Date: 5th March 2011 at 8:48pm
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Another home game, another home win and another clean sheet, exciting times then at Fratton Park. Well not really the great entertainment level that was a feature of home games earlier in the season has gone and been replaced by the accumulation of points.

Now which would you the paying punter deserve? Most would want both but then that is greed. Remember the Arsenal team of the seventies and eighties who would score a goal and shut up shop and they won game after game 1-0. Won honours but not too many admirers.

Hermann Hreidarsson was the hero when he bundled in his first goal since December 2009 when he netted against Burnley and he should have added a second shortly afterwards with a diving header after sprinting the length of the pitch to get on the end of a Dave Kitson cross.

So we now have two more games next week, a Tuesday visit to Ashton Gate to meet Bristol City and then back to the Park to take on pre season promotion favourites Middlesbrough. Two more wins is not out of the question but I have the strange feeling that our luck will run dry some time and now we are safe perhaps it would not be a bad time.

History Lesson

It is the anniversary this week of one of the seedier episodes in the history of Portsmouth Football Club. It involved Irish International Jimmy McAlinden and a ‘brown paper parcel’ stuffed with pound notes. Yes that is correct, no sign of any of our recent owners/employees involved!

Jimmy McAlinden, an inside forward, first joined Pompey from Belfast Celtic in December 1938 and made his debut in a 2-1 win over Chelsea at Fratton Park. He scored his first goal for the club in a Christmas draw with Brentford also at home. He went on to become a key member of the side that won the Cup the following April.

However with the outbreak of war in September Jimmy returned to Belfast Celtic, he did however appear for Pompey on three occasions in Wartime league games. When league football began in August 1946 with Blackburn’s visit to Fratton Jimmy was back in the side.

It was not until the summer of 1950 that it was alleged that Jim had received an illegal inducement of £750 paid by two directors in £1 notes. McAlinden and the club always denied this had taken place but an FA Investigating panel fined the club £750 and the player £50 with a three month suspension.

The suspension hit his current club Southend hard as they were aiming for promotion form Division Three South that season (1950/51) and Jimmy was their star player. Amidst the clamour surrounding the affair Jim almost left the Shrimpers but eventually stayed for another three seasons.

So these alleged brown paper parcels are not new then.

Thanks to ‘Southend United the Boom Years 1946 to 1955’ by Peter William Baker for some of the facts. To read more on McAlinden look at Chix’s great autobiography here.

The Missing Years

Pompey have joined forces with the New Theatre Royal to create a play ‘The Missing Years’, celebrating the Blues team that won the FA Cup in 1939.

From the incredible victory in May, through the harrowing war years that followed, this will tell the tale of the city`s players, staff and supporters, re-telling real stories written by local playwrights.

The play will be performed at the New Theatre Royal (20-24 Guildhall Walk, Portsmouth, PO1 2DD) at 7pm on Monday, March 7.

Tickets cost £5 and advance booking is recommended. So to come and celebrate your club and city, call the box office on (023) 9264 9000..

And remember to bring your scarves, flags and banners with you to fill the theatre with blue and white!

Toast adds – Actually the 1939 Cup Final was on 29th April!! Sounds an interesting project but why on a Monday night?

Pitch battle

The ground staff at the club are a little unhappy at the criticism levelled by boss Steve Cotterill at groundsman Phil Frost for the condition of the pitch at half time on Tuesday. They hastily and comically watered sections and the fans were commenting too on how bump it looked.

Frost of course was an award winning groundsman for Somerset CCC at their Taunton HQ and did not welcome the comments.

It is not of course the first time managers and ground staff have fallen. Famously and exclusively revealed here on Vital Pompey manager Ron Tindall asked chairman John Deacon to sack the groundsman back in 1973 after a divot had diverted a Bobby Kerr shot past keeper Ron Tilsed. The man in charge of the fork was none other than Duggie Reid!! The source was Tilsed himself.

Postponed games

Clubs who have games postponed due to bad weather etc have a bit of a dilemma, do they recycle the programmes already printed or design and print a new one?

The latter is of course an expensive option but when you charge £3 as Pompey do you must provide value to the customer. I have been collecting programmes for nearly fifty years – although not recently – and have examples of reused programmes some with an overprinting of dates on the front cover. With Pompey`s current financial plight I was perhaps surprised that they produced a new publication for the Scunthorpe game.

There have been rumours in the past that clubs have flooded their pitch in efforts to have their game postponed because of a strike at the printers!!

On the subject of programmes, there was good news this week when it was announced that Pompey had been awarded Programme Monthly’s 2010/11 award for ‘Best Design` in the npower Championship. Congratulations to all involved.

Charity trip

On Wednesday, April 13, disabled Arsenal supporter Paul Smith will set off in his wheelchair from the home of Portsmouth Football Club, Fratton Park to reach the home of his beloved Arsenal three days later on Saturday, April 16. The sponsored 101-mile challenge is to support the Gunners` Charity of the Season, Centrepoint, as he hopes to raise £25,000 for the national charity which helps homeless young people.

52 year-old Portsmouth resident Paul suffers with brain injury, crush injuries to his hips and chest, as well as long-term damage to his neck and shoulder following a road traffic accident back in 1991. The Arsenal supporter is determined to complete this challenge with a dedicated crew who will help him through the grueling test.

If you’ve been inspired by Paul`s story you can sponsor him and contribute to his fundraising by visiting

Season of fits and starts

Games #8 -14 Leicester to Forest 7 games 19 points

Games #29 – 35 Derby to Sheffield United 7 games 19 points

Other 21 games 12 points !! – and remember we also had back to back away wins in November too. In consistent is not really the word for it.

Next week we celebrate Toast edition 150 with the usual dross and a special history lesson.


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