Toast Season 4 # 22 - a win is a win!
Pompey woke from their slumbers eventually yesterday afternoon to win at home for the first time since the clocks went back. Until the King delivered the killer blow the game had been totally forgettable with neither side producing any real football of note.
The loss of Liam Lawrence before half time with a calf injury seemed to have shorn Pompey of any creation and until Kanu came off the bench they could produce nothing to cause the uncompromising Barnsley back row any problems. The goal came out of the blue too as the game seemed to drifting to a goalless draw. Greg Halford floated a free kick into the box and Kanu's head did the rest.
After that Pompey should really have added more goals but that would have put a totally unrealistic edge to the scoreline. David Cotterill had a quiet debut but showed some nice touches and his dead ball delivery late on should put pressure on Lawrence who has not been delivering well of late.
So three welcome points and with Palace beating the Blades the gap to the bottom three is now a more comfortable nine points. Another win on Tuesday against Palace will lift them closer to safety. For the statisticians the BBC reckon that was Hermann's 500th league appearance.
I always chance my luck with a few headlines before the game in readiness for the quick turnaround when I get back to Toast HQ and the two I had written were 'Barnsley get the chop!' and 'Toothless Pompey'. Well I suppose I could have used them both.
The G Men
Well here is an article for Googlers to track down. It is the story of an epic FA Cup battle with Spurs with G very much to the fore. However it is not the Gazza game of 1991 nor is it the Grant semi final of 2010; this battle involves two other famous G men from the sixties and I can find no other report on the web.
On 18th February 1967 - that is forty four years ago - Pompey travelled to Spurs for an FA Cup fourth round tie. They got there after an epic three match tie with Hull City. The thought of a trip to Spurs had attracted a crowd of over 33,000 for the first replay at Fratton Park. The tie though had to go to a third meeting at Coventry's Highfield Road where Pompey inspired by Albert McCann ran out 3-1 winners before another huge crowd of 18,448.
We all started to make plans for our trip to North London. The week before the big match the Football Mail reporting the 3-2 win over Northampton at Fratton (in which Ray Pointer scored his first Pompey goal) included a letter from a local based Spurs fan who advised fans to arrive at White Hart Lane early as queues formed before the gates opened and the ground soon filled up. This made most fans change their travel plans and catch earlier trains to the capital and by 10:30 the streets around the North London ground were crammed with fans bedecked in Royal blue and white.
I have never arrived at a ground so early for a match either before or since and it seemed as thought the warning the previous week had been overkill. We did not see a Spurs fan for hours and once the gates opened at about 12:30 the fans flooded in. By shortly after one the Park Lane end of the ground was a seething mass of Pompey fans and the noise incredible - still two hours to kick off.
When the Pompey side came out for the warm up they received a tumultuous reception on a pitch that was nothing like the Fratton Park carpet they were used to. It was a typical London pitch of the sixties and seventies, a little grass in the corners and the remainder of the surface just rolled mud.
George Smith made a few surprises in the line up recalling the luckless Vince Radcliffe in place of the injured Frank Haydock. Haydock was the rock of the Pompey defence and would be sorely missed, Radcliffe had played only a handful of first team games since breaking his ankle at the Dell eighteen months before. Ron Tindall was moved from left back into midfield in place of Johnny Gordon who dropped to the bench. There was no return from injury for Albert McCann. The side was below strength for a game we all wanted our 'stars' to be fit to start.
The match was sadly an anticlimax with Pompey overrun by a rampant Spurs side and was a salutary lesson for many young fans who were watching their side play on a top ground for the first time. We had a long way to go to be back on the big stage again.
Goals from the 'G' men Alan Gilzean (2) and Jimmy Greaves put the home side 3-0 up soon after the break but a late Tindall score did give us all something to cheer. How many Pompey fans were there is something that will always be argued about but estimates varied between 15,000 and 25,000, they certainly let their hosts know they were there. The attendance was 57,910 and WHL has not seen a crowd of that size since.
So after a cup run that that had captured the imagination of the city finished it also ended Pompey's season and they would win only one more game - at Bolton. The next season would be much better though with Pompey top for long spells before running out of steam and finishing fifth.
Spurs went on to win the final beating Chelsea at Wembley in the first all London final. The next time we met in 1991 they also went on the lift the cup but of course in 2010 we stopped that little game!
History lesson Part 2
Today is the anniversary of the last midweek afternoon game at Fratton Park. It was back in 1974 during the three day week when clubs were not allowed to use the mains to power their floodlights. Chairman John Deacon had invested in a generator but that had failed during the league game with Luton the previous month leaving the club with no alternative but to switch to the mains for safety reasons.
With a game with Sheffield Wednesday needing rearranged because of cup commitments the club decided to play on a Wednesday afternoon with an early kick off to ensure the game finished in daylight. Ron Davies gave Pompey a half time lead but with the final kick winger Eric Potts knicked a point that would eventually save the Owls from relegation.
The crowd was just 8,699 (yes, I was one of them) and the game was the last appearance in a Pompey shirt for goalkeeping legend John Milkins after fifteen years and 344 games. Pompeyrama our sister site with such wonderful stats, tells me that I saw 238 of those games!
SSN Pompey special
Special report on Sky Sports News - 'Portsmouth the Inside Story' this Monday at 19:30 includes a rare interview with Balram Chanrai and why the club could have been relegated at Christmas. Should make interesting viewing. If you watch and would like to write a report please let us know.
Formula One fan? Not me but if you are why not sign up to the latest Vital site Vital F1 here . Your Vital Football registration does also cover VF1 and good luck to all involved with the new venture.
A question from the Boilermaker's hump - Why whenever there is a goalkick or dead ball situation in the penalty area do all twenty outfield players muster in an area just twenty five yards square on one side of the pitch? Surely it is better to stretch the play than all gather in a phonebox!
Who shed a tear for Chelsea yesterday after they fluffed another penalty shoot out? At least a third side can now lift the trophy at the new stadium.
We all shed a tear for Crawley Town after their brave effort at Old Trafford - maybe the Football League beckons and a new sort of derby game in years to come.