The Northstand Critic looks back on a trip to Port Vale in the 1970s...
Last week’s journey into my Pompey past travels took me to deepest Devon.
This week’s edition revolves around a trip to the Potteries in the late 1970s.
A midweek fixture at Port Vale brought a last-minute decision to travel in the back of an overloaded transit van.
This was truly something stupid of me to attempt, with a round trip of 350 miles ahead of me.
With such impending discomfort I began to feel I might come undone sooner rather than later.
The overweight van was struggling to gain any inertia as it pulled away from the Froddington Arms pub in Fratton and it required us to lose some bodies, otherwise it would have taken an eternity to reach Vale Park, and we neither had the time or patience to continue.
It was subsequently decided the four youngest looking kids, of which I was one, would be dropped off at the town station where we all purchased one-way child tickets to Stoke. (Nearest mainline station to PVFC), with the intention of returning home on a supporters’ club coach.
On the train, now sat in supreme comfort we were having no regrets about our change of transport.
On arrival at Stoke, we hailed a cab, to take us the few miles to Burslem (PVFC’S location).
During this journey we noticed it had been raining, but we were all completely taken aback when the radio announced that this evening’s game was now postponed.
At first we thought we misunderstood the presenter’s local dialect, but he confirmed that the cancellation was due to a localised flood.
The real shame in the news of the postponement was the fact that the referee had indeed called the game off over an hour previous and all the supporters club coaches were now heading back south, leaving us stranded in Stoke.
Then in the distance I spotted something beautiful.
It was a Radio Victory sun sticker in the front of a Mark 2 Ford Cortina which was making its way into the Vale Park car park, its two occupants unaware of the postponement.
As I approached the handsome man who was driving, I tried to feign recognition, greeting him with a friendly you know me, even though he clearly didn’t.
He did, however, agree to take two of our four back to Pompey.
We promptly drew lots to decide the lucky would be Cortina passengers, and as luck would have it, I had the longest straw.
So as the other lucky straw holder (JB) and myself got into the car, our remaining two straw-envy fellow commuters (PW & DL) headed towards the M6 and a long hitchhike home.
Win some, lose some I suppose.
When relaying this tale to Mrs Northstand, she was amazed at the lengths I would go to, just to follow Pompey.
She added that the only way she would ever consider travelling to Stoke herself, would be to see its home-town heart-throb Robbie Williams, perform all of his hit songs.
I countered this by saying that nothing could be further from my mind!