When i was about 11 or 12 i went to see my first football game at Fratton Park, home of Portsmouth football club. This was back in the late 70s.
Previously i had seen Reading FC play and had the great pleasure in early football fandom days of seeing Bobby Moore play at West ham and even the European Cup between Liverpool and Brugge at Wembley stadium. It was the later that showed me a lot of what being a football fan is all about. Everybody together more like family and friends than strangers. I remember on the way out there was getting to be a bit of a crush. The Liverpool fans were helping younger fans and women to get over the fences to safety. they did not know us from Adam, but it was about being together and helping each other no matter what.
So when i went to Fratton Park i found this again. not only that but to say we were close to the action is somewhat of an understatement. I remember stretching my arm out and being able to just about touch the turf. The singing the atmosphere the whole thing. Including a guy with a bugle even though he could not play it.
John Portsmouth Football Club Westwood. Complete Portsmouth crazy man, but talk to him and you will fine that he is so nice to know. Most children are scared of him, but once they talk with him they like thousands of others just love him so much.
John is like many of us who have seen Pompey through the various divisions and competitions. Also watching in all weathers, from the warmth of a May afternoon, heavy rain and even freezing cold evenings on the terraces watching the Anglo Italian cup wearing more clothes than you believe possible and then wondering how the heck you will go toilet at half time. haha
Fratton Park is an old lady of a football ground and we love her very much, mostly for watching the games, but at times watching people like Madness giving a concert there. Special memories for sure.
Fratton Park back in the day. Like a favourite granny well loved.
Over the 40+ years i have followed Portsmouth there has been several owner ships. some good and some almost a complete disaster. I wont go into details as for some its as interesting as watching paint dry. The problem is that the last private owner almost cost us our club. spiralling debts among other things. We got lucky and were allowed to do a fan based buy out and save the club. Through agreements and hard work the debts have been cleared and this year we gained promotion to division 1. To most not a huge achievement but when you consider that the club was within hours of going out of business this is a pretty big deal for the fans.
A few weeks ago there was talk of someone wanting to buy the club and return it to the glory days. The fear returned! then i heard the name. Michael Eisner. now ok i could not remember where from but i knew the name.
I read on and found out or was reminded that he was a big cheese at Disney and also Paramount studios. OK so both of those are not a football club, but to do what he did the business acumen has to be there.
Over the next few weeks i heard various things. not always easy from several thousand miles away, but still. One of the things i liked is that he had been to a game, but chosen not to sit in the directors box. Have since found out that he has been to 2 more games too.
He likes Portsmouth FC the atmosphere, the history, the smell of the place? and generally everything about it. Even when in the states he follows the games on the club radio. Then tweets about it too.
Whats not to like. I remember when the ticket office was a pub haha
The club are in exclusive talks with Mr Eisner and on what i believe to be May 4th, he will go in front of of a meeting of the supporters trust and some fans too. There he will outline his plan for the club and its future.
In an interview he has said that in the short term he would do the work needed to bring the stadium up to the standard required. this is said to be around about £5 million. He went on to say that in the short term at least he wants to stay at Fratton park and develop that to some degree. Then when things get real good again he will look to a new stadium, but has promised that this should be no more than 15 miles away from Fratton Park.
I say this, So far what i am hearing i like, but i have heard things to a degree like this before, but before the words were meaningless. That is not to say that Mr Eisner’s ideals are meaningless, but I like many others are cautious, but once bitten twice shy.
I wish Michael Eisner luck with his bid and i hope together he will work with the fans to make Pompey the club it once was, but do this without the crippling debt. I hope that he understands the caution of the fans from what has happened in the past and that he shows us that actions will mean a lot to ease the nerves.
Good Luck to Micheal and Portsmouth and the future of our club. May this turn out to be the way to bring us back to the bigger stage and that be good for us all.