After graduating to the Football League, our first-ever League Cup tie saw us welcome Pompey to the Lamex; us fresh-faced in the Great 92, them tail between their legs after being relegated from the Premier League. In the end, a narrow home defeat saw us out of the competition. But it wouldn’t be long until we met again. And it was again a case of us on the rise and them on the wane; League One pairing us together as equals.
For Pompey, the decline wouldn’t be complete until they crashed into League Two; something we’d also done after our short stay in the third tier. But their fortunes started to reverse and the 2016-7 campaign ended with them winning the League Two title. Unbelievably, we did nothing to contribute towards that success; us doing the league double over them. A couple of cup skirmishes later and Boro’ were back with them in League One.
Pompey are one of those clubs with such a grand back story that it warrants its own Wikipedia entry. For us, that makes it a right pain to condense into a few light-hearted paragraphs. Before the club we know – and possibly love – came to exist, the city’s first footballing odyssey came from Portsmouth Association Football Club. We only mention this because on their books was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, that lad who did the Sherlock Holmes books. A couple of other clubs sprang up – but this one was formed in 1898.
A flurry of non-league success greeted their early years, before a minor hiccup resulted in relegation from the Southern League’s top flight. Timing counts for a lot, however, and Pompey were on point by the time the Football League expanded in 1921. By then, the club had returned to the Southern League’s top flight – and went on to win the title in 1921. Must’ve looked good on the Football League application. So started a long association with the competition that endures to this day.
The 1930s and 1940s were a big time for them. They were champions of England and FA Cup winners in this period. After that, however, their trajectory was a downwards one until the late 1970s. The nadir came in 1978 with relegation to the Fourth Division. Mind you, the stay was a temporary one and the climb back up was soon underway. For the first time since 1959, Portsmouth returned to the top flight in 2003; doing pretty well all things considered and winning another FA Cup.
Fast forward 20 years and the club have again had to resurrect themselves from the basement division of the Football League; settling into a holding pattern in League One. Not that it should be taken for granted, you understand. In 2013, they nearly went under – only to be saved by the supporters.
How to get to Portsmouth – Travel Information – Distance: 119 miles
The trip to the south coast will take a little more than two hours on a good day and is a pretty easy one. From here, go south on the A1(M) and usethe counter-clockwise M25; exiting at Junction 12 for the southbound M3 towards Southampton.
After 53 miles, stay on the main carriageway to merge with the eastbound M27 towards Southampton Airport and Portsmouth. After a further 17 miles, exit onto the M275 – and then leave the motorway for Cross Channel Ferries and North End.
At the roundabout, take the second exit for Kingston Crescent (A2047) and then go right into Kingston Road shortly after. Continue for more than a mile, before taking the first exit at the roundabout for Goldsmith Avenue (A2030). Fratton Park should now be visible.
A large car park that’s behind the Fratton End costs a tenner per car. But it’s opposite the away end. So, it’s a bit of a risk to run the gauntlet. You might, however, get lucky with the local street parking options. Failing that, try Miltoncross School at £5 per car and just a five-minute walk away from the ground.
Services to: LONDON WATERLOO
Fratton is the nearest station to the ground and is a mere 10-minute walk. It appears that there is a footbridge from the station over the tracks to Goldsmith Avenue, which negates the need for a long walk around. From here, it’s straight down past the rail depot, across the entrance to the retail park on the left and then left up Frogmore Road towards the stadium.
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