Thursday, 10 April 2008

Portsmouth FC - the final piece of the jigsaw

Well, there we have it. All three of the Football Association's major cup competitions have reached the final stage. Before the weekend, the line-ups for the FA Vase Final and the FA Trophy Final were already decided; Kirkham & Wesham v Lowestoft and Ebbsfleet United v Torquay United respectively. And now we know who will walk out at Wembley on May 17th for the 2007/2008 FA Cup Final - Cardiff City and Portsmouth. The last two teams standing out of 731 teams. In that list of original entrants, Cardiff City were wedged in between Canvey Island and Carlisle United whilst Portsmouth sat snugly alongside Port Vale and Potters Bar Town. I can't quite believe it has come down to the last two and I now have just one last introduction to make. And only the second Premier League team to make an appearance on this run to boot. Welcome to Portsmouth FC...

Happy Birthday. The club was founded in 1898 and it was rather fitting that, when they beat West Bromwich Albion in the semi final on Saturday, they did so on their 110th anniversary. The club was founded by a Mr John Brickwood, a local brewer. Their first league game was a 1-0 victory over Chatham Town in September 1899. Three days later they played their first game at Fratton Park. Their opponents? Local rivals Southampton

The FA Cup. What an FA Cup season for Portsmouth. Having knocked out Ipswich Town, Plymouth Argyle, Preston North End, Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion, Portsmouth will make an FA Cup Final appearance for the first time in sixty nine years. They were runners-up in 1929 and 1934 (losing to Bolton Wanderers and Manchester City respectively) before they went on to lift the trophy in 1939 with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers. With the onset of the Second World War, the next FA Cup final following Pompey's success was played seven years later. Portsmouth are therefore officially the longest holders of the cup in the competition's history.

Home Sweet Home. Fratton Park has been Portsmouth's only home since the club was formed. The stadium's official capacity is 20,688 and the club have plans to build a new 36,000 seater stadium close to Portsmouth Naval Base, although planning permission has yet to be approved. The record attendance at Fratton Park (famous for it's mock Tudor entrance to one of the stands) was in an FA Cup game back in 1949 when Derby County visited in front of 51,285. And did you know that Portsmouth are the only professional English side to be located off the British mainland? I didn't.

Play up Pompey! The famous song on the terraces at Fratton Park, The Pompey Chimes, dates back to the Royal Artillery team in Portsmouth in the 1890s. The military outfit used to play on a ground close to the city's Guildhall clock, which chimed every quarter of an hour to the tune of "The Westminster Chimes". The supporters of the team would sing in unison with the chimes. When the Royal Artillery team folded the supporters shifted allegiance to the newly formed Portsmouth FC and brought the song with them.

Players. Portsmouth currently boast the likes of Sol Campbell, David James, Jermain Defoe and Kanu amongst their playing staff. Notable others in Portsmouth's past include Alan Knight, Noel Blake, Mark Hateley, Neil Webb, Darren Anderton, Paul Walsh and Peter Crouch. Portsmouth paid Udinese a club record fee of £7.1 million for Sulley Muntari in May 2007, although some believe that Defoe's undisclosed fee in January of this year exceeds that. Muntari chose Portsmouth in favour of AC Milan, Juventus and Inter Milan.

Gaffers. The current manager Harry Redknapp will be making his first ever appearance at Wembley. This is his second spell at the club, having famously left after more than two and a half years in charge when he joined huge rivals Southampton in November 2004. Redknapp rejoined Pompey in December 2005. Other famous managers at Portsmouth include Jack Tinn, Ian St. John, Alan Ball (twice), Jim Smith and Steve Claridge. Harry Redknapp, by the way, is reputedly an Arsenal fan.

Silverware. In addition to the FA Cup, Portsmouth also won the top Football League division in 1949 and 1950, League Division One (2003), League Division Two (1927 and 1987) and League Division Three (1962 and 1983). They also won that well known Barclays Asia Trophy in 2007 after beating Liverpool on penalties in the final. Remember that? No, neither do I. Portsmouth also took part in the game that holds the highest scoring record in the Premiership - on 29 September 2007 they beat Reading 7-4, the day I went to a game that ended 0-0.

Ownership. The current club owner is Alexandre Gaydamak. He is French. And Russian. And Israeli. His father (Arcadi Gaydamak) owns the Israeli outfit Beitar Jeruusalem. Initially co-owner of the club with Milan Mandaric, Gaydamak become sole owner in July 2006. Mandaric of course later took over at Leicester City. Gaydamark also owns the football club Belvia Sarl. You've never heard of them? They are based in Luxembourg. And they are not even big over there.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. A work colleague of mine visited Portsmouth recently to go up the Spinnaker Tower. The official Portsmouth tourist brochure for the city gives Portsmouth FC a mention, saying that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the club's first goalkeeper. This is not strictly true although it is widely reported to be the case. Under the pseudonym AC Smith he played in goal for Portsmouth AFC, a team that has no connection with the current Portsmouth FC. Elementary my dear Watson.

So Portsmouth will be playing Cardiff City at Wembley in May, a team from Southsea up against a team from South Wales. One more game to determine who will raise that famous trophy; will it be one more game for me to take me to sixteen in total? I have just about everything crossed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lol! Belvia s.a.r.l is a private company...not a football team.

JL, Luxembourg, Luxembourg