The tears have run dry, the tickertape has blown away and it is time for a reflection on the events of the day Pompey waved farewell to the big time.
I travelled with Gandor and tracyc and other halves in our ‘stretched limo’ to London setting off early to avoid the traffic.
On arriving at Wembley we headed straight for a drink only to find hundreds of fans already there imbibing. Apparently you need to have to sink a few to enable you to sing for hours on end.
For the first time in many years Community singing, an FA cup tradition for many years was restored but not inside the stadium but in a Pub called the Torch. The man leading the singing however did not follow true tradition by standing on a wooden platform dressed in a white coat or suit. He was dressed in a white Pompey shirt with 12 Chix on the back. Come to think of it he did not look like the famous Arthur Caiger either. However it was good to see the tradition, first introduced in 1927, return. Can we have proper song sheets printed next time though!
Rug, Chix and I were pleased to see so many Vital Pompey members there and apologise if we did not get much time to chat. Rug in particular had tickets to pass on and elusive debtors to chase. I spotted Jason, UKTony Ninjatim, Gandor, tracyc, frippy, sea-juicer, Lemmi, sneakay, pompeyyong and I have no doubt others in my time at the pub. Unfortunately paultsmouth was unable to get in as the gates were shut!
The walk down Wembley Way is now so familiar that it did now seem worth taking photos but I did run into a few faces I had not seen for years.
The game, with the woodwork sponsored by Wickes, seemed to be over so quickly but I think I remember it more than the previous final, it was certainly a much better game. The efforts of the entire Pompey side will be long remembered by every fan honoured to be there.
Missed Wembley penalties are a rarity, well they used to be anyway!! At the end the team sank to their knees many of them in tears but the fans soon picked them up and a half a lap of honour followed along with presentation of the losers medals. Uncle Avram getting a special cheer similar to that reserved for Linvoy two years ago.
The team will now inevitably break up but those players wherever they play in the remainder of their careers will never play in front of fans like that again. To those who do move on – thanks for the memories and giving the club pack its pride.
It is because of that pride and the fact the team will be broken up that led to that river of tears not the fact that we lost and certainly not because Prince missed that penalty. Pompey fans do not blame one man they support their whole team.
The task of being a passionate Pompey fan is certainly tiring work it must be easier to support a team where you just watch and eat your Prawn sandwiches. When I got back to my local at 11:00 that evening I was greeted ‘you look shattered`.
It was certainly an emotional day for all concerned and with many in tears but then as they say Wembley is not the place for losers and we were bound to find that out eventually. We also conceded our first goal at the National Stadium after some seven hours and 29 minutes of play quite a record. We were also beaten by an English club for the first time in 1204 days in the FA Cup!! That may be a record only beaten by the 1939 winners!
Pride and passion
Some of my favourite quotes after the game came from – Avram Grant who said: ‘The Portsmouth fans are the best in the world. They are absolutely amazing and they have shown once again why they are the best.
Then there was a chance meeting with Colin Farmery who excitedly told me ‘that was one of the most eventful and greatest game I have ever seen.`
Ricardo Rocha said ‘It was a big thing for everyone because we wanted it so badly. We wanted to give that cup to the fans because they`ve been so amazing throughout the season, but unfortunately we just couldn’t do it in the end.’ His views were echoed by others in the side.
Finally Chix was reported to have said ‘I’m off for another pint!!’
Hampshire’s other team
Of course I am talking about Aldershot were in action as the Final finished in their League Two play off semi-final with Rotherham. If you missed it they lost at the Rec to a late Adam Le Fondre goal and will have their work cut out to reach the final at Wembley. Would be nice if all three Hampshire clubs could appear at Wembley in the same season, two of them in games that count. Fingers crossed for the Shots on Wednesday.
And talking of Wembley on Sunday our old adversaries Oxford United won the Conference play off and are back in League football after a four year absence. They were originally given entry to the league back in 1962 when Accrington Stanley folded.
Great links between Pompey and U`s go back over the years, we played our first Division One game there in 1987, Jim Smith managed them three times etc etc.
Well that is the end of another season for Toast. It has been a roller-coaster of a ride and now we wait for what happens next. Will Avram stay? Will the side be just journeyman Championship players next season? Will we even survive? Whatever you will hear it all on Vital Pompey.
As for Toast our old friend Al Fresco will be back soon with the Summer editions including a detailed look at our Premier League stats care of Pompeyrama. Phil who runs our sister site came over for the final so we have to wait until he gets home for him to provide the information.
Me? I’m off to write a series of articles on Vital England including ‘Memories of 1966’ – yes I was there, not all the games but read then and find out. Remember your Vital Pompey membership gives you access to Vital England. Rug, who also runs the national site will no doubt spend a fair amount of time plugging it.