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Fratton Park
Portsmouth v Southend United
  Tuesday November 26th, 2013, 7.45pm
League Two

John and Stephen Spooner
(Southend United fans)

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

This was our first visit to Fratton Park and a chance to experience the reputed atmosphere. Southend were on a four game winning run and Portsmouth, pre-season promotion favourites had lost five on the bounce leading to their manager Guy Whittingham being sacked the day before this fixture. We expected a tough match.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

As exiled fans living in North Wales it was a five hour, 250 mile journey each way. We travelled down M6 M5 A34 M3 M27 etc.. and despite busy traffic around the ground managed to park easily in the club car park for 5.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

We usually take a picnic and supplemented this with a delicious tray of chips for 2 from the burger outlet in the car park. We took a walk round the ground and took pictures of the iconic main entrance and collected our tickets. The car park stewards and club staff were helpful and friendly.

Main Entrance

Main Entrance Fratton Park

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

The ground is set within a residential area mainly. The black and white main entrance reminds you of olden times in football. There is a narrow passage from the car park to the ticket office which is poorly lit which surprised me given the safety standards these days and not a place I would like to encounter if it was really busy.

The burger vans in the car park are well stocked and the cleanest I have ever seen. The away end was better than I expected, with just enough leg room. A pillar does prevent a perfect view but is better than some other grounds I have visited. The stands, particularly the home one behind the goal are large and high and close to the pitch, which makes for an intimidating feeling.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, facilities etc..

Some Southend fans had been delayed in traffic after an accident and arriving late found that no food was available until half-time. Luckily we had eaten food from car park outlets. The stewards were friendly and allowed some of the away support to stand behind the goal. The toilets were reasonable. A crowd of 13,427, (770 Southend) under floodlights, made for a good atmosphere.

From the away section

View From The Away Section

Portsmouth took the lead after just two minutes with a great run and shot and Southend struggled to control the midfield in the first half. Portsmouth also hit the bar, and had a couple of good chances to increase the lead. Southend sent on substitute Woodrow after an hour but he was almost immediately sent off and despair was setting in as the famous Pompey singing rolled down on us.
10 men Southend then came into the match and scored after 76 minutes and unbelievably took the lead after 81 minutes and held on through five minutes added time to win at Portsmouth for the first time in 95 years!

The Southend fans were not out singing the home crowd once we equalised and were delirious at the end, cheering their hearts out as the team and manager Phil Brown strolled up to acknowledge the travelling fans.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

We were delayed leaving the car park with traffic trying to turn right onto a busy road, so we opted to turn left and let satnav guide us away reasonably quickly.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Results always affect our thoughts of the day and so winning with 10 men at Portsmouth to go into 3rd place ensured it was one of our best ever football trips. Travelling home that far at night does lead to problems with night road works closures at M3/A34 and M40 access at Junction 9, the M42 and M6 and finally even the A55 causing us to travel through Chester!

A trip to Fratton Park has to be highly recommended. It is an old fashioned ground full of atmosphere, with tremendous fan support the envy of many, and we hope they soon start climbing back up the leagues.

On reflection we should have made it a longer stay to visit the sights of Portsmouth, but we have happy memories of the 5th successive win and that will suffice for now.

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