Toast Season 4 # 28 - A Reading lesson.
Happy Mother`s Day to you all - to the Mothers anyway!
A Reading lesson
The run had to come to an end and ten man Pompey slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the Madj Stad yesterday but with other results going their way they are not totally out of the play off hunt but it is now very unlikely. I think we should just sit back and enjoy the rest of the season knowing that we will be in the Championship again next time out.
Reports on the game seem to suggest that Dave Kitson missed a few early chances and Pompey were made to pay for their profligacy. With Ricardo Rocca sent off by referee Friend for a professional foul the ten men ould create little and the second half seemed a dour affair.
The only good news was the appearance of Danny Webber for the last five minutes, his first action for over a year. What a great feeling it must have been for him after all the hard work and pain he has been through.
We have seen quite a number of Australian players in Pompey blue over the years and only two have really impressed the fans, John Aloisi and Hayden Foxe.
Terry Venables who had been the Socceroos boss bought over a number of players and they failed to make the grade Craig Foster and Hamilton Thorp are two names that come to mind.
Now we have Scott Neville on trial from Perth Glory and are being linked with a deal to sign for young International midfield player Mitch Nicholls from Brisbane Roar. We still await confirmation from Pompey of the Aussie press rumoured deal worth A$300,000 - they even have a quote from SC.
One thing is for sure SC will want his squad sorted well in advance of the pre-season tour wherever it is to. We must make a good start as it was the start to the current campaign that left us playing catch up. SC could not be blamed for the mess we were in back in the summer and has showed his ability by picking the slim squad and putting us safely in mid table. An average start would have seen us strong play-off contenders at the very least.
I see the winning goal for Israel in the week was scored by a certain Tal Ben Haim in his county`s 1-0 win over Georgia. His club was listed as Portsmouth in all the reports I could find - so where is he? If we are paying his wages why is he not playing this is a question which has never been answered.
First the good news - Sam Magri is off to Serbia in the summer with the England U17 squad after they sealed their place in the finals of the European championships. This is great news for the Pompey youngster born and bought up in Fratton. He has played a full part in the qualification and should all being well be selected for the finals.
Toast's Academy correspondent comments that Magri had failed to impress those who have watched the youngsters at Eastleigh in the past but is now showing signs of becoming a good player. Obviously England schoolboys coach Kenny Swain saw something in him that the fans did not.
On the other side a couple of Pompey younger players have been sent packing. Marlon Pack will probably sign for Cheltenham Town where he has been a hit during his loan spell but whether Tom Kilbey will join his current paymasters, Lincoln City is still up in the air.
Same fans are unhappy with the decisions but SC has had a season at the club and we must back his judgment. However you the Vital Pompey members expressed for views in your usual excellent way - 'thought he (Pack) looked very decent, in fact i thought he looked the better one (at the start) of him and Ward. Look how ward has come on with a bit of game time.` And 'Cotterill must know something we don`t. I think we have a squad of about seven for next season. Whilst I accept Kilbey and Pack were not PL players they would have been good championship squad players.
Rug put his views too 'disappointed that Cotterill has let another, who I thought was good enough to be a 'squad player' at least, go - but he knows best i guess...it`s a risky game we are playing, letting players we already own move on with the number that will leave anyway - especially if they 'seemed' to have something about them, which I thought Kilbey and Pack did!
Long time member sneakay added 'Does SC just want rid of every player who was here under a different manager, and build his own team from Stoke rejects. Really can't understand it. With the youth players we surely had a bunch of low paid players keen to do the best they can in order to make the first team.`
And the final comment 'I suspect that part of the problem is that they weren't particularly low paid. There's been a lot of rumours about the kind of money some of the youngsters were on, hangover from the Premier League 'Lets chuck money around' seasons.`
All great comments and as usual no arguing or backbiting just good constructive comments. We may have suffered a little with quantity of comments of late but the quality is certainly as high as ever.
History Lesson - Gates
Thought this week we would look at the size of the crowds to watch Pompey since the war and before the Premier League adventure. In total that is 2,800 games and a total attendance of nearly forty seven million giving an average attendance of 16,710.
Strangely the eight largest league gates - all over 60,000 were in either London six (three at Highbury, two White Hart Lane and one at the Valley) or Newcastle for the other two. In fact you have to go down the list to number eighteen before you come to a Pompey league game at Fratton Park and this is where I am afraid I must destroy another myth.
Your fathers and/or grandfathers probably told you there were 50,000 at the Park every week; well it was not true!! In fact Pompey only ever had two gates over 50,000 at home - the Derby cup game with the record of 51,385 and the record league gate of 50,248 on 1 October 1949 when the Champions hosted their old adversaries Wolves. Duggie Reid netted in a 1-1 draw. The ground I was told was capable of holding 58,000 in those days too!!
There have however been plenty of home games with 40,000 plus watching - twenty nine in total to be exact, so perhaps that is what dad meant eh! There have also been thirteen home FA Cup games in that bracket with visitors including Doncaster Rovers, Newport County and Lincoln City.
In the League Cup the largest crowds to watch Pompey games were at Manchester United in 1970 and Liverpool in 1980, both were 32,000 and I was at them both!! The biggest Fratton Park League Cup gate was the 28,100 for the first replay with Spurs in 1985.
Now we all know the smallest ever league crowd at Fratton was the 4,688 for the visit of Middlesbrough on 16 December 1972 - it was also probably the most boring game I have ever seen too, ending 0-0. However there have been ninety games watched by smaller crowds than that on the road including five smaller that 2,000 - they were at Halifax, Chester, Scunthorpe, Rochdale and Darlington where the all time low of 1,140 was achieved in 11 May 1979. Of those five games all but one was a Fourth Division game the exception being at Chester in January 1982.
The strange thing is of course that different days bring different gates and Scunny are a good example - 30 January 1954 FA Cup 4th round tie at the Old Show ground the crowd was 23,935 which is still Scunthorpe's record attendance. 3 April 1979 Fourth Division game at the Old Show ground the attendance was 1,535 the fourth lowest in Pompey history and of course thirty two years ago today!
to end on a sad note - David Rocastle passed away 10 years ago this week.