Toast Season 4 # 33 - the party's over!
Yesterday afternoon at about 2:40pm Pompey`s 2010/11 campaign came to an end in North Lincolnshire with the side picking up their 58th point of the season and finishing in sixteenth position. It was a season Pompey fans did not look forward to as their side were amongst the pre season favourites for relegation and the squad was so short in numbers there was a threat that the club might be unable to field an experienced side.
But those problems were all overcome by a squad while small in quantity was high in quality and also high in determination to play through injuries and every other problem thrown at them for their manager and their fans. The vast majority of those 58 points were accumulated in two exceptional spells of form and without them relegation could have been a real danger.
We had no fewer than six loan players during the season and special thanks must go to them and their clubs for allowing them to join the fight to survive in the Championship while the club waits for ownership issues to be finalised.
It is then a season to be forgotten and there have not been too many of those recently. The only plus points would be the discovery of Joel Ward a fine all round player and the great job done by Steve Cotterill as a manager under pressure. The negatives have been the disciplinary problems that have increased as the season rolled on and added to that the tendency of certain players to chase the referee around the pitch arguing their case after every decision that went against them.
Back to the game which I gather was instantly forgettable from a Pompey viewpoint. In the first half they were awful - the words of the team themselves - and a little better in the second. David Nugent's equaliser came with a twice deflected shot after a real goalmouth scramble; it was his fourteenth of the season and probably his last. My contacts tell me that Bolton would appear to be favourites for his signature and as that would mean a return to his native Lancashire it would seem to make some sense.
So how many of the fifteen players Pompey managed to get onto the pitch and bench will never wear a blue shirt with the star and crescent again? Only time will tell that but there were eight members from the final game last season (the Cup Final!) who never played again and quite possibly that number could be approached again.
Regulars on pompeyrama will have noticed that Jimbon has just reached the 1000 games mark. Jim is an occasional contributor to Toast and we shall be talking to him over the summer about that achievement and his memories of some of those games.
Jim is quite a few years younger than me and I am still trailing back in third place on the list with just 967. This season he has given up on attending away games as we were always getting hammered as he told me. In the past he had been an away season ticket holder.
Good to see under fire official Sian Massey running the line at Cardiff on Monday. The thumping for the Bluebirds was a big surprise but Sian's faultless performance on the line was not.
• To all those who were involved in the organisation of Fans Day last Monday afternoon and evening. The last estimate for the amount raised was £6,000 with more funds still to come. Once again, well done and remember this event was run by the fans for the fans with the clubs cooperation. The 1898 tifo certainly was a hit - as you can see from my photo above.
• To the club for naming all their employees on the official website and thanking them for getting the club through the season.
• To the 1500 who made their way to Scunthorpe yesterday - a 500 mile round trip for a game that meant nothing and they got soaking wet too.
Out with Guinness and in with Port!
After our too brief excursion into European football we certainly know a bit about Portuguese football having made two trips to the country. Well some of you will probably have missed the Europa League Semi-Finals in the week which featured three clubs from Portugal.
The results have now left us with a final between Braga and Porto which Pompey fans will know is a local derby with the two clubs just thirty five miles apart! The only problem for their fans is the game is in Dublin on 18th May. A great achievement for two clubs from a country not known for the strength of its club game and probably only Benfica have been consistent in European competition - they were incidentally the club who missed out being beaten by Braga on away goals.
As exclusively mentioned here a few weeks ago your old friend Chix is back with a regular Thursday slot 'Chew the fat with Chix'.
Starting at 7:30 on both the front page and the forum there is a chance to stir up any matter concerning Pompey with the unique character that Chix is. Put it in your diary and cancel the pilates classes now.
Cup final day
I know I am an old fashioned **** but surely the Football Association have totally devalued what they like to call the world`s premier cup competition. When I was a young lad the Cup Final was the highlight of the season and marked the end of the season. It was the only live television game and millions would sit down in their living rooms to watch 'the` game. The players became household names and outside kids would re-enact the action over and over again.
The FA have now decided that on Saturday lunchtime at 12:45 four Premier League games will kick off including sides fighting the drop and at Ewood Park a game in which Manchester United could clinch the league title.
We have of course experienced two of the last three final days and to see this attempt to devalue the whole occasion is saddening to say the least. Will we see the FA Cup become a midweek competition in the future like in other countries? Will European qualification be withdrawn for the winners?
As a footnote in the Premier League game scheduled for next weekend Manchester City would have entertained Stoke City!
You have to feel sorry for Exeter City fans next season when they will feel they are in Division Three North. The only club anywhere near them will be Yeovil Town.
They have lost neighbours Plymouth, Bristol Rovers and Swindon relegated with Brighton, Southampton and possibly Bournemouth going up. In their place they have trips to Preston, Sheffield United, Scunthorpe, Chesterfield and Bury; how they must be praying that Torquay and not Accrington come up through the play offs.
A club with average gates of just 6,000 cannot afford to be loaded with these huge additional travel costs and perhaps proves we need regional leagues - even in the conference clubs like Barrow and Eastbourne Borough have some huge trips to make on very limited income.
Wouldn't it make more sense economically? The headline - for those not in the know refers to the Grecians who are Exeter City and the number of miles they will have to travel next season.
Firstly to Robbie Savage the player opposition fans love to hate who played his final game yesterday. We will miss him as the game needs characters. He marked his final game at Reading with a booking!
So that is the end of Season 4 of Sunday Toast but we will continue with occasional editions through the summer months with special reporter Al Fresco adding some exclusive pieces (I hope).
Remember your contributions are always welcome just send them in. Thanks for your support and maybe we will meet up an the annual Hermann Hreidarsson birthday bash in early July - more of that later.