some top class saves it would have been a heavier defeat than 1-0, but 1-0 it was.
I make no secret of my admiration for Matty Ritchie but I think he showed that he has done well this season as we missed him, and he made a bit of difference when he came on. As for Dave Nugent, he - like most others to be fair - was not at it on the day and those 'if it does not happen today it never will' thoughts may prove right. Most surprisingly so, or worryingly so, for the first time this season he did not acknowledge the crowd at all. A number did, but once again it was little surprise that the likes of Ritchie, Joel Ward and Dickinson - who again led the players over - were the main ones to show appreciation, although as said the support was very flat, and un-Pompey like, even for so few of us in an overall crowd at less than 10,000.
Getting away was fairly easy, and we also made good time getting back. Making it back to Exeter for 10.30pm, was expected to be a 'push' as we planned during the week but we made this with ease, even via the Worcester stop for our traditional chippy. As we got back around 10pm Richie and I also had time to go in The Great Western for a quick pint before I caught my 22.37 train back to Dawlish, although it typical First Great Western fashion when you really just want to get back this was late, meaning I eventually got into Dawlish some 15 minutes late but I was back in doors by 11.20pm.
No sooner was this done, and I got back to my place sometime Monday, it was time for Palace in the league cup - a chance, at home, to get a much needed win under our belts to raise confidence ahead of the weekend meeting, also at Fratton, against Cardiff. Well, this is what I hoped for anyway...
PLAY UP POMPEY!