Finally some shoot out joy!
Pompey's penalty shoot out win against Liverpool on Friday to win the Barclays Asia Cup might not have been the biggest penalty shoot out win in the world - and by no means makes up for the most devastating one, the '92 FA cup semi final, also against Liverpool - but it at least sees someone I desperately wanted to win a spot kick contest win for a change!
The dreaded spot kick curse started in the early 90's with what I thought would be the most devastating one ever - this was even before that cup tie - this was the 1990 world cup shoot out with Germany when Mr reliable Stuart Pearce and Mr mullet Chris Waddle both missed as England went out in the semis.
2 years later, with an FA cup final place up for grabs, came the fateful night when Pompey lost out on penalties to Liverpool in 'that' replay. Sunderland awaited the winners, with us fancying our chances of winning the cup if we could make it.
Sadly, one of the most devastating times in Pompey's modern history saw us crash out due to Bruce Grobbelaar in the Liverpool goal. This was the most painful way I have ever followed Pompey, as I had to endure this torture by listening to it on the radio and that made it even worse.
I could finally sample the sweet taste of shoot out victory, with a case of third time luck as England beat the Spaniards at Euro '96. How great it feels to be on the winning end of a shoot out win and makes the post match beverages much easier to swallow, most definitely more enjoyable.
However since that Saturday afternoon in 1996 it had been down hill all the way until we went to Hong Kong.
The semi final of Euro '96 saw us again lose to Germany with Gareth Southgate the unfortunate victim and a poor England side lose out to the old foe Argentina in the 2nd round of the '98 world cup as Paul Ince and David Batty failed to convert - the latter despite Kevin Keegan's assurances that he would.
Years of agony followed with both Pompey and England, but it was not until Euro 2004 that the spot kick curse returned after a 6 years absence - but the outcome was the same, David Beckham skied his effort, looking angrily at the turf and Darius Vassell had his effort saved.
Fast forward two years and 'England's year' as ever at the 2006 world cup saw it end in similar circumstances, penalty saves by England's newest nemesis Ricardo from Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher meant the end of the road at the quarter finals.
Even as recently as this summer the England U21's were beaten after 36 penalties had been taken 13-12 in a dramatic defeat to Holland in the semi finals of the U21 European championships with 'Rio's' brother Anton Ferdinand the unlucky man.
During this time I have witnessed hundreds of shoot outs, including clubs and countries in many competitions that I have wanted to win that have won, but none meant anywhere near as much to me as it would a Pompey or England shoot out win.
So, when it came down to a shoot out with Liverpool on Friday as much as I clearly wanted Pompey to win past experiences of desperately wanting a win had not often served me well, so I was not holding my breath, particularly with the record Liverpool had in shoot outs, including the already mentioned heart breaking one in the cup.
Much to my delight we came through triumphantly after some cracking spot kicks and great saves from David James.
I am not going to say that this has ended my fear of future spot kick deciders I will no doubt see, nor has gaining some sort of revenge over Liverpool for '92 erased that memory, it has simply helped sooth it very slightly and has at least made me remember what the feeling is like to win a shoot out; it has only taken 11 years - I just hope if I do have to go though more it will not be that long until I am on the winning side again!
PLAY UP POMPEY!
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