.. that difference being that the Saints were on the way up when they visited the Victoria ground. Pompey are heading in the opposite direction. From the heights of the Premier and Wembley to the foot, or nearly, of the third tier with worse possibly to come, Portsmouth present a sorry face. Pete Sixsmith hails the 400 Pompey stalwarts who still travelled north for a midweek game at bottom-placed Hartlepool …
Tuesday night and a glance at the fixture list flags up Hartlepool United v Portsmouth as the game of the evening. Four years ago, Pompey were playing at the Stadium of Light, Old Trafford and, er, the DW Stadium. Now, they are appearing at Gigg Lane, Boundary Park and Broadhall Way, Stevenage. Next year it is likely to be Plainmoor and the Crown Ground, Accrington.
It is a dramatic fall for a club that has connections with Sunderland. Like us, they are an industrial city. Like us, they have a long history. Like us, they have had good and bad seasons. But never one like this.
Relegation to the bottom level would be a blessing for Pompey. If they are not out of administration pdq, they will be expelled from the Football League and will probably end up as far down the pyramid as Darlington 1883.
The Portsmouth Supporters Trust is hoping to buy the club and its astronomical debts and stabilise the situation. The last two owners have been, shall we say, awkward and the Trust looks to be the only player in town.
There is an irony to this as three and a bit years ago, when Pompey were still a Premier League side, local rivals Southampton were at The Vic, having been relegated due to a 10 point deduction.
They won that night with David Connolly scoring twice and began their climb to the Premier League the year after when they sacked one Alan Pardew.
Connolly is now with Portsmouth but was injured for the Pools game. I always enjoyed watching him in the season he had with us. He was a typical lower league predator who could and would score at will. The penalty he smashed home against Burnley in that dramatic game that got us promoted was a fine example of coolness and holding the nerve.
The other SAFC interest was Adam Reed, Hartlepool born and bred and on loan at Fratton Park. He has always looked a decent player in the Reserves/Under 21s but never quite up to first team level.
He has had a couple of loans and has done reasonably well, but returned to Sunderland. This time, his contract is up in June and it will not be renewed.
So, he has to find a new club. Portsmouth are desperately short of players so he would be well and truly in the shop window there. Other Division One and Two clubs would see if he was up to the required standard.
He reached it comfortably on Tuesday. He looked a competent and committed player, with none of the clattering tackles that he tended to put in at Hetton. Playing wide right, he almost set a goal up in the first half and grafted throughout.
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The consensus from my Poolie pals was that he would be well worth a pitch for next season, assuming that he wants to play for his home town club. Wherever he goes, I wish him all the best.
Portsmouth battled away to prevent a tenth successive defeat and deserved the point they took from what was ultimately a disappointing 0-0 draw. They had a very good following – about 400 I would say – which indicates the level of hard core support that they have. If this is their last season, that gallant 400 can be proud of themselves.
Ashington v Shildon on Saturday as we continue to ignore the FA Cup. We were preparing for Manchester City 40 years ago …