An Open Letter To Portsmouth FC

On Friday night, with my regular driver Sean out of commission for the weekend I made the decision to travel to Portsmouth for our game the next day. Having missed the FA Cup tie earlier in the season I didn’t want to miss a second opportunity to visit Fratton Park.

So off I went to ticket booking website to sort things out. I was faced with a nine hour roundtrip, that would leave me by the end of the day needing two buses, five trains and one tube connection. And all for the affordable rate of a few pennies shy of £90. The price didn’t put me off in the slightest – all worth it as far I’m concerned.

Tickets booked, fast forward to later in the evening and there are the first whispers that all might not be well with the weather as Josh posts on Facebook the weather forecast. By the morning though, little else has been said about the conditions – aside from a tweet from Portmouth a little later which would say no inspection was planned. Déjà vu, we ourselves have been here plenty of times before.

Head firmly (and admittedly) buried in the sand though, it’s not until the club kitman Steve Cross tweeted just before noon that things appeared to get serious. His tweet that an inspection was planned for in five minutes time (later confirmed as 12.30) gets the alarm bells ringing. But somehow, the pitch is playable – but there will be a second inspection in half an hour’s time. Basically – the match official was stalling for time for whatever reason. Any Notts fans making the trip were already long en route to Fratton by this point. Some had even arrived.

Of course, the second inspection would render the surface waterlogged. By this point I’m already on train number three so the decision makes little or no difference by this point – I’m all in, and looking to make the most of a bad situation. Obviously this is going to involve alcohol at as close a drinking establishment as I can make it to. And preferably without drowning or getting washed away – such was the ferocity of the rain lashing it down by the time I get off my train at Fratton.

I make a beeline for Wetherspoons where Jacob tells me there’s a Strongbow waiting. It’s not a bad start to our attempt at salvaging the day! Some Jaegerbombs, Sambuca, Strongbow…and a bottle of straw-syphoned wine later and spirits are certainly high. A few altercations with a mardy table of Portsmouth fans (who feel free to take shots at Notts at will) later and the day is a success on every conceivable level. Make no mistake – had Notts played we almost certainly wouldn’t be going home this content!

The journey back home to Nottingham is eventful in it’s own right – yet not for reasons I’d choose to publish here to the dozen or so people that will read it. But if you’re concerned, yes I did get home safely, thank you for asking. I’ll likely share the gorier details in issue four of Black & White. Cheap plug, I do apologise!

Come Sunday morning, I’ve been contacted on Twitter by The Daily Mail asking for my take on the postponement. I’m not sure I’ve come across many bloggers who have ever turned down work for a national publication, of course I said yes. Putting The Daily Mail on the list of websites and publications that have used me in the past is a big deal as far as I’m concerned.

I’m asked to produce 200 words “looking for detail about train cost, coach cost, how you found it, how frustrating it was, what the club are going to do to help etc”. Anyone that’s read my work knows I can waffle on, so 200 words was going to be difficult. My initial piece was 400 words long prior to me cutting out a few of the minor details (Sean if you’re reading, your name was featured in the first draft!).

Overall I’m content with what was sent over – though in the context of the report it was published in, maybe not so much considering the criticism that has come my way in the immediate aftermath. Sadly, much of the anger seems to stem purely out of a lack of comprehension, and set to a backing track of violins.

I don’t blame Portsmouth – as I’ve already said, County have been here enough in recent weeks. We know better than most right now that this is down the official’s decision making. I’ve said I’m not bothered about the financial loss and that’s very much the case considering the memories we took from the day on the south coast.

To suggest that myself, or even The Daily Mail are trying to kick Pompey when they’re down is ludicrous. I stand by what I’ve said in the piece, that the playing surface could in no way at all have been playable one minute, and “waterlogged” half an hour later. But this was the official’s decision, not Portsmouth’s – it would be nice if the Pompey supporters could read a little bit further than a headline for which I had no responsibility for.

Ultimately, and with the benefit of hindsight I don’t believe putting Saturday’s events succinctly into 200 words is possible. That I submitted nearly 250 would only confirm as much given the reaction.

I do hope that fans of Portsmouth will take five minutes to have read this, and to have made it this far in. If you have, I hope you’ll accept my take on events as they appear here if they can’t agree with what The Daily Mail has printed. In truth, it’s only really the headline that they’ve got wrong!

Yours Sincerely,

A Fat Samantha Brick

8 Comments Add yours

  1. bluedave87 says:

    Hello,

    I wanted to write as a Portsmouth fan having read the Daily Mail article.

    It is indeed a misleading headline. We were fortunate enough to have a recent trip to Hartlepool called off recently due to the weather early enough for fans not to have got far on their long journey.

    Due to our strong away support we appreciate the cost associated with following your team up and down the country. Although your teams travels have been far more successful than ours!

    We did have a farcical game against Leicester around 10 years ago, when Fratton Park resembled a swimming pool due to heavy rain.

    From the pictures in the Daily Mail it is obvious to me that the game should have been called off earlier. I had myself made the journey down to Fratton Park only to check my phone that it had been called off. I blame the Football League Officials.

    It is likely the game will be replayed during a weekday evening, which I’m sure will make it tough for all County fans to attend. I hope I speak for all Pompey fans in saying thank you for piece above.

    I hope your club being the oldest in the Country survives your off the field problems and has a fruitful one on it. We look forward to you attending Fratton Park in the near future and boost the Portsmouth coffers through your ticket money.

  2. exgaffer says:

    AFSB, glad you had a good time in Pompey, though I’m not sure that I’d have chosen the Wetherspoons in Fratton Road.

    Having read the Mail article and your blog, I can sympathise with your point of view and I think we can safely say that the headline was, at best, ill-chosen, at worst deliberately controversial.

    The only problem I have with what you’ve written is the statement that the pitch couldn’t have been playable but then waterlogged half an hour later. As a resident of these British Isles, I’m surprised that you can take this view. A pitch can become waterlogged and unplayable in minutes, let alone half an hour. Surely you must have been at games which kicked off, only to be abandoned half way through? If not, you are either very young or very lucky.

    Anyway, I hope we have a club to welcome you on some future occasion and that the weather gods are smiling on us when (and if) that day comes.

  3. pompey says:

    I’m a Pompey supporter and have been since 1993. I may soon no longer have a football league club to support. I’m depressed, numb and well passed the stage of anger. Please, I’m begging you don’t be upset about travelling to my home town and not seeing a football match. We try here at Pompey we really do. We haven’t won in 13 games ffs, we give teams points. In that regard we are the most generous team in the league, we miss almost every penalty we are awarded. We do all this because we care. And this is how we are treated. The cheek of some people….

    1. pompey says:

      Sorry I meant past, not passed, now even my superior southern education is letting me down. What has the world come too? Well at least I still have alcohol, I suppose. (and yes I was talking sh*t about my ‘superior’ southern education).

  4. FanSince52 says:

    Hi
    Im a Pompey fanatic. Thank you for coming down to Portsmouth and I’m sorry you didn’t get to see a game. I was frustrated too. Hopefully we’ll have a stronger team for the re-arranged game and we’ll beat you!
    Losing money on travelling is a sporting hazard but I’m glad you had a good couple of drinks and got home safely.
    I would never believe the Daily Mail so don’t worry about that.

    1. Stu says:

      There was no way I was going to allow myself to travel that far and sulk in Fratton station until 5.30 haha!

  5. pompey1970 says:

    I haven’t read the Mail – anyone who is contacted by a publication for a ”story” must realise that they might get ”misunderstood”, ‘misquoted’ or have their story turned so it makes a ”story’

    I pity County fans,we recently had a game at Hartlepool postponed at 9am when the coaches were leaving around 5am so would have been almost as far as you travelled.
    I did not expect the game to be off, i must say,and even when it started to rain harder late in the morning i was still a little surprised to hear there was an inspection.I do not believe it was possible to call it off earlier ,impossible i’d say, but the difference between 12.30 and 1pm .I guess the pitch was playable if it stopped raining ,by 1pm it had not and had shown no signs of doing so.Calling it off at 11am would still not have stopped you setting out.

    You may as well kick us while we are down,most others have and i am sure will continue to do so
    It is wonderful to watch pissy little teams come to out place and look like they have won the lottery when they have beaten us . We are in trouble,we are struggling but we will be back but it make take a long time
    If you travel back down for the rearranged fixture come and have a beer or 4 and i am in the chair

    Regards

    1. Stu says:

      You raise a good point – one that I simply plead naivety towards. I think the websites or publications that myself and other bloggers have worked with treat us brilliantly – we’ve all made contributions and neither have been spun in any particular way previously. Aside from a previously ill-fitting headline and a few people being unable to understand where my opinion begins and The Daily Mail’s editorial ends I can’t really hold the Mail accountable for much either.

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