PORTSMOUTH Football club. What do you think when you see that name? Some may see the name as failure, an embarrassment to football, a club that should have died out like the Dodo.
For me I see a Phoenix that has risen from the ashes. A club galvanised by its supporters and brought together by the local community. Some of which have dedicated all of their time, sweat blood and faced legal proceedings to grant the dreams of the many supporters across the globe. A dream that has finally been realised thanks to everybody involved, no matter how small the contribution.
On Sunday 14th July 2013 it was announced that PFC have broken the 10,000 mark for season ticket holders. As of midnight Saturday the figure was 10,114. That is truly remarkable for a club that a little over 3 months ago were on the brink of liquidation. Even more so when you look at the average attendance of Bradford City, who were promoted from League two last term, was 10,332. Bradford’s highest attendance during 2012/13 was 13,461. Pompey has nearly matched Bradford’s average attendance with season tickets alone.
Portsmouth’s average attendance in a division higher, who were struggling at the bottom of the division and with an uncertain future, was 12,232. The second largest in the division.
Incidentally Pompey’s biggest attendance of the season was the day after the Portsmouth Supporters Trust had taken control of the club. 18,433 turned out on a beautifully blue and sunny Saturday afternoon to watch Portsmouth beat Sheffield United 3-0. There was an electric atmosphere that day. A real feel of freedom and optimism for the future filled the stadium. Inflatable animals and beach balls where bouncing around in the Fratton End as the supporters sung “we’re Portsmouth City, we own our own club.” Grown men were seen crying with relief that their beloved club was now in the hands of the fans and safe from extinction.
It has not been an easy journey for anyone connected to the club to get to where they are now. There have been plenty of lows. Two administrations in two years and the club was also deducted a total of 29 points in three different divisions. This ultimately led to relegation from the Premier League down to League 2. Let’s not forget the winding up orders issued by HMRC and the £58 million pounds of debt that hung around her neck, threatening to end the very existence of this great football club.
Thankfully due the hard work and the never say die attitude of a few Pompey fans times have changed, and now there are the highs. Gone are the fears of destruction that have been looming over this great club since February 2010. A new dawn has begun for everyone that loves Portsmouth Football Club.
The season ticket sales, a planned development with Tesco that will inject cash into the club for renovations to the aging stands, to include improved disabled facilities, have given a huge boost to everyone at the club. There is also the new squad of players that have arrived over the summer. I am confident that this group of players will give their all for the star and crescent moon every time they pull on that blue shirt. We shouldn’t forget that many of these new players turned down offers from other clubs. They could have easily gone to these clubs for more money than Pompey could afford. They didn’t. This group of footballers came to Fratton Park for the fans and each one of them could see that at Portsmouth Football Club something very special was happening.
Fans of Portsmouth are widely regarded as the best in the land and once again they haven’t disappointed anyone with the season ticket sales. The support has always been unwavering amongst the Fratton faithful through the good times and most recently the bad.
Ronaldinho came to Portsmouth with his AC Milan team in 2008 for a UEFA cup match. He was apparently quoted to say Fratton Park had “The best atmosphere in world football.” This is not hard to believe given that I remember Thierry Henry once pulled on a Pompey shirt in front of the Fratton Park crowd to honour the outstanding support they gave the home team, even though they were losing 5-1. Henry was quoted to say “I know of no other club where, despite being 5-1 down in our FA cup sixth round match, the home fans would have been supporting their team so vocally.”
Portsmouth FC has also just been named as joint top club with Newcastle United for having the best fans in the country. Not bad for a “tin pot club” is it?
Everybody involved with Pompey should be proud of what has been achieved by them in only a few months. They can once again hold their heads high. Be it the supporter living on the other side of the world that has bought a 12th man limited edition badge, that has bought a trust share or the fans that run this magical club on a day to day basis.
Since administration first arrived every single Pompey fan has believed that a miracle could happen. It did. Sunday, like the 19th April 2013 did, has proved to the world yet again that this club is very much loved and will once again be a huge success, banishing the sour memories of the past.