So the day ended in a draw and a derby game that most Pompey fans will never forget. David Norris’s injury-time equaliser sending the travelling fans into raptures.
But what also shouldn’t be forgotten is what the 3,000-plus travelling fans were forced to endure to get to the match in Southampton.
The ‘bubble’, as it’s known, meant all Pompey fans going to the game had to travel on coaches from the city, in a slow convoy along the M27 and into a safe area around the St Mary’s stadium.
While we acknowledge that safety is paramount, the situation meant that the majority of law-abiding fans had their freedom of movement restrained.
All this, just because of the risk of a few idiots causing trouble. Of course, there’s fierce rivalry between the two clubs and yes, there has been trouble in the past.
But what about trusting people like they’re trusted to go anywhere else in the country?
And what of the decent fans who, compelled to join a high-profile convoy, had no choice but ride through a corridor of hostility and abuse on the streets of Southampton?
Some of the fans transported on the bubble have praised it, saying it’s a small price to pay for safety. Others say sensible policing should be enough and the bubble is an over-the-top response to a problem that could be better managed.
We have considerable sympathy with the latter. There must be a better way, that does not put the fans through such a rigmarole.
In the end, there were only five arrests – and those in the ground itself – so statistically the concept was a success, as it was when Saints came to Fratton Park.
It’s unlikely the Pompey will meet Saints in the league next year, but we sincerely hope to be playing them again soon. And by then we hope that the Hampshire Constabulary have managed to come up with a way to police fans’ journeys to and from the game that is fairer to the law-abiding majority.