Date: 13th September 2010 at 8:13pm
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2010/11 season v Ipswich in the league at Fratton, Friday 10th – Monday 13th August 2010.

Due to the international break the Cardiff game seemed an age ago as I prepared myself ready to start my journey on the Friday, the day before the Ipswich game – since that game, in which we were as poor at Fratton as I had seen in some time, we had seen the transfer window slam shut with our captain, Marc Wilson, leaving for Stoke. At least we got Dave Kitson and Liam Lawrence, plus cash, in exchange, or so we thought! The Lawrence deal had hit a ‘snag’ as the paperwork had not gone through on time, but fear not we would get him on loan and whilst it was ‘expected’ it would be ironed out the signs were not pointing towards this being the case in time for him to feature against Ipswich? So, I was not expecting to see him at Fratton when the team came out on the Saturday at 3pm…

Tommy Smith also left; he joined QPR for £1.5m, although like the Lawrence deal there was a cock up so he ended up leaving on loan with the transfer ‘set’ to be tied up in the New Year. Marlon Pack, who was loaned to Cheltenham for the season – I doubt we will see him in a Pompey shirt again to be honest – was another to go with James Hurst given a free transfer back to West Brom, which was where we got him from a couple of years earlier. I was disappointed to see him leave, although I had been told by a few people that he had a bad attitude and the fact he once went onto a social networking site and said he ‘hoped Arsenal stuffed us’ only adds weight to this, so perhaps it is best he did go. Another to leave, although still not officially confirmed as late as Friday night, was Liam O’Brien who joined Eastbourne for a month. Oh how I hope we keep this kid as he will have a bright future ahead of him I am sure.

There was some good news on the Friday afternoon though as regards to players coming in – Kanu and Rocha John Rocha were confirmed as Pompey re-signings as they returned on contracts of 3 and 2-years respectively with both ‘expected’ to be part of the squad to face Ipswich, maybe even as starters something that Kitson would ‘almost certainly’ do, surely…

My journey actually started earlier than usual on the Friday as I had been able to book a cheap ticket on the 17.12 from Ivybridge. This a Plymouth-London Paddington one although this meant changing at Westbury, a station that people that know me well will know I cannot stand, yet spend PLENTY of time at during the season! No matter what time of year, and what the weather is like around the area it is always bloody cold, although I must admit it was not as cold as it can be tonight, then again I had been a bit under the weather so was generally hot anyway. This, the 17.12, which arrived into Westbury at 19.11 where I would then wait for the 20.01 to Portsmouth Harbour, getting off at Fareham at 21.27 to get on the 21.40 to Brighton, which called in at Cosham on the way, was a journey I had done many times and used to make all the time back along but the ‘cheap tickets’ had became less frequent in recent times so it was the 18.01 depart, arriving at Cosham for 23.19 that I had been doing more often than not now.

It was a decent enough journey – and I did have the option of getting an earlier train out of Westbury at 19.40, but this went to Scumhampton Central, where I could wait from 20.48 for the 21.13 although I opted against this for the 20.01, which I could also have got off at Scumhampton on this one too to still make that same connection although again I thought going through the place was bad enough so why get off their if I did not need to eh! 🙂

The remainder of the journey was safely navigated so it meant being in the house by a little before 10.10pm, which was a welcome bonus. Surprisingly my Aunty was still up, as she is normally in bed by the time I arrive. They have, as long as I can remember, gone to bed early but ALWAYS get up at stupid o’clock, we are talking 5am – the usual letting my old mum know I had arrived safely, and of course Trina who was also added to this course of action these days, also happened before I chilled for a while before turning in in preparation for the ‘big game’ the following day…

The weather was not so hot when I got up, in fact it was drizzling with rain, so a far cry from the belter we had when we faced Cardiff a couple of weeks early – then again if we got a result today in all honesty I did not care what the weather was like! Some work for Vital Football had to be sorted out, but it was first things first, a nice cuppa then back to the office to get done what I had to do before I went out, including the ‘on this day in history’ and an article about Dave Kitson on Vital Pompey, I also had to check that Chixy was picking me up so I texted him. He would do this at around 12.40ish.

As the morning and early afternoon went on the weather swung from one extreme to the other, although it was never really cold – around 12.50(ish), having been waiting for a little over 10 minutes I got the phone call from Chixy saying he would be late as Darren, who had moved over the summer, was being picked up but had forgotten to remind him that he had moved so this caused a delay, no dramas though. I got picked up, then we picked up Rob and arrived at our parking spot for about 1.10pm. I nipped in to see Ken and Pam, who were doing Trust business in Smiffys and got talked into buying a Trust badge – another familiar face was Paul, a guy who lives in Plymouth that we came across on the train on FA cup semi final day, I think the others also travelled with him on cup final day. So, I said my hellos, had a bit of a chat with them all and then moved onto The Rutland where Richie and Triv were waiting, along with many others, including Paul (paultsmouth) for the first time this season, although I did not really get the chance to talk to him really. 2.45pm and it was time for us to make our move to our church, so we did – by this time news had broken that Liam Lawrence was eligible and would start, the rest of the team was announced which raised the optimism levels.

Neither side could make the breakthrough on the afternoon though so it ended in a 0-0 draw, despite both sides best efforts in a highly entertaining game. Although all in all I think that a draw was a fair enough result, but I do think this is a good point as Ipswich were having a good season and lets face it we were/still are bottom of the league facing a side that could have gone top with a win! We also doubled our points total, which was a bonus too.

As said it was a good game, and one that I really enjoyed, with plenty of positives from it – Kanu looked good to start with but faded, as was expected. Rocha John Rocha seemed to install some belief in the back four and made us look ‘solid’ and ‘organised’, he clearly led from the back and marshalled the back line fantastically well.

I could not say that I had ‘really’ enjoyed a game for a while, and that is not because we had not been winning, it was the manor in which we were playing so I have to admit it had left me somewhat questioning slightly ‘why’ I bother with all the hundreds of miles I put in, and many hours of time travelling – not forgetting the costs, but if we get more of what we saw on Saturday and less of what we saw against Preston and Cardiff I would be delighted! I do not care if we lose every week, well of course I care, but so long as we give everything and look like a side that DOES want to play for the famous shirt and give everything, as everyone did, what more can any of us ask?

Yep, I went back a happy man and despite my Uncle saying ‘hmmm, not a good result was it’ when I walked through the door, I disagreed and said it was a good point against a good side and also a very good game – once again getting the enjoyment from my football is what I want first and foremost and I most definitely got that and could not get enough of telling people that this had been the case!

My weekend, as always on the home games, continued in Cosham with Louise – my cousin, Steve – her husband and the kids – Imogen and Mason – coming round that evening, the kids were already there when I arrived, with us having a superb chinese that night. With Matt going out, but with me not really fancying it, not to mention being able to afford it with Palace and Sheffield United (away) coming up in the next week, I gave it a miss and just chilled out watching some TV and then the boxing later in the evening, of course spending some time talking to Trina on the phone. Sunday was a real chill out day, although when I had a bit of quiet time I ploughed on and got some of my Vital Football work sorted.

Knowing I had been away all weekend and was away on the Tuesday I of course wanted to get back to Dawlish to see Trina, so the train had already been pre-booked for an early 10.39 Portsmouth – Cardiff one, changing at Westbury and Newton Abbot… This was thrown into chaos with the late running of the train! An announcement was made before Salisbury that all tickets would be valid on a South West Trains train so we could get off there and catch the 12.48 through to Exeter St Davids, where I would then get a train through to Dawlish. A pain of a journey but at least I would get back, eventually – and it was eventually as there were other issues, but hey ho!

Now to do it all again – train journeys and football – on the Tuesday, the plan was too meet Richie, his Palace mate Steve, and Ken at Exeter St Davids and get the 11.40 out to London Paddington, I wonder if that journey would be smoother?

Then again as long as we got there and if we put in a similar performance against Palace at Selhurst as we did Ipswich then I was confident that we would come back from London with ‘at least’ a point…


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