Northstand Nostalgia: Unlikely arrival in Yorkshire left Pompey pals astonished

Leeds Road, the former home of Huddersfield Town
Leeds Road, the former home of Huddersfield Town
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A regular contributor to the Football Mail’s letters page many moons ago, the Northstand Critic has got back in touch...

Every time I arrive at the entrance of my present employ, I am reminded of an historic Hollywood movie, starring one of my all-time favourite British actors.

Bob Hoskins’ portrayal of the former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in Enemy at the Gates brings forth a secret smile.

As mentioned previously, I am now working within the SO postcode and fellow Pompey fans among our group have had to keep their own counsel since arriving on site – because of the proximity in status of our own precious club to that of nearby Eastleigh!

In one conversation deep behind enemy lines last week, a Southampton fan recounted his recent trip to Wembley.

His obvious disappointment at defeat had soon been diluted by the help of a pint or 10.

His debauched group, however, missed their last train home, lost one of their party and had to hire a taxi from Basingstoke to complete the final leg.

This tale, not only reminded me of another Hollywood movie, John Candy’s Planes, Trains, & Automobiles (without the planes) but also of a trip of my own, that again required a cabby’s assistance.

Sat on a coach in December 1980, about to depart for Pompey’s game at Huddersfield, I wasn’t feeling at all well.

Anyone within the NSC’s circle of trust would confirm this bout was unlikely to be caused by me being over imbibed.

Due to a propensity to giddiness if exceeding two shandies, I no longer partake of alcohol.

My carer that day, was the irrepressible Marty Fooks, who ensured I was dropped off near my house before proceeding towards West Yorkshire via a hostelry or two.

Once indoors, I immediately began to feel much better and decided to make another attempt at reaching Pompey’s venue.

My dad kindly took me to Fratton station as I tried to catch up with the rest of the Blue Army, although it now seemed unlikely I would reach Leeds Road before kick-off.

A hasty tube journey had me sat aboard the Kings Cross express to Doncaster in double quick time but I was still not due in Huddersfield until shortly before half-time.

However, I figured the 45 miles between Donny and Huddersfield could be covered much quicker by road than rail.

I just needed someone to share the exorbitant but requisite taxi fare.

As luck would have it, on board I located three other Pompey fans, who themselves were running late – because of their failure to fully comprehend the vagaries of the London underground system.

Only after explaining about 100 times to the trio their sole chance of seeing the full 90 minutes lay on them accompanying me, in my Yorkshire cab, did they finally succumb.

Our pre-uber charabanc arrived in plenty of time to witness Pompey’s drab 0-0 draw.

The highlight, for me, was observing the arrival of Fooksy’s inebriated troops, some 20 minutes into the game.

They were astonished at how yours truly had managed to arrive before them and be stood on that Leeds Road terrace, after making such a groggy departure from their coach earlier in the day.

Northstandcritic, improvised traveller, persuader and latter-day Lazarus.