The Tour starts in forty five days!
So the new fixtures have been released and fans can start to plan the nine months starting on 3 August. Pompey have done very well out of the computer system for once with home games on the both the opening and closing days as well as a Boxing Day home fixture.
These days with League Two awaiting we do no longer look for Manchester United but Mansfield Town and Arsenal have been replaced by Accrington Stanley. Local derbies? The nearest now is AFC Wimbledon! In total Pompey will travel to thirteen new stadia and that will put the pressure on the sale of away match tickets. Fans will meet with club officials next Monday to agree the best and fairest way forward.
First up Oxford United come to Fratton Park which to them will be nothing new. The Us have played on God`s Green Acre twenty four time since their first visit back in 1968. The last being in 1998 when Steve Claridge scored both Pompey goals in a 2-2 draw. Since then the two clubs have been on wildly different paths; Pompey to the Premier League and the FA Cup and Oxford to the Conference for four season. The game to me sounds like a full house as Oxford are one of only a few clubs in this league capable of filling the Milton End.
Coincidentally one of the clubs that replaced Oxford in 2006 are the first to host Pompey. Accrington Stanley will be rubbing their hands over the prospect of a Pompey visit which will stretch their resources as the tiny Crown Ground - capacity just 5,000 with about 2,000 visitors. Pompey have played in the Lancashire Town before but at the old Peel Park in the FA Cup in 1959 - 12,500 there that day to watch a goalless draw-!! All clubs will be looking forward to entertaining Pompey and Accrington have won the lottery getting first go. These games will be really tough and Pompey`s new side have to learn quickly how to cope with the pressure.
The promotion odds at present show - 5/6 Pompey; 11/8 Fleetwood; 7/4 Chesterfield; 5/2 Bristol Rovers; 3/1 Scunthorpe; 4/1 Oxford. Three of those rivals visit Fratton in the first two months of the season. So a good home start could be key to a good season.
An extended season does have one advantage fewer midweek games. There are only three at home Wycombe Wanderers, Southend United and Burton Albion with two on the road Wycombe again and Rochdale. Every fan will be looking for their favourite and a lot of talked of three Devon trips, well Plymouth and Torquay are both in October and Exeter in February.
The return Dockyard derby brings down the curtain on the season on May 3rd and again should draw a bumper crowd to the Park. The Boxing Day match brings Dagenham and Redbridge to Fratton Park. The Daggers are early favourites for the drop and will hardly get the fans straining at the leash to get away from the seasonal festivities. The recent East End Christmas games for Pompey had featured West Ham, again how times have changed.
When Toast returns soon we will talk you all through the grand tour of Division Four. Tee shirts anyone? The Trust maybe.
Sat Aug 3: Oxford United (H)
Sat Aug 10: Accrington Stanley (A)
Sat Aug 17: Morecambe (H)
Sat Aug 24: Mansfield Town (A)
Sat Aug 31 Chesterfield (H)
Sat Sept 7: Cheltenham Town (A)
Sat Sept 14: Burton Albion (A)
Sat Sept 21: Fleetwood Town (H)
Sat Sept 28: York City (A)
Sat Oct 5: Rochdale (H)
Sat Oct 12: Plymouth Argyle (A)
Sat Oct 19: Bury (H)
Tue Oct 22: Wycombe Wanderers (H)
Sat Oct 26: Torquay United (A)
Sat Nov 2: Exeter City (H)
Sat Nov 16: AFC Wimbledon (A)
Sat Nov 23: Scunthorpe United (H)
Tue Nov 26: Southend United (H)
Sat Nov 30: Hartlepool United (A)
Sat Dec 14: Newport County (H)
Sat Dec 21 Bristol Rovers (A)
Thu Dec 26: Dagenham & Redbridge (H)
Sun Dec 29: Northampton Town (H)
Wed Jan 1: Southend United (A)
Sat Jan 4: Accrington Stanley (H)
Sat Jan 11: Oxford United (A)
Sat Jan 18 Mansfield Town (H)
Sat Jan 25 Morecambe (A)
Tue Jan 28: Wycombe Wanderers (A)
Sat Feb 1: Torquay United (H)
Sat Feb 8: Exeter City (A)
Sat Feb 15: AFC Wimbledon (H)
Sat Feb 22: Scunthorpe United (A)
Sat Mar 1: Chesterfield (A)
Sat Mar 8: Cheltenham Town (H)
Tue Mar 11: Burton Albion (H)
Sat Mar 15: Fleetwood Town (A)
Sat Mar 22: York City (H)
Tue Mar 25: Rochdale (A)
Sat Mar 29: Newport County (A)
Sat Apr 5: Hartlepool United (H)
Sat Apr 12: Dagenham & Redbridge (A)
Sat Apr 19: Bristol Rovers (H)
Mon Apr 21: Northampton Town (A)
Sat Apr 26: Bury (A)
Sat May 3: Plymouth Argyle (H)