(Or Trains, Planes and the Pompey Supporters Coach . . .)
The cup semi-final with West Brom promises to be a great adventure for both sets of fans; it should be a great day, with an electric atmosphere.
But this isn’t my first big adventure regarding West Brom.
It was towards the end of the 1987-88 season. Alan Ball’s Pompey were pushing for promotion to Division 1. I was a modern languages student on my ‘sandwich’ year, and was staying in Mainz, Germany. But through the ancient technology of the day, i.e. the BBC world service and the availability of English newspapers, I was still in touch with all things Pompey.
I can’t tell you the exact date now, I think it was a mid-week game but I’m not even sure of that now. But what I do know is that if Pompey won their match at West Brom and another result or 2 went their way, they’d be promoted.
I couldn’t bear to miss it. Missing it was not an option. I had to go. So I got the train to Frankfurt airport. I paid a small fortune (especially for a student) for an air ticket to Heathrow. (I think it was about £300). Then I got on a train to Birmingham.
I had no real idea exactly where West Brom’s ground was in relation to central Birmingham. I bought a cup of tea and some chips in the main shopping centre, the Bull Ring, then asked directions to the bus station. When I got to the bus station, I asked again. It seems I was in the wrong bus station, for the wrong bus company. I will never forget the kindness of the man who walked with me to the correct bus station, and due to him, I managed to catch a bus out into the suburbs to the Hawthorns.
Amazingly, as I approached the away end and the turnstile (very few matches were all ticket in those days) I saw one of my friends just going through, they’d just got off the supporter’s coach. I hadn’t actually told anybody, my friends, my parents, anybody that I was going. So they were a little surprised to see me, to say the least.
Of course, typical Pompey (of back then, anyway) they lost the match and didn’t go up that day. They did go up later that season and it happened when Shrewsbury won a midweek game, when we weren’t playing, meaning their opponents couldn’t catch us.
I was able to get a seat on a supporters coach back to Pompey and then rang my Mum when I got to Cosham, to say ‘guess where I am’.
So now you all know how completely barking mad I am, I’ll just say I hope our next meeting with the Baggies is as much of an adventure, but obviously hope for a better result this time! I certainly had not a small amount of luck on my side the last time, even if that day it didn’t translate onto the pitch. This time I’m sure it will.
Written by tracyc.
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