Following “Pompey” must be a rollercoaster ride. A team once picking up silverware in the Premier League is now in the lower echelons of English football. We went to historic Fratton Park to see a club on its way back from the wilderness.
“When Sol went up to lift the FA Cup, we were there,” goes the chant. Pompey fans are singing about their 2008 triumph. It was a time when the club was in the ascendency, with Harry Redknapp at the helm and a host of international stars; Sol Campbell, Kanu, David James, Glen Johnson, Lassana Diarra, Niko Kranjčar, Suli Munari and others.
It appeared that the club were an established Premier League side, but financial issues came to light in the 2009-10 season and the club failed to pay players, faced a winding up order and incurred a nine-point penalty from the Premier League. This sealed relegation and the club free fell three divisions, landing in fourth-tier League Two for the 2013-14 season after horrendous mismanagement.
However, the club was saved from extinction by the Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust, a fan-led initiative, and the shoots of recovery are there.
When I went along there was a promotion party: Pompey had secured an automation place to return to League One, and Fratton Park was buzzing. Portsmouth are on their way back up.
Fratton Park is a proper old school English football ground, like an iron barn tucked in between rows of redbrick terraced housing. It’s been the club’s home since its inception in 1898, and can hold 21,000 fans. For such a big city with a loyal following, Fratton Park is often close to capacity even in its current below-par position. The atmosphere can get pretty intense, and a rendition of “play up Pompey” is one of English football’s most famous fan chants.
I paid £20 to sit at the Milton End, behind the goal and next to the away section, and you can buy Portsmouth FC tickets online and print at home.
Fan ownership will only get Pompey so far, but it’s great to see the club in charge of its own destiny once more and I wish them well.
How to get to Fratton Park, Portsmouth
Fratton Park train station is just a few hundred metres from the stadium.