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Fratton Park
Portsmouth
Sunderland
Premier League
Saturday February 23rd
2008, 3pm
 
Kevin McCann
(Neutral fan)

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

I had been looking forward to my trip to Fratton Park for quite a while as I had been heard about the legendary atmosphere created by the Pompey faithful. I also love the old style football grounds that are sadly disappearing rapidly from the beautiful game.

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

The pal I had travelled with had been to Pompey from Brighton before and heíd found that getting out of a nearby car park after the game was a total nightmare and had taken him almost two hours. So this time he had a alternative plan and we parked at the nearby Fareham Train station and took the £3.80 return, 15-20 min train journey to Fratton Station. After that itís only a short walk to the ground.

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

We were in the Away end as my pal is a Sunderland fan and had got me the ticket so we avoided any of the rough looking pubs on the way and headed straight into the ground. There seemed to be plenty of burger vans, a Tesco express and KFC outlets for people to fill their boots with a pre match munch. Being a Scotsman I fancied traditional ďPie and BovrilĒ at the ground. I had been told that the home fans can be pretty intimidating by a Southampton Fan friend of mine but I experienced no problems or bad atmosphere, saying that I wouldnít have fancied being there in a Southampton shirt but then who would?

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

My first impressions were excitement on seeing a classic older style ground. We had a short walk around the ground before we went in. The last few games I have been to were at modern stadiums and it was such a pleasure to see The peeling paint and graffiti that adorn the back alleys around the ground. It even smelt like the grounds I visited as a lad.

The away end is old and pretty dilapidated, but the there was plenty of leg room and a pretty good view of the action. There are some supporting pillars but they donít obscure the view too much. There is a small refreshment outlet and a tiny toilet (more about that later) so my recommendation is to get your pies and toilet visit in before the match kicks off.

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

The game itís self was excruciatingly dull so Iíll keep it brief. I donít think either keeper had to make a save in the first half and it only improved marginally in the second. The game was settled when Defoe slotted in a penalty mid way through the second half and that was that. 1 Ė 0

The Pompey fans do create a great atmosphere banging drums and singing raucously for most of the game, Amazing considering the turgid display their team and Sunderland were producing on the pitch. I can imagine that they raise the roof when they are actually watching an exciting game. The Sunderland fans were a little subdued by their teams poor performance but they managed to raise a smile with renditions of ďour garden shed is bigger than thisĒ referring to the ageing ground.

The Pie I had just before the game was a meaty masterpiece, just the right temperature, crisp pastry with delicious gravy. The Bovril was nice but on the down side, it could have vastly benefited with a little pepper. They donít seem to do that at the English grounds I have visited.

The Toilets were primitive to say the least. I visited them before the game and the floor was already covered in liquid. The urinal was you basically peeing up against a wall with a shallow gutter on the floor collecting what you were expelling and depositing it in a dark smelly hole. The toilets were very small for the amount of fans they were supposed to accommodate. I have it on authority that the ladies were even worse.

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

There is a very long but narrow concourse at the back of the away stand and this did hinder us getting out of the ground quickly but itís all part of the experience. Saying that I wouldnít like to experience any sort of fire as it could be potentially disastrous trying to clear that stand in an emergency. We got out eventually got out of the ground, made the short trip to the Train station, had to wait about 15 mins for a train and the station was pretty crowded but we got through quite easily.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out :

I had a great time at the game, pity about the football but over all I found visiting Fratton park like a pleasant step back in time. With all those similar looking concrete giants modern stadiums rapidly replacing these old grounds I feel glad to have visited this old timer to bask in itís history, crumbling concrete, peeling paint.


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