The moment I fell in love with Pompey | Rick Jackson

I can still remember the precise moment I fell in love with the beautiful game of football – 7:15pm on Tuesday, September 25, 1984.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 5:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 5:13 pm
MAGIC MOMENT: Alan Biley scores for Pompey

Until that time, love had only been realised through the television watching Match of the Day or The Big Match at the weekend.

But there I was, 11 years old and my uncle finally felt I was old enough to join him for a match at what was the holy grail of football grounds for me, Fratton Park.

I can still see and feel the moment I saw that lush, green pitch for the first time – the damp evening grass seemed to sparkle in the incredibly bright beams from the towering floodlights above.

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My excitement grew from the moment we stepped on to the old diesel passenger ferry at Ryde Pier Head. It was full of Pompey fans all dressed for the occasion.

As we all made our pilgrimage through the streets to the stadium, those distant bright lights guided us to our spiritual home.

It was the Milk Cup and Division Two Pompey faced Brian Clough’s Division One side Nottingham Forest. Four years previously they had been champions of Europe.

We won the first leg 1-0 thanks to an Alan Biley header. We lost the second leg 3-0 but too late, I was hooked.

That for me is football. Joining friends and family, enjoying the experience together, the ups and the downs.

I feel sorry for anyone who supports those ‘big six’ clubs, the ones wrapped up in the European Super League débacle. I bet you have no real connection with them do you? I bet you feel even less now?

I loved being in the Premier League, but strangely enough I felt closer to my team when we weren’t.

Having a beer with my old neighbours John Durnin and Adrian Whitbread or enjoying a post-match chat with Andy Awford and Alan Knight. Jermaine Defoe and Sol Campbell couldn’t leave the ground quick enough. None of them lived anywhere near the city.

We might not be heavyweights but I wouldn’t want my club any other way.

Michael Eisner may have a net worth of $1billion, but the last thing I’d want is for us to become another Manchester City or Chelsea.

We got through Easter, now I just need to avoid minefields

We survived Easter! Freddie may have fallen into a barbed wire fence and Holly may have wrecked the sofa with a huge blob of slime, but they are still alive and now back at school.

We’ve loved our time together. I know I may sound like it isn’t, but fatherhood is the best job. Spontaneous hugs, infectious laughter and screams of joy are all things dreams are made of. Screams of another kind at home though.

Treading on Lego – painful. Treading on marbles – excruciating. On a trip to Fort Nelson they bought Fun Snaps, small pieces of high explosive wrapped in cigarette paper. Throw them at the floor and they bang. It’s much worse treading on one​​​​​​.

All jabbed up and raring to go straight back to new normal

I had my first Covid vaccination jab last week. What a superb process. I turned up half an hour early but went in straight away. It was swift, well-organised and friendly with lots of behind-the-mask banter.

In I went. Oxford AstraZenica. I was warned about the minute risk of blood clots, and then in it went. I’ve felt fine apart from a dead left arm. Everyone reacts differently, from no side effects to feeling unwell. All I’ve had is a sore throat, but bizarrely only on the same side as the jab.

At the end of June I’m booked in for my second. Well done to all in the pharmacy in Guildhall Walk for making it such an easy process and helping us return to some sort of normality.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron. You can subscribe here for unlimited access to our online coverage, including Pompey, for 27p a day.