Northstand Nostalgia: Ron, Ray and Richie were my three Rs

Ron Tindall

Ron Tindall

Enda Stevens. Picture: Joe Pepler

Enda Stevens: Why I quit Pompey

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A regular contributor to the Football Mail’s letters page many moons ago, the Northstand Critic has got back in touch.

Here are his thoughts on his lifelong battle with football fever...

I cannot remember when the first symptoms started to appear.

Probably in my latter years of junior school.

My mathematics never added up, my writing was illegible and unless it was a copy of my favoured ‘Scorcher & Score’ comic I was reading, this very basic task would also be a real effort.

The three Rs to me were Ron Tindall, Ray Pointer and Richie Reynolds.

Biology, chemistry and physics were all Science fiction.

All languages just seemed double dutch but if anyone asked me to recite the entire Hartlepool United squad of the 1972-73 campaign (or any other football league side for that matter), I could do so, without fail or repetition.

Do I have a photographic memory? No!

This was just an early sign I had contracted football fever.

My father loved his football, as does my middle son – both in moderation.

But due to some strange genetic mutation, my footballing hyper-interest has over the years manifested itself in some bizarre fanatical quests.

Seeing Pompey play at many more than 100 different grounds almost seems normal behaviour – compared to taking two days unpaid leave to watch Pompey Youth vie with Birmingham City Youth at St Andrews in a Southern Junior Floodlit Cup tie.

During this era of the late 70s and early 80s, the holy grail for me each season was to try to attend every Pompey first team match.

Although I never achieved that goal, I did attain a 90-per-cent success rate.

I also decided supporting one team was not enough for me, so I adopted Fulham as my second XI.

The Lilywhites sometimes played their home games on a Friday night, so I would often find myself at Craven Cottage a few hours before my compulsory Pompey appointment.

On one particular Good Friday, Pompey were without a fixture and I managed to see Fulham play Mansfield in the morning, Chelsea take on Arsenal in the afternoon and Orient host Sheffield United in the evening.

Although I obviously remember attending all three games, I cannot remember any of the results or the reasons why I went.

This apparently is just another symptom.

I also found the time and the money to watch many of England’s home internationals during this golden decade.

I obviously had more money than sense but little of either in reality.

Adding to my expenditure was the necessity to buy a programme from every match I attended and many I didn’t.

The majority of these have now been given away or sold.

The one thing I wouldn’t trade, however, are the memories.

Some of my symptoms are ones I share with others of my generation.

Will the youth of today view their Pokemon pursuits and Xbox fixations similarly in the future?

Northstand Jnr (number two) has inherited a more sensible gene and does not feel the need to watch every Pompey fixture.

Although he is a season ticket holder, he only attends the odd away game with his old man.

His two brothers no longer go to Fratton Park at all and only watch their footy on TV.

This particular strain of football fever, although not totally broken, appears to be under control.

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