This is a recollection from PFCGino on his first experience of football at Fratton Park, and the magic of this.
When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I came to realise that football was a fantastic sport.
Growing up, I never really knew anything of football other than playground rush goalie jumpers for goalposts games because my dad wasn’t really into it all that much. My uncle then told me about Portsmouth FC and how great they were. He was a big fan, and despite not really having a team to support, I decided Pompey would be the team for me. I was instantly hooked, and started really supporting the blues from home, and reading the Evening News whenever I had a chance, expanding my Portsmouth knowledge.
I never had a chance to go to Fratton Park, however on 31 August 1998 when I was 12 that my uncle took me to my first Fratton Park match. The game was Pompey against QPR and I remember it like it was yesterday. I was so excited to be going, and I still have the programme and ticket stub safely stored away!! I remember going to my Nan’s house really early that morning to meet my uncle, I was absolutely busting with excitement!
I remember parking the car (not literally, I was only 12 remember) and my uncle took me the long way round. We could have walked along the side of the South Stand, but instead we walked to the main road, and turned right onto Frogmore Road, so I could see the famous black and white thatched cottage design of Portsmouth FC from far away. I was in awe, not just at finally seeing Fratton Park properly, but also the amount of supporters – this was my first EVER Football match!!
I was sat in the South Stand upper tier, near to the Fratton End. I remember the game as if it was played yesterday. At the time, I had only read about the players, and I had only read awesome things about the man of the time, John Aloisi. To see Aloisi in the flesh was just brilliant, and I couldn’t contain my excitement when he put us one nil up with a peach half-volley. A fantastic goal, and it was probably the happiest moment of my life up until then! The noise, the atmosphere, it was all just amazing. Everyone was singing and chanting, and the ground was only half-full!!
In the second half another of my Pompey favourites scored towards the end, Alan McLoughlin. Martin Phillips then scored his one and only League goal for us in the dying moments (I think it was his first touch too, but my memory is a little Hazy.) I was just too excited to be there and the walk back to the car was a long one – I was HOOKED. I knew immediately I just had to go back – the FA are so selfish, why couldn’t they make Pompey play every day?!
My favourite moment of the day, was the crowd chanting ‘Bally! Give us a wave! Bally, Bally, Give us a wave!’. Watching Alan Ball step from the dugout and give a wave was just heart-warming, and I was just gob smacked that happened. Truly surreal. I was too young to really understand what financial difficulties the club had in and around that time, although I was aware of it, but I like to think that I really couldn’t have had a better start to life as a football fan.
I think I’ll end this article with those immortal words: ‘PLAY UP POMPEY!’
Written by PFCGino in March 2009.
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Others written in this feature so far are as follows, click on them to check them out!
11/05/85, Huddersfield away – paultsmouth … Palace, Venables, Fenwick, Ball – pompeyrug … Milky Magic – paultsmouth