Weekend of tragedy that brought fans together

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While the eyes of the nation were on a footballing tragedy played out on national television, supporters in Portsmouth had another reason to shed a tear.

Even as the cameras showed the scenes of medical staff trying to revive stricken Bolton star Patrice Muamba after his collapse on the pitch, Pompey’s faithful were full of sadness at the death of one of their own.

Shock at the untimely passing of Tony Goodall, who was a founding member of Pompey’s supporters trust, will be felt by football fans and the wider community alike.

Several commentators over the weekend have spoken about how tragedy can put everything into perspective, and how it can show that in the greater scheme of things, football matters little.

But perhaps the opposite might also be true. At its best, football has the ability to bring whole communities together. We saw on Saturday how fans of all allegiances united in hope and prayer for Muamba.

At the same time, at Fratton Park, supporters from around the country gathered to show their support for a club whose existence is under threat.

Pompey’s crisis has brought the city together in ways that few other things could.

It’s not just about Pompey fans, or football fans, but about people across the city recognising the football club’s worth and banding together to support it.

Some people help in small ways, while other people make it their mission.

Tony Goodall was one of the latter – working tirelessly for years for the benefit of fans and the city to ensure the ordinary person’s voice is heard.

The work of Pompey’s 12th Man campaign and initiatives such as Pack the Park will of course continue, as he no doubt would have wished.

And the greatest tribute to him will be that because of Tony and the people who share his passion, we know that whatever challenges lie ahead, and whatever form Portsmouth Football Club ends up taking, the Pompey Chimes will ring out across the city long after we are all gone.