In last week’s column, regarding away travel for the Pompey fan of both today and bygone days, I mentioned our League Cup tie at Anfield way back in October 1980.
This was an historic tie for the club and its fans of my generation.
Since my first home game in 1970 and first away game (1973), I had only witnessed the occasional glimpse of the full Pompey vibe – derbies against Brighton and Saints, cup ties at Charlton and Birmingham were all great occasions.
However, standing in the Annie Road end that evening and out-singing the famous Kop, even through a gallant defeat (4-1), rubberstamped all the stories told to me by my father of the ‘Great Pompey’, its loyal fans and their relationship with their team.
The incessant chiming was deafening.
I knew then that this was not about potential, this was our deserved stage.
My conservative estimate of 9,000 Pompey fans at the match could officially rise towards 16,000 of the 32,000 crowd.
Apart from three special trains, there was hundreds of coaches, minibuses and cars.
My adventure to Anfield began back in July of that year.
While returning from Pompey’s tour of Ireland, my train had been diverted towards Paddington and passed through the previously-never-heard-of town of Iver (Bucks).
I liked the name and for some reason it stuck in my mind.
Fast forward to October and Pompey, having beaten Plymouth, Oldham and Bristol Rovers in the League Cup, were drawn away to Liverpool in the fourth round.
Having seen all the previous ties, our little group (The Magpie six) would not have missed this match for the world, but money as usual was a problem.
Consecutive away games at Colchester and Oxford resulted in a cumulative empty-pocket syndrome.
An idea to get us all up to Merseyside would be required. Luckily, I had one.
In the pre-digital age, if you required to purchase a train ticket to go to Southampton, Brighton, London, or any local stations a small pink ticket would be issued to you, with the destination pre-printed across its middle.
The ticket attendant would then place the ticket in his till where the price would be added.
If you required a less common destination, the destination would be written manually on a blank ticket.
The day before the game six of us went to Fratton station and I approached the booth and mumbled ‘six day return tickets to Iver please’.
The upcoming fixture was the talk of the town, everybody seemed to be going.
And the railman quizzically enquired, why we were not going to the game.
As quick as a flash, I replied, that we were a table-tennis team, playing a county match in Buckinghamshire, and none of us liked football.
The ticket seller had dually written Iver across the middle of the tickets but with just enough room for us to add an ‘L’ preceding Iver and a ‘P’ ‘apostrophe L’ after Iver.
So the table tennis sextet managed to travel up to Liverp’l and back for about £3 each.
Due to the masses of Pompey fans on the train, the tickets barely had a second glance all day.
Here endith this confession by the NORTHSTANDCRITIC.
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