Ah love a bit of deja vu. Please let me know if you read this… I never ever know if you do.
Like Tuesday I rocked up to Guildford to pick up Chiv to travel the length of the country to watch a load of shite. Only this time it was earlier, longer and we had no Wetherspoons breakfast lining our stomachs.
Instead we opted for a shitty service station breakfast where the bastard nearly done me out of a sausage. £6.99 for less than what I paid £4 for in Spoons! I know I know, that’s service station prices but honestly help me out here.
How are you supposed to have a cheap breakfast on an away day when you’re on the road by 0630? Genuine question, please feel free to respond, however don’t you dare utter the word ‘continental’ to me.
Since it wasn’t just me and Chiv in the car the conversation was extremely varied. We picked up two mates from a Harvester just off the M25.
The conversation went from the history of service stations to social media and ended with one of our mates receiving a list of ingredients he was to buy to make a salad since he had left his food at home in the fridge. How hard is it to make a salad?!
It seems he cheated when he entered M&S at the service station and opted for a pre prepared salad, which any normal man would have thought of straight away.
Fans of many different clubs attended the services on the M6. Liverpool, Bristol Rovers, City and even a Blackburn shirt was spotted on route. If I knew then what I knew now I wouldn’t have abused the Blackburn fan.
Since I slate anyone else’s driving when they’re bad I’ll hold my hand up and say I missed our turn off for Blackburn at the end of our journey, that being said however the mistake only added an extra 10 minutes to our journey.
It was the thrilling conversation about the Preston service station being one of the first built in the U.K that distracted my attention. Still, we arrived at Ewood Park slap bang on 1300, I’ve done Hartlepool, Blackpool, Newcastle and Carlisle in my time and still that journey up to Blackburn seemed longer.
Ewood offered a car park directly outside of the away fans stand which slightly improved the mood of us all. Our mood didn’t last long though. As we stepped out the car we knew that whatever layers we had brought, wouldn’t have been enough.
I’ve been in my long johns since August and going forward, I may have to wear two pairs! It was chilly.
At last a decent ground to visit! As we patrolled the outside of the ground looking for beer and what else there was we discovered the ‘Blues Bar’.
Without a moments hesitation the female steward told us to piss off as the bar was for “Home fans only, the fans zone is for away fans”. Hoorah.
In the direction the steward had pointed we wandered longing for the fan zone. Past the club shop which had a fantastic casual clothing range, past the beautiful girl in the parka selling programs (not lying when I say she fancied me) and into the fan zone.
A 50ft TV screen attached to the side of the stadium showing the Chelsea Watford match and a line of marquees over the top of a cabin which sold beer and cider. Honestly it was a football fans dream. Mr Eisner if you’re reading, take note.
I have to praise Chiv, since I didn’t have any cash available as it was my impression we are living in the 21st century and the cabin didn’t accept card, he actually bought me a beer and food once we were inside the ground.
Whilst we were enjoying our dark fruits cider a steward approached us. With the upmost sincerity he asked “Which teams do you support lads?”.
I looked at my mates in their Pompey gear, down at my Pompey coat and up at my Nelson woolly hat. “Who do you think we support?”
It would be unfair of me to put t’s in front of every word he said as he didn’t pronounce any T’s but he certainly had an entertaining Northern accent. “You can’t be here, this is for home fans only”.
We kindly pointed out that this was where the steward from the Blues Bar had pointed us and that we being gentle souls were very unlikely to cause trouble.
Briefly, on the note of trouble it’s worth noting they had mounted Police out by the away end.
We softly advised the gentleman that we would finish our liquid refreshment before slowly f****** off to the away end as we had miraculously killed an hour already.
We walked back past the shop, the gorgeous girl selling programmes who was desperate for me to talk to her, and towards the away stand.
A routine bag check I thought at the turnstiles, however I was wrong. I was questioned whether I had a fire safety certificate for my flag. I can’t describe to you the type of face I pulled at the guy in my stunned silence but I was fully engaged in sarcasm mode.
Once our flag was deemed safe not to burn down half of Lancashire we entered the ground. I even volunteered myself to be frisked this time.
We saw a few old faces we haven’t seen in recent weeks and some new faces too.
As the other lads queued up for more beer we went and hitched up the flag to the tarpaulin. Recently the stewards have joined us in critiquing how straight our flag is on a scale of ‘Straight to Pissed’. This time it was partially pissed.
Toilet Ratings 6.5
As there was no hot water and only two cubicles to crap per men’s loos – of which there were only two once inside the ground!
Once up we wandered back into the queue with the LC1 boys we spotted yet another thing the Eisner’s need to get in at Pompey. A machine that instantly pours 6 pints at a time. It was so efficient and the queues were going down in no time. Admittedly the picture below only shows four but you get the idea.
Maybe it helped that the kiosk only sold pies and hot dogs, no burgers. But these machines are needed at Fratton Park. Something ‘flow’ they were called. I’ll be mentioning to Mr Catlin next time I’m lucky enough to be in his presence.
Another game with unallocated seating meant we sat with the LC1 boys again 3 rows from the back. In fact this time we were in and amongst the noisy bastards crew which was brilliant. We were close enough to be right in the atmosphere but a safe distance that our noses weren’t offended.
The ground was a sight for sore eyes after the shit we’ve seen in recent years and the acoustics were the best for a ground that I’ve heard in maybe over half a decade. The 1,200 Pompey fans sounded like 5,000 and we never stopped singing despite the score line.
Only the 1 change from Tuesday which many wanted and many predicted with Lowe back in for Evans. Unfortunately it made no difference.
Lethargic and lack of desire again showed. Hawkins and Close for me now need to be dropped. Hawkins has lacked effort the past two games and I feel for Closey but Rose is just a much better player.
Blackburn were a good team but we did gift them the majority of their chances. The ironic cheers were back out when we had a few shots late on and who can blame since we’ve travelled over a thousand miles this week to see f*** all chances created.
I’d start Chaplin next week. He’s done enough from the two sub appearances for me to get in over some others. I just hope he doesn’t get complacent again when he’s back in the starting XI.
Since it was a big ground I felt no need to shout and vent any frustration – simply because we were so far away it would have fallen on deaf ears.
Speaking of deaf ears, I know the Rovers fans are boycotting, but there were supposedly what 11k of them? Other than the 12 year olds giving it large in the stand that we were in, I couldn’t hear anything from them.
The only time I heard something was when Burgess was being booed for his involvement in their red card. If Rovers take a leaf out of Jackett’s book and appeal no doubt it’ll be rescinded since kicking players is now allowed in games.
By George don’t we wish he was still out with a three game ban… at least Donohue admitted his mistakes. Onwards and upwards.
After the FT whistle we collected our flag at the front of the away stand which was simply drenched. By now puddles had appeared on the pitch and if it were lashing it down like that in the first half, I’ve no doubt Storm Brian would have got the game called off.
Bit of a relief it wasn’t called off, as I don’t want to do Blackburn away on a Tuesday. A quick dash out the stand, through the car park which had turned into a mini stream, and into the car left us soaked as we then travelled 5 and a bit hours back to the South Coast with nothing but severe dread at the thought that Luton is our next away day…
Keep the Faith.
Play up Pompey!
Photos: Official PFC / Chiv