Plymouth loss was painful but unlike in 1993 Pompey will be back stronger

Iain McInnes and Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

Iain McInnes and Paul Cook. Picture: Joe Pepler

Lomana Lualua in action for Pompey against Southampton in April 2005

Cook won’t be drawn on Lualua Pompey return

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Sports Mail columnist the North Stand Nostalgia on Pompey’s play-off pain...

Plymouth’s last-minute goal reignited the 23 years of hurt, that Julian Joachim’s last-minute goal first sparked, way back in 1993 at the City ground in Nottingham.

There was so much injustice felt at our loss, to the current Premier League champions, I still find it difficult to mention their name.

For Pompey 1992-93 was the most fantastic of seasons.

Twelve months after our amazing FA cup run, but ultimate heartache.

Jim Smith’s finely tuned team took Pompey to within touching distance of premiership status, with an exciting brand of football.

The team had a mix of youth and experience, including a brickie (Chris Burns) and a member of the Armed Forces (Guy Whittingham).

Kit and Awfs were superb at the back, especially for young pups.

Guy knocked in 42 record breaking goals and Paul Walsh was the wizard that was.

The whole team complemented each other and would have more than graced the Premiership.

The club would have grown beyond all expectations based on this youthful squad of players, but we stalled at the final hurdle.

So the hurting began and here are the painful reasons why it hurt so much.

Firstly, we finished 12 points above our conquerors, who managed to score a goal that was only three-yards offside, during the second leg.

Both the lino and ref could both be forgiven for not spotting the 6ft 6in Ian Ormondroyd, blatantly in an offside position before he netted.

Secondly, we had to play both play-off games without suspended duo Walsh and Guy Butters.

Due to the crazy goals scored ruling that was in operation that season, that decided placings, a 10-4 defeat, instead of the actual 4-1 result, would have virtually sealed our place in the Premiership.

Finally, the eventual play-off winners Swindon Town, beat a certain east midland team in the play-off final to secure their premier place.

Swindon had allowed West Ham to climb above Pompey to take pole position on the penultimate weekend of the season.

The price of failure was massive, not only financially.

The team the Bald Eagle had built was broken-up.

We would not see such entertainment for another decade.

Having sold Darren Anderton 12 months previously, Whittingham, Beresford, Symons, Walsh, Powell and Kuhl promptly left through the same exit door.

Eventually Jim Smith, departed himself, thus ending an era.

Jim then went on to guide Derby County in the Premiership.

Pompey headed in the opposite direction towards the second of three financial oblivions in my lifetime.

Comparing our current positon to 1993, although we stand two leagues lower, the club itself is on sounder footing.

It was great to hear Ian McInnes’ rallying speech straight after the Home Park defeat.

In Paul Cook we have a manager, we probably don’t deserve on recent achievements.

His CV far exceeds his predecessors. He has made mistakes but will learn from them.

Next season we will be nailed on favourites to secure the only division we have not yet won.

Although I don’t think we deserved to lose against Plymouth, I don’t think we deserved to win either.

Plymouth did finish above us in the table, so fair play to them and good luck to them in their play-off final.

I do not however wish to join an Oliver’s Army quest for Mr Langford’s Premiership appointment.

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