'I haven't missed a Portsmouth game for 36 years' - The behind-closed-doors impact on the Fratton faithful

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For the past 36 years, Mick Souter has been ever-present at Pompey league and play-off action.

Not even the challenges of travelling from the Isle of Wight and, on occasions, sleeping on ferry terminal floors have halted his commitment.

Yet on Friday, that remarkable unbroken run will end.

Souter and the rest of the Fratton faithful must find alternative means of following progress against Oxford United.

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As with other matches upon football’s return, the play-off semi-final first leg will take place behind closed doors.

The 72-year-old has attended all six of Pompey’s previous matches in the format.

While the last Football League game he was absent from was a Division Two 3-2 defeat at Oldham in April 1984, with Neil Webb and Mark Hateley the scores.

Now that’s to change.

Mick Souter (second from the left) joins fellow Pompey fans at Blackpool ahead of a matchMick Souter (second from the left) joins fellow Pompey fans at Blackpool ahead of a match
Mick Souter (second from the left) joins fellow Pompey fans at Blackpool ahead of a match

Souter told The news: ‘I cannot even remember why I missed that Oldham match in 1984. Perhaps I was working, I’m not sure.

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‘Since then I haven’t missed a league game, the play-offs, the FA Cup or League Cup. Although I didn’t attend a Full-Members Cup match at Sheffield Wednesday in November 1986.

‘I’m sure other people have been to more consecutive Pompey matches than me. I definitely won’t be the only one.

‘Although considering I live on the Isle of Wight, it is difficult to get to games, I can tell you that.

‘These days Wightlink run ferries all night, so you don’t mind waiting a couple of hours here and there.

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‘But there was a time when I’d return from a midweek trip up north and have to sleep on the floor in the terminal as I waited for the 6am ferry. It happened quite a few times.

‘These days the timetable is more flexible, so there’s a ferry at 3am, which makes life a lot easier for us Pompey fans on the island.

‘Still, it’s disappointing nobody will be allowed into these play-off games, I wouldn’t have missed them if that hadn't been the case.

‘Being Pompey, they’re now likely to win and go to Wembley, but none of us will be present.

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‘You see all the lows at the club, so it’s nice to also watch the highs. In this instance, Pompey could get promotion – without us there.’

The Ryde-based fan’s first Pompey game was in September 1959, when Freddie Cox’s side suffered a 2-1 home defeat to Aston Villa.

Ron Saunders netted the hosts’ goal, a player who remains one of the Souter’s all-time favourite players.

Since that match, the South stand season-ticket holder estimates he has attended more than 2,000 Pompey fixtures.

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He added: ‘I haven’t got a clue how I’m going to watch Friday’s game – I don’t own Sky.

‘Considering I never miss a game, the only time I’ve seen Pompey play on TV was the Barclays Asia Trophy win over Liverpool in July 2007, when they were in Hong Kong.

‘I watched that down the pub, but even that option isn’t there at the moment.

‘I’m sure I’ll watch it somewhere. I always do.’

Have you seen every Pompey league and play-off match for more than 36 years? If so, please get in touch with [email protected]

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