Portsmouth memories of Europe hold some regret

A football is introduced to the festivities in Praca de Santiago in the centre of Guimaraes hours before kick off. Picture: Steve Reid
A football is introduced to the festivities in Praca de Santiago in the centre of Guimaraes hours before kick off. Picture: Steve Reid

Can you believe it’s a full decade since Pompey’s European campaign? 

To be precise, it was 10 years ago last Tuesday that we witnessed the Blues beating Vitoria Guimaraes in our UEFA Cup opener at Fratton Park.

What a wonderful occasion that was – albeit one played out early evening on a Thursday. Of course it was bettered 10 weeks later when the team we thought were Bournemouth in disguise arrived and were given an almighty scare by Tony Adams’ troops.

In some ways our UEFA Cup season seems like yesterday – in others it feels like a generation ago, so many highs and lows having been come along since then.

I don’t have many regrets where my Pompey-watching years (now numbering 37) are concerned, but I do have one related to our first (and so far only) European crusade. And that’s that I didn’t make the effort to go to one of the away games – in particular the second leg of the Guimaraes tie.

Some of the tales told of the pre-match Pompey takeover of the town square, followed by the game itself and Peter Crouch’s goals sparking a midnight celebration to cherish, put this occasion up there with some of THE great Pompey awaydays of all-time. 

I think I thought at the time ‘No need to go abroad this year – we’ll be there regularly over the next few seasons.’

In fact, even before that season’s group campaign was over, things had started to fall apart. If memory serves, it was a total of three days after our Euro swansong, a 3-0 home win over Heerenveen, that it emerged that Sacha Gaydamak had announced he was not putting any more money into the club.

I sometimes wonder if we’ll see another European adventure. Knowing Pompey, we probably will. And I promise to get my passport ready next time.