AT 8.30am, more than 80 police officers were gathered in a lecture hall at Southampton City College, just a few hundred yards from Saints home at St Mary’s, for the final briefing on Operation Delphin.
It was their role to look after the two convoys that would travel from St Mary’s to Fratton Park and ensure that they arrived safely.
The first convoy saw 17 coaches leave St Mary’s and meet up on the M27 with four coaches from Winchester.
About 15 minutes later, the second half left the football ground to meet up with five coaches at Bursledon. All vehicles moved at a steady 40mph to keep them close together.
Leading the traffic operation, Chief Inspector Steve Baxter finished the briefing with: ‘Let’s hope it goes well, stay safe and enjoy it.’
Along the way, a patrol car was stationed on every bridge over the motorway. A few people gathered on some of the bridges, but were made to wait on the opposite side as the convoys passed under them.
A police helicopter was also monitoring the convoys’ progress from the air.
As the convoys approached Portsmouth, police bikes briefly closed off the junction 12 sliproads, allowing the coaches to enter a secure ‘bubble’.
Heading down Eastern Road, bikes moved ahead to clear the way and traffic lights were remotely controlled to stay green.
And as the coaches entered the secure drop-off zone in Rodney Road, police vans immediately blocked the road behind them.