Pompey’s last game of 2007 sees them entertain Middlesbrough this coming Saturday.
After a much-improved performance on Boxing Day they now meet a side who have not won at Fratton Park in their last eight visits and who have yet to triumph over Pompey in the Premier League.
This will be the 49th league meeting between the sides at Fratton since they first met in April 1925 in the old Division Two; Pompey winning the inaugural match 3-1 – Billy Haines amongst the goal scorers. In August that year Boro got their revenge, with what is still their biggest win at the Park, 5-1.
Since those early meeting the two clubs histories have remarkable similarities. Pompey were promoted with Boro in 1926/27. Boro were relegated the next season but bounced straight back as Division champions in 1928/29. They were both then in Division One until Boro’s relegation at the end of 1953/54.
Pompey followed Boro to the second flight of English football in 1959 and in the sixties they both spent one season in Division Three but returned after only one year. It was not until the end of the 1973/74 season that the two clubs paths diverged for any length of time when a Jack Charlton managed Middlesbrough won the Division Two title by a street (15 points clear – with only two points for a win). The two sides were then apart for ten years before Pompey returned to Division Two in 1983.
The last similarity concerns promotions to the Premier League. Middlesbrough were promoted in 1998 and Pompey followed five years later. Harry Redknapp learnt from Boro’s success by signing two of their players Paul Merson and Gianluca Festa – Read The Rabbi’s excellent article on Festa here.
Following these elevations both clubs have remained in the top flight ever since.
Over the years a couple of the home games with Boro spring to mind for rather different reasons. The first took place on 16 December 1972. This game is remembered as being the first time future Chairman John Deacon visited the ground and for the visit of famous referee Clive Thomas of Treorchy in Wales. Clive had one of his typical games whistle, whistle and more whistle. The game ended 0-0 but why it goes down in history was the crowd of 4,688 – the lowest ever for a league game at Fratton Park – I was one of them and the game was awful.
The other notable game took place in January 1980 when Pompey of the Fourth Division progressed to the Third round of the FA Cup – after three games with Wimbledon (refereed by Clive Thomas!!) They met First Division Middlesbrough under the Fratton lights. This game fired the imagination of the locals and 31,743 crammed into the ground to see a classic FA Cup David and Goliath clash. Irish wizard Terry Cochrane gave the visitors the early lead but Pompey roared on by the massive crowd fought back with Terry Brisley hitting the bar.
Into the second half and at last Brisley equalised but could Pompey win it? They poured forward but Boro were dangerous on the break and then in the last minute Alan Rogers crossed and Jeff Hemmerman netted. Mass celebration but the Linesman’s flag was raised for offside and referee Spencer disallowed the goal. No television in those days but I have not heard from anyone in the ground that night who thought it was offside. For the record Boro won the Ayresome Park replay 3-0.
Interestingly all three of Pompey FA Cup meetings with the Tees-siders have been decided by replays, the last being the memorable fifth round tie of 1992. Pompey won the replay 4-2 and progressed to the Semi Final. The only cup-tie not requiring a replay was in December 1988 when Boro beat Pompey 2-1 in the Second round of the Simod Cup but even that needed extra time. There was a rumour that Chix was researching a possible multi-part article on Pompey and the late lamented Simod Cup – he will no doubt let us know how it is going but as it lasted for only two games I doubt it will take long!!
Of the forty-eight league games at Fratton Park, Pompey have won twenty-eight and Middlesbrough ten. How do you think Saturday’s games will finish? Enter your prediction here.
Written by eastneydave.
The views within this article are the views of the individual who wrote and submitted this piece, sometimes solely theirs. They are not necessarily shared by the Vital Pompey Site Journalists.
To join the Vital Pompey debate – in the forum or with comments on articles – simply take a few seconds to register an account.