Portsmouth’s Barnsley trip brings back memories

Alan Knight comforts Russell Hoult as he's leaves the field at Barnsley following a 1-0 defeat in 2001
Alan Knight comforts Russell Hoult as he's leaves the field at Barnsley following a 1-0 defeat in 2001
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I can’t make up my mind whether I am jealous of those making the trip to Barnsley next weekend, or am glad I’m not going.

My days of going to away games anything like regularly are gone, but in the period when I did pretty much every one – roughly from 1987 to 1999 – Oakwell was a frequent destination.

In fact, there were only four seasons between 1980 and 2001 when we didn’t play them. I’d be surprised if there was a team we played more often during those two decades. 

My earliest Oakwell experience was not in person but on TV, when our snow-hit 2-2 draw with them was one of very few games to survive the weather on the second Saturday of February 1985 and the Match of the Day cameras captured it.

It took me until 1989 to get there myself and the first visit was to set the tone for a ground where almost always, something memorable – good or bad – would happen.

On that occasion we lost 1-0 and the home fans invaded the pitch thinking they were in the play-offs, only for the man on the PA to tell them they weren’t.

A couple of years later my first mid-week trip there ended in a 4-0 defeat when, from memory, we were two goals down and one man (Graeme Hogg) down within 25 minutes. A long night in more ways than one.

Then there was the pleasure of getting up before the crack of dawn on New Year’s Day 1994 to trek up there for a 2-0 defeat. Thanks, fixture computer guys.

The next Tuesday night jaunt was for a 0-0 draw – an improvement on the 4-0, I suppose. But perhaps the most memorable trip of all came six games into the Milan Mandaric era in 1999.

In yellow shirts and blue shorts, we looked like Brazil. And had two sent off in a 6-0 defeat. Glorious. Enjoy your trip next week, folks...