Last weekend my son Scott and I took a trip down memory lane at Fratton Park watching Pompey start their season at home to Dagenham & Redbridge.
Due to a combination of my work commitments and Scott focusing more and more time on his music, about five years ago we didn’t renew our season tickets and though I had attended the odd game here and there, this was the first game we’d attended together for years.
He asked if the atmosphere had changed now we’re in the fourth tier and I assured him it will always be a special place
As Scott is shortly moving to LA, it was also likely to be our last game together for a few years to come.
It really does seem like only yesterday that I took him to his first game, walking to the ground and holding his little hand talking about football.
Even then I knew these were precious moments and the years would fly by, which they did, and I remember the sad moment when, crossing Goldsmith Avenue, he finally pushed my hand away, obviously feeling too old for such babyish practices.
As we re-traced our old route by rail from Havant to Fratton, we talked about the memories this football club has given us together – beating ‘Harry’s’ Southampton 4-1 in a relegation battle, winning the FA Cup and the unforgettable 2-2 draw against AC Milan.
He asked if the atmosphere had changed now we’re in the fourth tier and I assured him it will always be a special place with a unique atmosphere.
It was the same league we were in when I was first watching them and I can still remember the unmistakable roar of the Pompey fans when I witnessed my first goal.
I also remember the look on Scott’s face when he experienced his first goal, though by then we were in the Championship.
Last Saturday, the sun was shining and there was a great buzz among the fans in the ground. As we queued for our ‘just-for-old-times-sake’ chicken balti pie, the Fratton faithful were in full voice.
I prayed for that all-important first-day win, or at least a Pompey goal so Scott could hear the Fratton roar once more, but I also prayed I wouldn’t burn the inside of my mouth with the hot pie as I frequently used to do.
Well my prayers were answered on all three counts. We got the win, Savlon wasn’t required for my mouth, and not only did we hear the roar, we heard it three times.
Our day could not have gone better, though I must admit I was a little heavy-hearted at the thought we wouldn’t be going together again for some time.
One thing is for sure though, Scott got the reminder he needed to take away with him – that Portsmouth FC is still a great club and Fratton Park will always be a special place.