COMMENT: For one day only, the EFL Trophy DOES matter ....
It is the match that no Portsmouth FC fan ever really wanted to attend. But over 40,000 of them will do exactly that at Wembley this weekend.
Not since 1968 have so many Pompey supporters watched the same game together as they will Sunday’s 2018/19 EFL Trophy final against another ‘fallen giant’, Sunderland.
Currently sponsored by Checkatrade, the competition is among the most ridiculed in English football history.
And not that long ago, the thought of Pompey competing for this silverware would have been laughable.
After all, the EFL Trophy is a competition for third and fourth division clubs. And, lest we forget, only 11 years ago Harry Redknapp led Pompey to FA Cup final glory and eighth place in the Premier League.
The EFL Trophy has just one major plus point – it carries with it the carrot of a Wembley final. And that still matters.
Pompey, of course, have been to the ‘new’ Wembley five times – a hat-trick of appearances in 2008 and two more in 2010.
It would be foolish – an exercise in rank stupidity even – to compare FA Cup semi finals and finals to the EFL Trophy final.
But the bottom line is this – over 40,000 Pompey fans DO care about the EFL Trophy now.
Almost certainly they will never care about it again as much as they will this weekend but that is not the point.
The point is that a competition perennially ridiculed will provide over 40,000 Blues fans with a day out at the national stadium. Wembley has always been the Holy Grail for football fans, and thankfully – as Sunday patently shows – it still is.
A sunny day out at Wembley always provides hope, and the EFL Trophy final could be a sign that brighter times lie ahead for Portsmouth Football Club.
It will be a long climb back to attempt to recreate those 2008 glories, but victory over Sunderland will be another step in the right direction. PUP!