Ertl: Crewe marked Pompey rebirth

Johnny Ertl celebrates with the Pompey fans after victory at Gresty Road in March 2013 Picture: Joe Pepler

Johnny Ertl celebrates with the Pompey fans after victory at Gresty Road in March 2013 Picture: Joe Pepler

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JOHNNY ERTL celebrated the memory of Pompey’s ‘rebirth’ as they return to Crewe today.

Paul Cook’s side travel to Gresty Road looking to kick-start their League Two campaign.

But Ertl believes their last visit to the Railwaymen’s home three years ago was one of the most significant in the club’s recent history.

The 2-1 success in 2013 has its place in Fratton folklore, as it marked the end of the club’s 23-game winless run – Pompey’s worst ever.

The run, stretching 134 days, came with the club in administration as it fought for survival.

But the victory marked the start of five wins and three draws from 10 games, culminating in the march into the new community era.

Ertl, who captained the side, has no doubt how seminal a moment the Crewe game was.

He said: ‘It was a crazy day.

‘I remember being with Ricardo Rocha in the last five minutes and wanting the win so desperately.

‘It was such a big relief because it was such a difficult time for the club.

‘I personally feel the game at Crewe marked the rebirth of the club. After that moment everything started to fall into the place.

‘That’s from the takeover, results on the pitch and the spirit which was created.

‘We went on a fantastic run from that moment until the end of the season. We played such good football.

‘Our performances on the pitch after Crewe pushed the spirit of the whole club. People realised we could go on a good run and get good wins.

‘It was really good to watch and it gave us the feeling that Portsmouth is alive.

‘It was so difficult before and felt like the end of the club. But this was hope for the supporters after the whole year being difficult.’

The sight of Ertl and his team-mates celebrating with fans after the game remains an iconic one.

The Pompey Supporters’ Trust board member felt it was a victory for then-boss Guy Whittingham, who soldiered the players through that testing period.

‘It was brilliant. One supporter jumped over and joined us,’ said Ertl.

‘The Crewe stewards tried to get him off the pitch, but it was already too late.

‘But they realised it’s good fun with the Portsmouth fans, so they let them do what they wanted to do. It was great.

‘Guy had one of the most difficult jobs at this time. He stepped up after the previous manager left and players were leaving all the time.

‘We printed the table off after the Crewe game, looked at how many games were left and what we wanted to achieve.

‘After that, we were always in the top five or six for form until the end of the season. There were some good teams we played, too.

‘Sometimes you just need that one win to make things happen.’

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