Fans make Pompey pilgrimage

Costa Del Sol Supporters Club
Costa Del Sol Supporters Club
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Jackett not worried by Pompey’s defensive lapses

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More than 100 avid Pompey fans have followed the Blues to Spain today, according to the local branch of the supporters club.

Steve Cotterill will take his side to Estadio Benito Villamarin tonight (8pm BST) to play Real Betis in a friendly, after the pre-season meeting between the sides at Fratton Park was cancelled.

And chairman of the Costa Del Sol Supporters Club, Gary Benham, says 16 of the Fratton faithful will even be sleeping in his garden under mosquito nets, so determined are they to watch the game.

He said: ‘The central branch of the supporters club will be coming here via Madrid and I would imagine around 130 fans will be there.

‘It’s a shame it was at such short notice. We’ve got some fans coming from Spain, Portugal and Gibraltar but with more warning there could have been even more.

‘It’s obviously good for us they are coming and we’re surprised to say the least.

‘I’m a great believer in destiny, though, and the last time Pompey came this way was April 2008 and obviously we went on to win the FA Cup that year!’

Pompey will face Betis after the Spanish side secured victory in their opening La Liga fixture on Saturday – beating fellow promoted side Granada 1-0 thanks to Ruben Castro’s 88th-minute strike.

And Benham says the two sides will be well matched.

‘Real Betis are a working-class football team and we have links with them through the local team Malaga who play in La Liga, too,’ he said.

‘They are very similar to Pompey – even the motto when translated is similar.’

Benham said fans can enjoy meeting by Seville’s famous cathedral, then heading to a bar synonymous with foreign football fans.

He said: ‘Fans coming over here will enjoy a clash of football and culture, I can’t stress enough what a beautiful place Seville is.’

Pompey will be tested by extreme heat but he feels the squad are well prepared after a steady start to the season.

He said: ‘Steve Cotterill has our backing after doing such a good job last season. He’s steadying the ship and building for the future. Just look where we were 12 months ago.’