When I discussed the possibility of coming out of retirement and writing again for PompeyNewsNow, I scanned the various articles being written regarding Pompey, and the large majority are about the here and now.
Don’t get me wrong, the current push for promotion is exciting especially as it is still a 5 horse race, but at 47 years old, I’ve seen a few promotion pushes in my time. (Not many I grant you).
However, for me, the best times and the best stories, came out of some of the most mundane of matches. So with this in mind, I give you a new series of rambling stories and anecdotes, drawn from my time following Pompey throughout England, Europe and the Isle of Wight. Some of these stories will involve recurring friends and additionally my recurring sense of stupidity, but all are the funniest times of my life.
One of the best places to start is Kingston Upon Hull and 13th April 1991, a journey in a tan Mk 2 Escort that should have taken 12 hours but ended up being nearly 24 hours long and included a game of football in a field on the side of the M1.
My best mate through much of the early 90’s was Dean Johns. From 1990 we were inseparable and with him not having a driving licence, I was invariably the designated driver. Some of you might know Dean. Throughout the Premier League years, he was Sky Sports Fanzone guy for Pompey.
He had a curtain haircut and was a good striker in his days, and boy could he talk for England. He’s not changed to be honest, and we still chat and I can see his seat from mine at Fratton. He’ll be a common denominator in a lot of my stories, as more often than not, he was there.
Anyway, I digress. I had not long bought the Mk 2 Escort out of compensation money for an accident I had in a Vauxhall Chevette the previous year. A lady driver had ploughed into the back of me in Fareham, and unsurprisingly wrote off my first car.
I was devastated at the time, but the money for the car allowed me to step into the beauty that was basically an Orange car. At that point, I was 19 and thought I was the dogs. I was of course a spotty, lanky teenager with acne driving an orange car.
For some reason we thought Hull away would be the best place to take the “Orange Beauty” or OB as it shall now be addressed, on its first long road trip, and to say the 271 miles to Boothferry Park were uneventful would be an understatement.
Actually that’s a lie. 269 were uneventful, as for some reason a couple of miles from the ground, I thought it would be a clever idea to bunny hop the OB the last couple of miles. Cars with chokes (remember those?) don’t like being bunny hopped, as according to the AA man we met on two occasions later in the day, it drags all of the rubbish in the engine into the pistons. It seemed to be the done thing in Boyz In The Hood, but not for the Boyz from Hampshire.
At this point the car started spluttering and wouldn’t drive over 20 miles an hour for the last 2 miles to the Hull ground, however, we parked, and off we went. As I recall we won that day. (You see, results are largely unimportant in the day to day efforts of being a Pompey fan)
Upon leaving the game, the OB decided that 20 was the maximum. Briefly we got to 28 downhill, but upon hitting the M18, we were basically a shopping trolley containing Dean, myself and two others facing a 291 mile journey in a car that wouldn’t go above 20 MPH. (That’s essentially a 19-hour return journey for those without calculators).
However, worse was to come, as we joined the M1, the car decided to stop altogether. We called the AA, because all sensible 19-year-olds had AA cover on Mk 2 escorts don’t you know! The Automobile Association lady told us it would be a minimum one hour wait.
At this point, and for some unknown reason, we decided to get a football out of the car and jumped into a nearby field and played headers and volleys for 60 minutes with cars speeding past, putting a metaphorical two fingers up at me and my bunny hopping escapades of earlier.
Eventually the AA man arrived, furnished us with the splendid news that the engine would need to be flushed, but he could make a botch job to get us home.
Safe to say we saw the same AA man again 100 miles later when the car completely conked out, and this time he didn’t even both wasting his time, he added the OB to the back of his vehicle and took us home.
We arrived home around 3am the following day, and it’s safe to say that playing football on the M1 passed into our folklore for many days to come.
Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the OB. She was scrapped after “inadvertently” one of the pistons blew on the engine. To this day my dad has no idea how that happened and definitely has never heard the phrase “bunny hop”.
So there ends my first attempt at writing a story again for the first time in years. Hope you liked it.
Til next time my friends, where I’ll likely regale you with the time I was trod on by a horse in Huddersfield. PUP