Ten years and three days on – Cup Winners – a look back
With the club, the News and local radio all taking the tenth anniversary of Pompey winning the FA Cup as an excuse to dig out their archive footage and pictures of the build-up and the day itself I thought let’s have a look at how Rug and I covered the historic event. Here at Vital Pompey.
I suppose you only have to at Rug’s forearm for a start, as on it he has the date XVII – V – MMVIII tattooed – yes that is 17 May 2008 in Roman numerals.
Other than covering the game and the lead up we also looked at how the game was shown around the world. The Toast in June 2008 I put together the following after a bit of research in local pubs! Fred who found himself in the Big Apple the week before the Final. The game as regular VP readers will know was only shown in the US of A on pay per view television but dotted all around the City are posters on lampposts Portsmouth v Cardiff with the clubs’ badges and where you can watch it. Photos have been seen as proof and when available will be posted in the albums.
PJ a Welshman but definitely not a Cardiff fan found himself in Tokyo on Final Day. On checking into his hotel he asked the reception staff where he could watch the game. The staff had difficulty in understanding our weary traveller but offered to find out for him. This was early morning and PJ hoped they had time to locate a suitably tuned television set before the 10pm kick off.
In his room, he scoured the channels available on the hotel system but to no avail and early afternoon, he passed reception and the staff beckoned him over. He was handed an itinerary to a Sports Bar in downtown Tokyo. The directions were of course in Japanese but a member of staff had diligently translated it all into English. All the necessary trains, platforms, walking distances etc were included. What fantastic service and how did they find out.
PJ sets off that evening following the instructions and eventually finds the bar. He walks inside and there leaning against the bar is a fan in a Pompey shirt!! Nigel is his name and he tells PJ that he was educated in Pompey but now works out of the City (London) and is based in Tokyo for some time.
The picture in the bar is not good and Nigel suggests the bar next door where they watch that famous victory and then it is a taxi back to base for PJ. Next stop for PJ on his whistle-stop tour in China.
There in China, he manages to catch glimpses of the victory parade on Chinese television with commentary such as ??? Harry Redknapp ???? etc. He tries to explain to the locals that you can see my house just over there.
Meanwhile, Sue is in deepest Thailand on holiday and on leaving the country is given the famous gift of orchids, which are wrapped in newspaper. When she arrives home in Southsea she carefully unwraps the orchids and notices the date of the paper is 17th. Across the back page is emblazoned a photograph of Harry and Joe Jordan on the training ground. Obviously an article on the upcoming game but who can read Thai?
It drew comments from around the world including one from Bellezza Biondi saying ‘very good to see everybody watch I see cup final in Italy very good moment when Kanu score the goal and win the champions.’
Rug published the story of Pompeygray, a real stalwart of Vital Pompey, as to how he got to Wembley as he lived near Melbourne in Australia. We had just beaten West Brom in a nail-biting finish, ensuring that we would return to Wembley on the 17th May for our first Final since 1939. When the final whistle blew my initial thoughts were “will I go over, and what about acquiring a ticket”.
This was to be a chance of a lifetime, but there were some hurdles to overcome, firstly I needed acceptance from my girlfriend. Then there was the question of taking time off work and approval from my boss (who actually hails from Southampton!) Organising and paying for the airfare would need to be overcome, but I had 2 major restrictions on my timeslots. I am a Warehouse Manager for a large French luxury goods Company and my understudy will be away from 24th April, returning 19th May. I also have to be at a wedding in Sydney on Saturday 24th May….how the hell am I going to be able to fit all this in, and the question of the ticket was still to be resolved.
Gray then went on a great length about his day he concludes his story on Sunday I was part of the 250,000 at Portsmouth the next day and followed the bus entourage all the way to Southsea common, but not before purchasing a 2008 FA Cup Winners ‘T’ shirt, Poster and News Mail. A digital version of my number plate in NSW (POMPEY) even ended up on the lead bus, and some great photos of this and the previous day’s events will long recall the most successful trip I have ever undertaken back to my beloved homeland.
Returning to Australia out of Heathrow Thursday night I had come to the conclusion that this was a dream come true, and I just wanted to sit back and take it all in, every single solitary moment, over and over again. I did not get to watch the replay until Sunday 25th as Jet Lag and the over exuberance of the previous week had finally caught up with me.
It was a day we never dreamt would happen and those of us there will never forget it! My story included I had been watching Pompey for nearly 50 years and never had I felt so tense before a game, the feeling was one of we must win, we have to win despite the fact that I had been surrounded by the doom and gloom merchants for weeks in the run-up. They had been saying we were not playing well and that Cardiff would up their game and beat us. I knew this could not happen, we must win!! The tension would be with everybody until 10 to 5.
As we entered the stadium the first person I see is the omnipresent Chix holding a beer firmly in his right hand and food in his left. With him is his sidekick and brother sea-juicer (known to most as Rob) who seems to have the job of fetching and carrying the beer while Chix holds court. Meeting Chix only makes the matters worse as he is determined to milk the situation with his ‘this is great’ and ‘we’re gonna do it’ comments.
It is then we spot a chap near one of the bars blowing up inflatables. We venture closer and find a fellow who claims that you have to bring blow up toys to big games and among his collection he has a paddling pool, which his mate is reclining in. Cameras are clicking all around to capture this classic moment.
And then it is in the seats situated right behind the goal, in fact, we watched most of the game through the goal net. Abide with me and then the anthems fly by and the tension just builds and builds. Then just before kick off before my phone beeps, a message arrives from Chix which I think summed it up perfectly ‘Oh my God this is amazing, Play up Pompey, bring it home’.
The game kicks off and the area behind the goal is a mass of balloons and inflatable sheep constantly hitting you on the head – most annoying. Like most fans, I remember little of the game until the 37th minute when Pompey scored – or did they? From our vantage point and those around us, we thought that it had gone wide or had been disallowed. We did not see the net bulge or Kanu’s celebration because of the net. Then we see a replay and pandemonium breaks out, people are jumping around some are crying others just stare in disbelief. This is the FA Cup final and we are in front, can we hold on?
Half time arrives and off to the loo to run into, yes, of course, the omnipresent Chix pint in hand and now fish and chips have been delivered by loyal bro Rob. Chix has by now lost his voice among many things and is stunned. Can we hold on he asks will we win the FA Cup after all these years?
The second half starts and we continue to watch the clock rather than the game. My wife spends 48 minutes praying, two young boys next to me look almost terrified and they tell me how nervous they are. I try and settle them by telling them I have been through 50 years of this and survived and to try and enjoy the moment because it may never happen again. It works as they simply put their jackets over their heads.
We try and break the tension with the Chimes and other songs but there is still that feeling, we must win! The time starts to run down and Pompey create a few chances, Cardiff rarely threaten but the nerves are now raw. The fourth official holds up three minutes additional time and about an hour later the whistle blows. There is now euphoria all around as an outburst of emotion takes control of most, everyone is hugging someone, to be honest, anyone, most are in tears as it starts to sink in, we have won.
Good luck Darren
With just about every Premier League looking for a manager after a ridiculous week with sackings for Sam Allardyce, Paul Lambert, Carlos Carvahal and David Moyes along with Arsene Wenger’s departure you wonder what is going on? Some clubs will never learn.
Do they not remember that a club down the road decided to sack their manager after he had a successful season and so very nearly paid the ultimate price.
However, I have no doubt that most Pompey fans will join me in wishing Darren Moore the very best of luck after being appointed head coach at West Brom. Darren, 44, played over sixty games as a centre back for Pompey around the turn of the century and always gave at least 100%.
Quite a number of ex-Pompey stars are now plying their trade north of the border and a few are included in post season action.
Curtis Main and Trevor Carson appeared in the Cup Final yesterday but sadly as expected fell to a 2-0 defeat to all-conquering Celtic.
Meanwhile, Adam Barton’s Partick Thistle side are battling for their Premier League lives at Firhill this afternoon being 2-1 down to Livingstone after the first leg.
Fair to say Elfsborg defender Robert Gojani had an absolute mare this week – scoring an own goal and getting sent off before their Allsvenskan match against Häcken was 20 minutes old. His hilarious no-look effort sent Elfsborg on their way to a 5-0 hammering. Oh dear.