Date: 10th January 2009 at 8:17pm
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Well Toast is back after the Christmas/New Year break and Santa has provided a new laptop to type it on as well.

What do we plan this year? Well more of the same plus hopefully the odd interview with players from the past. We will look at games from the past and other interesting historical items and also reflections on current day subjects. Of course Vital Pompey is ‘for the fans by the fans’ and we are here to give you what YOU want.

Birthdays has of course been running for a full year now so we have to think out a different angle on it and hopefully Pat Neil will help with that task. He can give some unique anecdotes including possibly letting us know where they are now which we know always interests the older fan. Birthdays will return shortly but just to tell you that today marks the 83rd anniversary of the birth of an all time Pompey legend, Jimmy Scoular.

Jimmy signed for Pompey in 1945 from Gosport Borough and went on to become a key member of the double Championship winning side. He won nine Scotland with Pompey and was sold in 1953 to Newcastle for £26,000 as the team of 1948-50 began to break up. At Newcastle he captained them to win the cup in 1955. He had a successful spell managing Cardiff City in the early 70’s.

Jimmy who passed away in 1998 was famously described by Duncan Edwards as being the best tackler he ever came across. He was a fiery character and to use an analogy used by an older fan recently he made Joey Barton look like a pussycat!!

He also scored a famous goal against Manchester City in March 1948. Frank Swift, the great City goalie (40’s terminology), had spent the entire game catching the ball with one hand. This did not over impress Jimmy and he hit a free kick from well over forty yards. Swift again tried to catch the ball one handed but the ball slipped from his grasp and over the line for the only goal of the game. It was also Jimmy’s first goal for Pompey.

Norman Piper was 61 on Thursday and I have dropped him an email in the States. If I get a reply you will read it here first.

10 years ago

We thought we might start by looking back at games that were played in this week and started by going back ten years. We find that on 9th January 1999 we were playing Watford at Vicarage Road. The game ended 0-0 and nothing of note happened. Sammy Igoe was thought by the press to be the Man if the Match.

The big news at the time was the impending date of 3 February when the Inland Revenue were taking action over the £400,000 they were owed. Were the club on the brink of extinction?

20 years ago

Pompey were playing Swindon for the third time in eight days. This time it was at the County Ground, an FA Cup third round replay after a 1-1 draw at Fratton Park with Mickey Quinn the goalscorer.

The replay was to be a disappointment as two late goals from Foley and Shearer broke Pompey`s resistance to the aerial bombardment that Swindon subjected the defence to. A third round replay defeat in the West Country not a bad omen we hope.

30 years ago

We have to go back to the Division Four days and a 1-1 draw with the mighty Rochdale at Fratton Park. The pitch was circled in snow but the game went ahead and thanks to a last minute equaliser by Leigh Barnard, Pompey go to the top of the table.

Super Team?

See what you think of this week’s eleven and try and guess what they have got it common. It is a nice balanced side and most are full internationals. The answer is at the end of the column.

Carlo Cudicini
Gary Neville
Sami Hyypia
Andre Ooijer
Michael Ball
Tomas Rosicky
Nicky Butt
Michael Ballack
Ryan Giggs
Michael Owen
Emile Heskey

Subs
Ross Turnbull
Danny Murphy
John Obi Mikel
Lucas Neill
Sol Campbell
Darius Vassell
Sean Davis

Undersoil heating

Pompey lost yesterdays game with Manchester City because of a frozen pitch despite the efforts of hot air blowers. The temperature dropped to -7ÂșC the night before which is very rare for Portsea Island and the fact that the centre circle had been frozen since midweek meant that the referee Mike Dean probably had not real alternative. The blowers were placed on the sides and ends of the pitch and the centre would have received less warm air.

Other clubs in the Premier League have undersoil heating and the pundits have asked why not Pompey? The problem is of course that it rarely gets that cold and the outlay would have been huge.

The first club to install were Everton back in 1958 when they used a system of electric wires under the Goodison Park pitch. It was not effective however and often led to flooding. It was replaced in 1960 by the now more traditional hot water pipes.

I first can across undersoil heating in the FA Cup replay 4th round at Highbury way back in 1971. Arsenal installed their system in 1964 after the very severe cold spell in 1962/63 when football stopped for three months. They told Pompey that despite the snow the heating would make the pitch playable. The problem was the snow melted and flooded the pitch and referee Johnson had to call the game of an hour before kick off. I was in Arsenal tube station when I heard and we all had to go back again the next week.

Arsenal had fonder memories of the next pitch innovation which came at Leicester City’s Filbert Street. This involved a heated air balloon installed over the pitch and in the winter of 1978/79 this proved a huge success. It was a particularly hard January and games were postponed all over the country except for the few with undersoil heating and Leicester. Arsenal then played three times on the ground, all against Sheffield Wednesday. They came as the 2nd, 3rd and 4th replays on an FA Cup tie which Arsenal eventually came out winners and went on to win the trophy at Wembley.

It also proved a popular spell for fourth division Pompey. The Fratton Park pitch was playable and clubs clamoured to come and play on the famous surface. Within three weeks Birmingham City, Cambridge United, West Brom and Middlebrough all played friendlies and it gave a few fans a chance to see different sides in action. I saw all four!!

So is the investment in undersoil heating worth it? Well three years ago three teams, Bolton, Blackburn and Newcastle, all with the facility had games postponed because heavy snow made the stands dangerous and although the pitches were playable the officials had to bear the safety of spectators in mind and call the games off. Add to that the fact that Pompey have not had a game ‘frozen off’ since 1982.

Some fans travelled a long distance for yesterday’s game and I do not mean City fans. There was the story in the News of the fan who came over from Auckland in New Zealand and I heard of one fan who flew in from Barcelona (where it has been snowing!) and I met another fan who had come all the way from Scotland in vain.

Incidentally had the game gone ahead fans would have been in some discomfort. The frost had caused quite a number of burst pipes in the toilets and the club had had to bring in portaloos in some areas to help!!

Answer to team teaser – at the time of writing they will all be available on a free transfer this summer!

PUP

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