Toast 6#5 Bright but not beautiful
It was a beautiful sunny afternoon at Fratton Park yesterday but there was nothing to enjoy about a lack-lustre Pompey performance as they slipped to another home defeat.
Walsall had not won in seven visits to Fratton Park since March 1980.
But the Saddlers headed for the South Coast on the back of a four-game unbeaten run in League One, having not lost since the opening day 3-0 home defeat by Doncaster Rovers.
The first half was pedestrian with Pompey playing patient football but not really troubling the Saddlers' keeper Grof. Out of the blue Walsall were two up with long range efforts from Baxendale and Cuvelier neither could be blamed on keeper Andersen. Izale McLeod pulled one back but Pompey could not create much and only rarely threatened.
All in all a very disappointing day as Pompey wanted to kick start their season after the win at Crawley but the fans had to be congratulated for not getting on the players backs. Kevin Long cam off just before break with a back injury - will that be the last we see of him?
The chance to put things right comes quickly as Swindon come to town on Tuesday.
First off must apologise for the non appearance of Toast last Sunday. This was due to me having to be in London at short notice. Bit of a shame really as I had almost finished the column but do not fear I have saved it from the bin.
So here are the best bits from last week -
Did anyone notice that at the JPT with AFCB on the club/sponsors board behind those being interviewed appeared Convers Sports Initiatives? Also on that subject was Lee Bradbury on Sky talking about JPT and then the next day joining Pompey at the Academy a coincidence?
On the subject of old boys Hermann's back - well he was last week but sadly looks like a short term arrangement. How we would all love a chance to say thanks to the big hearted Icelander
My dentist being a Cork boy tells me that Kevin Long is the first Pompey player to be born in the Irish City. I will investigate that one closely.
Paul Connolly has gone back to Leeds as he picked up a groin injury - Pompey cannot afford to have injured players when they can only field five loanees. Gabor Gyepes arrived on a short term deal but was injured after just forty minutes of his debut. Pompey may have to use their fifth loan berth to bring in another defender rather than a striker.
Pompey`s first competitive game in West Sussex brought a record crowd to Crawley Town's Broadfield Stadium which has recently been expanded to a capacity of 5,996. We were going to suggest that the match would attract a record crowd and we would have been right at Tindall, who was also an outstanding cricketer for Surrey, brought through generations of youngsters and coaches as director of football coaching for WA.
He was awarded the country's Order of Australia Medal in 2008, and the WA coach of the year award was renamed the Ron Tindall Medal in his honour in 2011.
Many of you will have read the tribute to the late Ron Tindall I wrote last week. Interestingly Ron`s obituary ran in most of the broadsheets and other sites such as cricinfo!
As I mentioned Ron was awarded the country's Order of Australia Medal in 2008 but I have also discovered that the Western Australia coach of the year award was renamed the Ron Tindall Medal in his honour in 2011.
Of course Ron was not the only cricketer to play for Pompey at that time as keeper Jim Standen also played as a bowler for Worcestershire. Standen was signed by Ron when manager!
Quite a number of Pompey players around that time were more than useful cricketers including Brian Lewis who I gather had a trial with Surrey. The club would regularly field a team in Portsmouth Cricket week which was played at St Helen`s field every August.
Pen Pics - part 3
Gabor Gyepes - 31 - tall centre back who has won twenty six caps for his native Hungary. Spent five years at Ferencvaros before switching to England with Wolves. He has also played for Northampton and Cardiff before joining Pompey this month. His debut against Crawley was his 100th league appearance in England.
I bet you have always wondered how the fixtures are drawn up every season and why you have to make such long trips the weekend before Christmas - remember Pompey are at Hartlepool on 22nd December. Well there is a fans representative on the Fixtures Working Party and Ian Todd of the Football Supporter`s Federation tells us the story.
"There are so many factors to be worked in before even arranging domestic fixtures. The first is the international calendar which has to be laid over the top - World Cup qualifiers, the Euros, and agreed international friendly dates. Once that has been done you overlap the UEFA competitions - the Europa League and Champions League.
"You also have to consider FA Cup rounds and replays, while the end of the season can be conditioned by the Euros or World Cup. Minimum release dates for international tournaments also apply which is why the Championship play-offs finish one week before the others this year, so that their players can be released for the Euros. Next season also starts late because of Olympics football too."
It`s enough to give you a headache and Ian hasn`t even started on the domestic calendar proper.
Around the time the FWP meets, every club receives a questionnaire which will help shape the season. Do you prefer midweek games on a Tuesday or Wednesday? 7.45pm or 8pm kick-offs? Are there any home dates you wish to avoid? QPR don't want to play on the same date as the Notting Hill Festival, Liverpool don`t want to clash with the Grand National, and so on.
Crucially, clubs are also 'paired` so that, say, Arsenal and Spurs don`t play at home on the same weekend. Pairing local rivals might seem a relatively straightforward task but never underestimate the potential for problems when it comes to football.
Ian explains: "Pairings don't change too often, although promotions and relegations can affect them along with other considerations. For example, Swindon and Oxford requested not to play on the same day at home because they shared the same stewarding contractor who couldn't provide stewards to both on the same day!"
Boxing Day and New Year`s Day fixtures are a particular bone of contention for clubs and fans. While supporters would often like to play their local rivals on these days (because public transport is non-existent) the commercial departments at clubs certainly don't. Bigger crowds are guaranteed anyway as people just want to get out of the house over Christmas so clubs 'save' their derby for an otherwise quiet weekend, rather than blow it on a bank holiday date that would prove popular regardless.
Ian keeps a close eye on festive fixtures to ensure fans have relatively nearby games and asks for a long-list of midweek games to review for potential problems. "The Premier League normally has three midweek fixtures over the course of a season, the Championship has nine, Leagues One and Two have five or six. I don`t think they used to care about giving people very long midweek trips but they got fed up with me complaining and now they do try.
"Of nine dedicated midweek fixtures in the Championship only two or three games will be longer distances. I know Hull and Brighton played each other midweek as did West Ham and Middlesbrough but apart from that here weren`t many. It`s impossible to accommodate everyone but think they`re doing a good job now."
There's little doubt that long distance midweek fixtures frustrate the away fan more than almost anything else. Being on a pitch black motorway at midnight after an away annihilation is no-one`s idea of fun. But move that fixture to a more fan-friendly Saturday afternoon and there might be dozens of untold knock on effects - it isn't always just about your club.
The fixture compilers acknowledge their system isn`t perfect, it needs constant refinement, and sometimes they have to choose the "least worse option" that might help half-a-dozen clubs and hinder one. More often than not you`re one of the half-dozen and benefit from this while others lose out without you ever realising.
To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, you can please some of the fans all of the time, and all of the fans some of the time, but you can't please all of the fans all of the time. And if you know different, there`s a million dollar prize with your name on it.
An interesting insight and I know that will answer a number of questions I have been asked over the years.
Wycombe Wanderers - who are they? More new opposition this time in the JPT and cheap prices again too £10 and £5 - 9 October. Pack the Park.
Ownership battle - has TB extended the deadline (again) to allow SAF to get his money into a British bank account? I for one believe the best outcome would be for SAF to take back control and clear the debts and then allow fans or the Trust to buy shares and have a seat on the board. I suppose it is always possible that we might avoid the ten point deduction. Perhaps that is why TB is being a patient administrator and of course PKF's fees are still totting up!.
I also assume that the new kit will not be available until the ownership is settled. Kappa will not want to manufacture shirts for a club heading towards liquidation. So fans will have to be patient.
PUP and Trust in Appy
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