Give me a reason to visit Fratton Park

Boyhood hero Ron Springett.
Boyhood hero Ron Springett.
Hampshire's Jimmy Gray and Roy Marshall walk out to open the batting at Burnaby Road in a 1950s match

PICTURE GALLERY: Memories of Hampshire cricket at Burnaby Road

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At one time I would have known every Pompey player by name and a few personally.

The England squad would have been just as familiar and at one time I could name every First Division goalkeeper.

Even now when I think about it I can go through the old First Division of the 1960s and remember most of them: Leicester-Banks; Chelsea-Bonetti; Notts Forest-Grummitt; Everton-West, Sheffield Wednesday-Springett (Ron), Blackpool-Waiters, Liverpool-Clemence, Arsenal-Wilson and so on.

Why is it then, for the life of me, I don’t know who Gary Cahill is or who he plays for? Also, why is it that I did not know that a player named Ashley Cole received his century of caps playing for England last week or who he plays for?

Has the modern game got so boring that I have become that uninterested with the players and their antics?

I am talking about a man who has visited just about every ground in England, watching his beloved Pompey play since 1959.

Today I would not walk across the road to go inside Fratton Park, the ground that holds so many memories for me both. I have stood shoulder to shoulder with two much-missed brothers shouting ourselves hoarse singing the Chimes. I have stood in the Fratton End with so many fans that I could not raise my arms above my head.

I have walked out of the gates down Frogmore Road and been carried off my feet for several yards, there were so many leaving the ground at the final whistle.

I was once threatened with the sack from my job when I took a Saturday afternoon off to see the great Ron Springett when he played for Queens Park Rangers. He was my boyhood hero and there was no way I was going to miss seeing him.

I just hope that whoever takes over at Fratton Park can instil something in me to visit my field of dreams once again.