It has been a forlorn few years for Portsmouth fans. From riding high in the Premier League, winning the FA Cup, playing in European competition including just failing to beat Italian AC Milan to years of several different owners, administration, a drop down the divisions as swift as the short-shift I get when approaching a member of the opposite sex. I think it is fair to say that it has been a bad few years for the grand old club and for the fans who have been with them through thick and thin.
However here we are. At this time next week they will start their 2013/2014 campaign with a spring in their step. The club has finally been taken over by the Portsmouth Supporters Trust. It has been a long and very hard road, one that if I’m being totally honest I didn’t think was possible. Happily I was wrong, oh so very wrong and they pulled it off. The merry-go-round of shall we call them ‘interesting’ characters that have been involved with owning – or wanting to own – the club has ended and people are in charge who I firmly believe have the clubs best interests at heart.
With over 10,000 Season Tickets already sold for this season and word today that the opening fixture will be a sell-out is extremely encouraging news. The fans who were a bit like me and fed up of the previous regimes and giving them money are flocking back. The club never leaves you and even if you stop loving them you don’t ever stop caring. Now that care is once again turning back into love. I have followed the transfer moves in the club far more than I have in years despite the fact the club are in the bottom tier of the league.
However it isn’t just the on-field product that a large proportion of Pompey fans care about. They want to see the club at the heart of the community. They want answers to questions and for the first time in my lifetime as a fan I feel as though the communication between the club and the fans is a very healthy one. The playing budget was slightly increased in the past week and some fans were worried about whether or not we could afford it but Chief Executive Mark Catlin came out in the local newspaper and explained the situation fully. It has allayed many fans fears. This is what we want and happily the club seem to be very much on the right path now.
Sadly due to geography I’m unable to be a Season Ticket holder. If I still lived even say in the SW Trains region I would probably have returned this season. However I’m not totally down with four hours each way on the trains for each home match and also I have other football commitments regarding radio commentary. Hopefully when Pompey come to Roots Hall on New Years Day I’ll be behind the microphone calling that game but if Pompey could draw Southend away in one of the cup competitions I wouldn’t exactly be complaining.
Back to Pompey and even looking at the manager – Guy Whittingham is a guy I like and respect and can fully get behind as manager and leader of my club. No offence to any other manager since possibly Alan Ball but whilst some have done great things for the club, I never felt they truly loved the club. The Corporal I feel does. He signed a player from non-league Burnham Town the other day and said that he reminded him of himself when he first came to Pompey. Suddenly Ryan Bird is a player I’m rooting for hard and hoping he can move from non-league goalscoring dynamo to league two star.
Pompey are the betting favourites for the League Two title and whilst I think that maybe optimistic considering we have a small squad and an average playing budget, it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. Whatever happens there is a lot of optimism both on and off the playing field at Fratton Park and I would like to put on record my thanks to all the people behind and involved with the Portsmouth Supporters Trust for making me love my club once again. The 2013/2014 season could be a lot of fun but even if we don’t win promotion we know that everyone involved is moving in the same direction and it is the first time we can say that for many a year.
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