Pompey: Teenage Kicks

Fratton end season ticket holder Ben Sturt gives his thoughts on the latest events from Fratton Park...

Sunday, 22nd May 2016, 8:00 am
Danny Hollands, centre, had to go off injured in the first half against Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

A journey to the west country full of aspiration, anticipation and nervousness.

The biggest game since the 2010 FA Cup final which was coincidentally six years ago to that day.

Such was the desperation to be there, myself and my mates chipped in together to pay for a ‘box’ at Home Park after we missed out on tickets in the away end.

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Separated from the action by double glazed windows, we watched on with agony.

Pompey were on their knees.

It was obvious.

Unfortunately, we ran out of steam at the very final hurdle.

Injuries to Gareth Evans and Danny Hollands, on reflection, put the nail in the coffin.

And although it is true late goals have been costly in the quest for an automatic promotion spot, this last-minute goal was coming.

You felt it was a matter of when, not if.

About 20 minutes before the end, you knew that it would be Plymouth going to Wembley – the writing was on the wall.

And when Peter Hartley bundled the ball over the line, the box went silent, and I rested my head against the wall.

But I wasn’t devastated, because I was preparing myself for that moment in the minutes leading up to it.

Pompey have been fantastic this season.

We have finally made progression on the pitch, but we have fallen short of the requirements for a top three spot.

Paul Cook can only make us stronger and address the mistakes of the 2015/16 season.

Then we go again.

In almost a blink of an eye, Pompey were preparing for next season with the announcement of the retained list.

Cook showed a ruthless edge by telling Adam McGurk, Kal Naismith and Matt Tubbs to find a new club, as well as releasing Brian Murphy.

He also looks set to be bringing in some funds for new players with the deal to take Adam Webster to Ipswich.

Matt Clarke arriving on a permanent move in return will be good news.

If, and when players like Tubbs, McGurk and Naismith return to Fratton Park, I hope they are applauded not taunted.

They have been good to us.

But the pack needed shuffling a bit, in order to make us better.

No overhaul, rather a tweak.

I’m sorry to see those players, who have at times endeared themselves to the crowd and provided moments of quality, fall victim to change.

But we are all right behind Cook.

We don’t want a club that chops and changes when it please.

Instead, we all want progress and a vision for long-term success.

We have seen first hand how vicious the consequences of short-term agendas can be so we have a different perspective.

Take us up next season, Cookie!