The postponement of the game at Scunthorpe was definitely a blessing in disguise. We have no squad and it is quite useful that it coincides with the bad weather. The Pools`s Panel (more about them later) gave us a 0-0 draw not something that I would agree with.
The recent bad weather has now led to three cancellations and the Notts County visit to Fratton Park has now been rearranged for Tuesday, January 29 (7.45pm kick-off). Three home games in eight days then!
News is that Pompey will add Sam Sodje to their squad next week after impressing boss Guy during training. Another free agent Sodje has a presence but at thirty three is he past his best? A loan move for Sunderland midfielder Adam Reed seems likely too.
Big Freeze plus fifty
Toast looks back fifty years to the worst winter on record 1962/63. Pompey had won Division Three the previous season and were settling into Second Division life mainly due the goals of Ron Saunders.
The snow started on Boxing Day 1962 and was to paralyse sport across the country for the best part of three months. I had just discovered that Pompey had slumped to a 4-2 defeat at Preston, when the snow began to fall over the City. Such was the severity of the ensuing winter that Pompey would not play again away from the south coast again until 7th March – a gap of ten weeks.
Clubs tried everything to get their pitches fit and frost free but mostly to no avail. Everton had installed undersoil heating in 1958 but others had been slow to follow their example. Most had to make do with crude covering system and then asking fans to turn up with shovels on the morning of the game to clear the pitch with a promise of hot Bovril and a ticket for the game (if it was played). Clubs tried tar burners, flame throwers even pneumatic drills! Halifax gave up and turned the pitch into skating rink!
The FA Cup third round took nine weeks to complete and there were 261 postponements – one tie being called off 14 times – Lincoln v Coventry – the winners were drawn to play Pompey in round four. The decimation of the fixture list had one major problem – the football pools. No games meant coupons were void and money had to be returned and was seen as a national disaster. The Pools also were a useful source of income for the game.
So with the sea freezing, Scousers skating on the Mersey and the nation grinding to a halt the Pools Panel was set up to decide results. The body first met on 26 January 1963 and consisted of ex players George Young, Ted Drake, Tommy Lawton and Tom Finney with ex referee Arthur Ellis. The group was chaired by Tory back-bencher Gerald Nabarro an extroverted character known for his large moustaches and personalised number plates (NAB1). Pompey missed out on that assessment as their FA Cup third round tie went ahead at Fratton Park with Scunthorpe the visitors. The last result you want in those circumstances is a draw and of course it ended 1-1 with Johnny Gordon scoring the Pompey goal – the only game the club would play in January.
Only one game would survive in February too and that was a home game with Luton Town. Ron Saunders, Albert McCann and Gordon netting in a 3-1 win. March eventually saw the weather ease and normality returned = but Pompey lost nine games in a row, slipping lose to trouble before they arrested the slide. The backlog also meant Pompey had to play six games in May and the latest finish to any season on 31st May at Chelsea.
During that spell clubs were desperate to play anywhere at anytime and Spurs then Cup holders asked Pompey for a friendly at Fratton Park. The groundstaff came up with a novel way of keeping the frost out of the pitch which involved covering the surface in peat! That worked well until someone opened the gates in the south west corner of the ground and the wind blew the peat down Frogmore Road!! The game then fell victim to the frost.
Eurovision meets Fratton
By popular request, Pompey supporters have been given a special monthly social night aimed at creating new songs.
Everyone interested in helping improve the range and quality of the famous Fratton End choir should make a bee-line for the Victory Bar at Fratton Park at 8pm on Thursday, January 24 (doors open at 7pm).
To make the occasion go with a swing, fans are being offered a great deal on drinks, with a pint of beer or a glass of house wine for £2.80 and tea, coffee and soft drinks just £1.
A comedian will be on hand to break the ice and all song ideas are welcome.
A Pompey spokesman said: “Our best atmosphere is the best in world football, but we don`t want to take anything for granted.
“We want to give our fans the chance to enjoy a really good social evening every month and a forum to create some good new songs.”
For all enquiries, please contact Johnny Moore on (023) 9273 1204.
If Chix was based in Pompey no doubt he would be there with an input of David Kemp songs etc.