Pompey prepare for Blundell Park return - 14 years on

Mark Burchill scored the only goal of the game as Pompey beat Grimsby in August 2002 Picture: Steve Reid
Mark Burchill scored the only goal of the game as Pompey beat Grimsby in August 2002 Picture: Steve Reid
Dion Donohue Picture: Joe Pepler

Scunthorpe v Pompey: early team news

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It is an absence which has spanned 14 years, three month and 15 days.

But Saturday will mark Pompey’s return to Blundell Park.

Not since the Division One title-winning campaign under Harry Redknapp have the Blues ventured to the Lincolnshire home of Grimsby Town.

Since then, Pompey have reached the Premier League, won the FA Cup, featured in Europe and tumbled down the leagues.

As for Grimsby, they spent six years outside the Football League altogether before this season’s return under Paul Hurst.

But on August 26, 2002, it took a Mark Burchill goal five minutes from time to separate the sides.

The Scot had been introduced for Deon Burton in the 56th minute as Redknapp attempted to find a breakthrough.

He responded by popping up in the 85th minute to fire home a low volley and clinch the points for the visitors.

That result lifted the Blues to the top of Division One for the first time that season – a spot they would maintain for the majority of the campaign.

Come April 27, 2003, a 3-2 win over Rotherham ensured they were unassailable, securing the title.

As for Grimsby, they would finish bottom, 11 adrift points from safety.

Looking back at that last encounter, player-manager Paul Groves’ side approached the fixture without a win in their opening four matches, yet were not present in the bottom three.

Groves, who would later become Pompey’s first-team coach and serve a two-day stint as caretaker boss, started in midfield for the hosts.

They also named former Nottingham Forest defender Steve Chettle in their side as he approached his 34th birthday.

As for Pompey, they were without Linvoy Primus, who that year would go on to claim The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season.

With Steve Stone having not yet arrived from Aston Villa, Jason Crowe occupied the right wing-back position.

There was also a start for Richard Hughes, who would end the campaign on loan at Blundell Park, making 12 appearances.

Redknapp’s side may have left it late that day, but they continued their march right the way to the Premier League.

GRIMSBY: Coyne, McDermott, Gallimore, Ford, Chettle, Campbell, Cooke, Coldicott (87mins Robinson), Groves, Barnard (87mins Rowan), Kabba.

POMPEY: Hislop, Festa, Foxe, De Zeeuw, Crowe

(63 mins Harper), Hughes, Quashie, Taylor, Merson, Burton (56mins Burchill), Todorov (89mins Robinson)

Attendance: 5,770