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Away day with the blues

Now then, away matches change shape as you get older. My first ones were with my dad, away to Spurs, Oxford back in 1985, Huddersfield in 1986 and then upon leaving school in September 1987, away days generally became more and more frequent.

Now then, all this changed for me again upon becoming a father for the first time in 1997.

the big matches still went without saying, Bradford away to stay up, beating the then mighty Leeds at Elland road in the cup, Man U etc. etc.

Generally though the games were becoming more and more select, as the kids kept coming (I have 3) the games become more select, anyone with 3 kids under the age of 10 will know where I am coming from. No more driving to Sunderland on a Tuesday for an evening match, then going to work the next morning, (this was a trip actually made to sample the Stadium of Light before Sunderlands promotion, we genuinely thought we wouldn't get another chance!) and no more up to Walsall for a meaningless league fixture.

In recent years Fulham has been a favourite, easy to get to on the train, a good evening on the shant in Leicester square, and generally a good result.

This year as soon as the fixtures came out, Newcastle was the cry, my ticket on a plane was booked, the travelodge booked well in advance, and the date for along weekend on Tyneside was engraved on my missus' psyche long enough for her to digest the thought of 3 days with the kids to herself!

Away days are now a special occasion for me, so me and a group of 15 others met up at 4 o'clock on the Friday and started the process.

With most of the other lads coming from a similar position as myself, this felt more like a weekend at Butlins was approaching, not just a trip so see our heroes try to win on a jinxed ground in the North.

Our first obstacle was the airport at Eastleigh, a 3 hour delay was irritating to say the least, but at least the bar was open, then at 9pm we took flight.

Arriving at our digs was a great feeling, the main Travel Inn is next door to a Liquid nightclub, nice location when you arrive at about quarter to 11!

Saturday is what it is all about though, up at 9 for breakfast, and then the phones start ringing, the rest of the Pompey hoardes are arriving in droves, some in cars , but most arriving on the morning planes.

SamJacks was the designated meeting spot, so it was over to the other side of town and into what must be the greatest pre-match venue you could wish for.

or those not having had the pleasure of visiting it, SamJacks is a huge pub, packed solid with both sets of fans enjoying the banter. Arsenal and ManU slugged it out first on the giant screens, while the dancers do their bit to keep your eyes off the football. A pre-match MC comes out to stir the crowd up, with one unfortunate Pompey fan having to do the away day challenge. This consists of downing a pint of Cream, then fizzy water, then orange juice and then for a finale a pint of Guinness. A bin is ready to catch the inevitable stomach contents, to be fair though our boy did admirably, only the last few drops of guinness did for him.

At 2-30 the short trip to St.James' was made, the noise levels were as high as our spirits, and we took our seats.

What happened next was nothing short of miraculous, everyone knows the score by now, but to witness 10,000 Geordies exit the ground after Utaka's 3rd, was one of the greatest moment I have had in football, Pompey truly were up there with the best. Even the token scummer with us (Darren Leishman you have been named) sang the Pompey chants and revelled in the unexpected result.

After the match it was a quick change and time for the proper party. The Geordies were not amused, but in all honesty, everyone one of them I met that evening, took it with grace and just accepted Pompey had turned their beloved Magpies over.

Newcastle is a fantastic place to drink out in after a match, the beer is still 2 and hospitality right up there.

One tip though, never take a taxi at 3-30 in the morning, the driver promised us a late night drinking hole, 5 and we would be in and 2 a pint thereafter. Trust me, a gay sauna was not what we had in mind!

Roll on the next away day, but this one will live long in the memory, if you can make it next year, and like me you have to be a bit select on your travels, you could do little worse than an weekend on Tyneside.

Cheers Newcastle

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The Journalist

Writer: paultsmouth Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Wednesday November 14 2007

Time: 9:42PM

Your Comments

fantastic paul, brilliant read and its made me even more envious of what was a truely outstanding performance... living where i do now - just outside of plymouth - makes every game an 'away' game but the 'real' away games are great arent they - in the late 90s i went to virtually every away game and had some fantastic times at the likes of stockport, crewe, ipswich, norwich, forest etc - even if the results didnt match the days out... i reckon i was probably at the sunderland game at the stadium of light you speak of, was it one of the 1st, if not the 1st seasons they had it, probably 99/2000 season i think and i think we lost 2-0 if memory serves me? that was probably my best away day ever, the natives up there were fantastic too.
Agreed, away days are the best, as indeed are northern folk, generally southern towns and cities are far far less hospitable, its sad but in my experience true.
I love the trip to the away games, however it is the journey back i always find so long and boring. I loved the smaller grounds like Oxford and Crewe etc, but now it is great to go with Pompey to these great theatres of football, and especially now we are a competetive team, it is not just the day out, we can expect to take points off them. Great article mate and it does bring back some great memories.
Getting to Grimsby one late December cold day was an effort. I got off the train at Grimsby, which seemed reasonable at the time, found a Wetherspoons right outside the station and thought this is going to be a good day. Then realised when I had to pay 5 quid for the cab ride that I should have got off at Cleethorpes. Peter Crouch opened the scoring and everything looked great. Harry Rednapp sat metres away from me (as Director of football) whilst Graham Rix did his best to lose the game....1-3 we went down...I turned to Redknapp and said "surely you can do better than this bloke 'arry". He twitched and gesticulated, but I will never be sure to this day whether he really heard me or not or whether he was having convulsions at the thought !! Grimsby went on to be relegated, Harry got the job, but I still went home disappointed. Roger (who does the ground tours at Fratton) assured me that I could get in the lounge on News Years Day V Wimbledon (post match)....I travelled down from Godalming on a crisp but clear day only to find out that the match had been postponed due to a frozen pitch !! A Man City supporter back at the pub in ASH laughed, that was until I produced a video I purchased in the Pompey Shop POMPEY 2 MAN CITY 1 (with 'Kamakazi' in goal for us)... I said this cost less than what I would have paid for today's game, his words were unrepeatable.
Not forgetting of course a great rendition from Paultsmouth. Come to think of it I sail out of Newcastle on the 18th December so I will take a look at some of Paul's watering holes....more later.
fantastic stuff pompeygray - more great, and highly amusing memories shared here! i bet 'arry did hear you when you said that about rix - as he often fidgits when he is alittle uneasy about something, he knew you were right...
I remember years ago going to Grimsby to see Pompey only to be told we were in the wrong town, thats one of the benefits of Sat Nav isnt it!! and isnt that bloody Findus stand cold, i spent a year in there one 90 minutes!!
Sounds a great day out Paul, definitely envious. Really used to enjoy the days up north in the past Huddersfield 1985, Bolton 1970 Hull 1970 all great times. At Hull, we spent the weekend there too, cheap beer good clubs and we won 1-0!
I think my first away game was Aldershot late 70's we won 2-0 in old 4th Div. I was 12 or 13. Northampton away when we were promoted out of the 4th. Lots of Plymouth & Swindon games. Furthest north for a pointles game was at Crewe, late 90's & we ost 3-1. Huddersfield & Bradfords for staying up in those dire 90s seasons. Married with family now so it's 1 or 2 a season. I ususally die a thousand deaths listening to them on the radio, though lately it's been brilliant.
i went to crewe 2 years running in the late 90s... think we lost both and pretty sure one was a 3-1 defeat, so probably the one you were at storagematt. i know one of them saw rory allen make 'another' attempted comeback, i cannot remember if he made it through, or broke down again - i think he might have broken down again... a swindon i remember quite well was a 3-3 draw, i think we went 1-0 up but had a player sent off then the late aaron flahavan got injured - think we were already 2-1 down by then - so russel perret went in goal, we were 3-1 down at half time i think but came back to draw 3-3 in the end - this was the game when we had both ends behind the goals! im certain this was also the day that i met milan mandaric and alan ball in a hotel in swindon with some other south west supporters club members

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