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Courgettes to Manchester City 30/11/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Five-a-day Awaydays.
16 comments

You read the title, boys and girls.

Make it so.

Watford 0 Sheffield United 1 (28/11/2006) 29/11/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
4 comments

One-Word Match report from Tuesday night’s game is:

misery.

Perfect harmony 29/11/2006

Posted by Ian Grant in Thoughts about things.
14 comments

You know, this is a moment worth remembering. Not worth savouring, clearly, but worth storing away for a rainy day. And that rainy day, for it will come soon enough, will involve somebody coming over all conspiratorial and hatching a plot to get promoted to the Premiership, spend barely a penny, get relegated by Christmas and stuff the cash into a huge sack in the cupboard under the stairs to spend on crisps, beer, DVDs and the East Stand everyone seems to think we need. And Freddy Eastwood, or whoever happens to be in vogue at that particular time. It’s a rubbish plan, of course…but to prove it so, you need to remember.

Specifically, you need to remember just how unutterably miserable last night was. Just how it gradually sapped the spirits and dispelled the initial bluster, first with the sheer poverty of the football on display – a better argument for an eighteen team Premiership has surely never been put – and then with the gradual and inevitable realisation that we weren’t even going to draw a veil over the ugly spectacle by snatching a scrappy winner. Worse, we were going to allow our opponents that pleasure. Worse still, our best attempt at changing the inevitable involved sticking a great lump of a central defender in the general vicinity of the opposition penalty area and hoping for the best; that, with a substitution and a supposed striker still in hand. Good grief.

It’s not fun. It might well be that it’s unavoidable, given that we were promoted with a squad that was thin even for the Second Division and given that we had less time than most to strengthen; hard to believe that better forwards than Danny Shittu weren’t within our price range, mind you. It might well be all sorts of things…but it’s not fun. In truth, Adrian Boothroyd’s miracle has been to keep morale high for so long, to preserve the spirit and the standards; anyone starting to doubt his motivational abilities really needs to look at the knocks this team has taken thus far and the displays they’ve produced in direct response.

But performances and results don’t stay out of sync for ever. For me, Portsmouth felt like one last bloody-minded, furious and not a little heroic attempt at wrestling that equation in our favour. Against a side that was patently superior in every department, not to say vastly more elegant in its football, we played with such heart and soul that we managed to bring a stunning result within view, almost within reach. A result that would’ve been roared from that away end like a famous victory, that might – just might – have kick-started something. And then we had those efforts sneered at by the sad, depressing cynicism of modern football. It felt like one final kick in the teeth, too much to take.

So, really, we were overdue something ghastly, something memorably atrocious. It had to happen, in the end. Lo and behold, performances and results were in perfect harmony last night. One fears that the equilibrium might last; for all Aidy’s boisterous (and occasionally inspirational and occasionally tiresome) cheerleading, he has left himself and his players desperately short of options. Anyone fancy trying to motivate Doris for another ninety minutes of chasing the ball as it appears from somewhere over the horizon and then disappears back again? No, thought not. Poor sod.

To return to the age-old get-promoted-and-take-the-cash plan, it completely fails to take into account the damage to the morale of the entire club, players upward. Losing hurts, full stop. It seeds doubts, arguments, idiocy, temptation; it breaks up teams and it ends careers. It brings nothing that’ll be of any value back down there and it destroys a fair amount that money can’t buy. It is not something to build upon.

And it’s just not any fun.

Sheffield United… win or bust? Or rattle and hum? 27/11/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
10 comments

It’s always tempting to over-dramatise the significance of individual games, as Sky are wont to do on an almost weekly basis and particularly so this weekend.  Nonetheless, it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that tomorrow night’s game has rather a lot riding on it.

Not only are we pitched against a side who are immediate rivals for position at the foot of the table, a side who we’ve been regular adversaries of over the years with more than a few memorable encounters even discounting the two epic meetings last season.  But in the context of our wider season the implications are perhaps further reaching than the three points at immediate stake.

Marlon’s injury is without reasonable dispute the most consequential development of our season so far;  it’s easy to forget that many of those draws where three points were missed by dint of our failure to convert chances occurred with King in the team, nonetheless a lack of cutting edge has been our downfall thus far and addressing this shortfall in January is imperative.

In this context, getting some points on the board between now and then is kinda imperative from the point of view of who we might attract.  Win a game or two, leave ourselves at least in touch with the rest of the division and we might be able to cherry pick from all but the very richest pickings from Division Two (David Nugent, one assumes, is already beyond our means, as are the majority of experienced Premiership strikers worth taking).  But struggle and even they might question whether they’re not better off where they are.

Between now and Christmas we have difficult away trips to Liverpool, Newcastle, and most immediately Manchester City, whose flimsy away form has been propped up by points harvested at home.  So wins in our two home games are a must, and in Tuesday’s game all the more so in setting the tone for what must follow.

It hasn’t fallen badly for us.  The weekend’s Blackburn postponement has given our players a break, whilst Sheffield had a trip to West Ham which left them in victim mode after being denied a late equaliser by a contentious refereeing call.  Meanwhile articles on the club’s Official Site and recent public appearances by Aidy Boothroyd can leave none in doubt regarding the emphasis placed on the importance of a rowdy following.

From that point of view it’s probably no coincidence that the two games in recent years in which Vicarage Road really has risen to the challenge, the Palace play-off game and the pivotal relegation scrap with Derby two seasons earlier, were both under floodlights.  Both had a gravity that added to the intoxicating intensity, but this game is hardly insignificant.

At the Supporters’ Trust AGM a week ago, Aidy Boothroyd’s reaction to being told that Health and Safety concerns had prohibited the distribution of free Trust rattles was that folk should “smuggle them in anyway”.  Whether it involves smuggling rattles, saucepan lids, steel bands or just your lungs in tomorrow night, just bloody go for it.  It’s not as if we’ve not been practised in smuggling items into football grounds after all.

Sheffield have one away goal all season.  We can’t allow them a sniff tomorrow night.  By giving it some welly from the stands, we’ll be doing our bit.

Peppers at Pompey 22/11/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Five-a-day Awaydays.
3 comments

Tough going for those that braved Fratton Park, but our pics show that you can’t keep a good veg down.

Salt'n'Pepa

Paul Goss and friend make a first contribution to the campaign.

Pepsie and Shirlie

Corbles Sr and Jr return with a splendid tricoleur.

Michelle Pfeipper

ig, looking somewhat disgusted at the consistency of his wares.

Pep Idol

Mike Raggett’s famous Pat Wickes impersonation.

Pan's Peppers

Fuzz, Fran and Nigel are responsible for this.  “Pepper, James Pepper.  With a licence to put into stocks and pelt with rotten tomatoes.  Terrifying.

Portsmouth 2 Watford 1 (18/11/2006) 19/11/2006

Posted by Ian Grant in Match reports.
9 comments

And the one-word match report is:

Bitter.

Onion and on and on 16/11/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Five-a-day Awaydays.
6 comments

Another picture of a bloke with an onion. (L-R) Frankie Lamps, with onion and Paul Perkins. The judges remind Mr Perkins and others that photos from outside the ground will automatically be disqualified and repeat offences may lead BHaPPY to administer a sound verbal thrashing to the perpetrator. Sort it out, you lot.

Cheese and Onion

Peppers to Pompey 14/11/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Five-a-day Awaydays.
11 comments

Fratton Park on Saturday, and that zero-atmosphere away end.  It being peppers, feel free to earn extra points for a yellow-and-red combo.  No points for Black Pepper, as that’s both the wrong type of pepper and a distinctly inappropriate colour.

Onions at the Bridge… 13/11/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Five-a-day Awaydays.
5 comments

 Only one so far… pathetic.  Sort it out for Pompey, boys and girls.

Class onion

Here’s Dave Lewy at Charlton with his chilli, seeing as we’re short on onions.  Dave blames technical problems with his phone for the fact that you’re only seeing this now.

chilli con charlie

Chelsea 4 Watford 0 (11/11/2006) 11/11/2006

Posted by Matt Rowson in Match reports.
12 comments

Today’s one-word match report is:

Shrug.