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Fratton Park
Swansea City
FA Cup 4th Round
Saturday January 24th
 2009, 3pm
Lee Jones
(Swansea City fan)

I have always been fond of Pompey because of their time warp like existence. “Play up Pompey” just sounds straight out of post-war Britain together with the guy dressed in a sailor suit and the Play up Pompey sign. The Pompey John character with his dreadlocks and tattoo’s seems unique in this day and age, but that bell!!

The ticket allocation had been 3,144 for the Swans and there had been a bit of a mess in selling them by Swansea. At first they went on general sale and after a storm of protests by Season Ticket holders, they were then ST first but they could get 4 each leaving many regular away followers without tickets and not happy. The tickets had been sold out within 2 days. The pricing was very good with under 16’s only £5, students £15 and £24 for adults.

Pompey then advertised on many Swans fans forums that they had hospitality tickets for sale for £75-£99 each. This attracted a lot of exile Swans living in the Hants area.

I decided to drive down as there were a few of us travelling together and it would be cheaper than the official coach. I left my home at about 9.30 and we had a straightforward run along the M4 to J13 and down the A34 following the Sat nav into the ground. I had been told there was plenty of off street parking but before I knew it we were outside the ground and there was a car wash site which offered match parking for £5. This was on Milton Road and is virtually directly behind the away stand. I wanted to try and get away quickly as we had been forewarned of the M4 closing near Swindon at 7pm for repairs to a bridge.

I had read on this website that The Good Companion pub on Eastern Road was a friendly pub for away fans. We had passed it on our way in and it was full of Swans fans with a sizeable police presence there. We decided to chance it for a bite to eat as I had read a few mixed reviews. The atmosphere was ok with a mixed fan base and a mixture of families and away day groups of men but I didn’t notice any of the Smurfs so I assume they are not season ticket holders.

It was good to have a chat with a few of the Pompey fans in there, in view of the recent loss of Harry Redknap, Jermaine Defore and Diarra. I was more than a little worried by the likely introduction of Jermaine Pennant who had been signed that week.

The food was ok, the service was friendly if a little chaotic; the landlord had decided to employ about 4 staff over at least 2 bars. There were large queues for beer and food but it eventually sorted itself out until the rush for the toilets which resulted in even longer queues due to only 1 mens for the entire pub!!! Get in there early is my advice.

We made our way to the ground at about 2.15 as it was only a 5 minute stroll from the pub the entrance to the away stand which is called the Apollo Stand is down a lane at the rear of a terraced street. The area was immediately remarked upon by all of us present as a throwback to the 70’s and was a bit like the Vetch in the way it was threaded through the streets.

The outside of the stand was decorated with a lurid blue mural. I couldn’t really make out what it was about as it was graffiti like spray can design. I asked one of the stewards what it represented he replied “No idea done by kids.” We were in for a shock at the turnstiles which were very high tech with the tickets read through a bar code reader. Those who had enjoyed themselves at The Good Companion were left totally bemused trying to push the tickets in here there and everywhere!

We were seated in block P directly behind the goal. I was in row K seat 74 it was ok but as the game went on I realised my 6,2” frame resulted in my view of the game being blocked by the crossbar. The stand is obviously a relic from the days of terracing and I was glad that the stewards left us stand as there is no way I could have sat with very little leg room.

The Jack Army were in good voice and I suppose many of us were quietly confident of a FA Cup shock. The Portsmouth fans were a little subdued and had a villain to help them as we had Nathan Dyer playing on loan for us from Southampton. He is also somewhat notorious for a “nightclub incident” picked up by the tabloids. Cue booing.

Just before the game started it was obvious that the Swans fans on the hospitality tickets were all housed in the Upper South Stand up to our left. They were all mixed in with the home fans which seemed a bit of a strange thing to do. The inevitable happened and Dyer scored a cracker having been set through by Jason Scotland. This resulted in joy for the Jack army and despondency for the home fans.

It also resulted in the Jacks in hospitality being evicted and placed at the back of our stand for their own safety after a little disorder. I thought this was a poor reflection on Pompey and its fans. Most of those on hospitality were families and older fans. They were unlikely to be kicking off and Pompey were happy to sell them tickets off Swans forums. To be fair by all accounts Pompey made them all happier by the end of the day with alternative tickets for a premiership game and some freebies.

We had our on loan goalie Dimi Konstompilopulis I was somewhat nervy as our regular Dorus Devries had been on a good run, but Dimi played a stormer and although Pompey had a few chances through Crouch and Pennant, Dimi saved everything with ease.

Just as we were thinking we could sneak this, Jordi Gomez was brought down in the box (or outside if you are a Pompey fan). Up stood our goal machine aka as Jason Scotland against Englands No 1.  An excellently taken penalty by Jason, and 2-0 to the Swans. There were a few grumblings from the home fans at this time and some serious banter aimed at Tony Adams.

Half time came and we were all in a good mood not even the toilets or “canteens” could bring us down.

Second half started with more of the same but a bit more even with Pompey throwing everything at us but to no end result. The game carried on n the same fashion and despite a couple of chances from both sides ended 0-2 to the Swans.

The journey from the car park was slow and it was pretty close to 30 mins to get out. We decided to avoid the M4 and went cross country to Bath and again got home after about 3hrs. Great day out and enjoyed our giant killing act having been a victim for the last 2 seasons.

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