Nine years on from trip to Liverpool – Portsmouth set to experience 40,000-plus fans for league game again at Sunderland
Pompey are poised to play in front of their largest league crowd in more than nine years when they travel to Sunderland tomorrow.
The League One automatic promotion rivals go head-to-head at the Stadium of Light as both sides chase a top-two finish and a mouthwatering return to the Championship.
And the magnitude of the occasion will be reflected in the attendance on Wearside, with more than 40,000 spectators – including around 3,000 Blues fans – expected to descend on the home of the Black Cats.
The anticipated crowd will represent the second-highest attendance ever recorded in the third tier, eclipsed only by the 46,039 who witnessed Sunderland’s 1-0 Boxing Day win over Bradford this season.
And while Pompey are no strangers to playing in front of massive crowds – this season’s Checkatrade Trophy final against the Black Cats, for instance, attracted a crowd of 85,021 – not since the Premier League days have the Blues played in front of such a large support.
A 4-1 defeat at Liverpool in March 2010 was the last time Pompey competed in front of a 40,000-plus crowd for a league game.
On that occasion, an Anfield attendance of 40,316 watched on as Nadir Belhadj grabbed a late consolation goal for Avram Grant’s side, after a Fernando Torres double, plus efforts from Ryan Babel and Alberto Aquilani put the Reds firmly in control.
Also that season, Pompey played in front of more than 40,000 supporters on three other occasions.
Their game at Manchester City attracted a crowd of 44,015, while trips to Arsenal (60.049) and Manchester United (74,684) easily surpassed that figure.
Across two seasons in the Championship from 2010-12, the Blues performed in front of league attendances of more than 30,000 on only three occasions.
A 3-3 draw at Leeds in 2010 attracted a numbers of 31,556.
Meanwhile, the thrilling 4-3 loss at West Ham in 2011 (33,465) and the last league south coast derby at St Mary’s in 2012 (31,743) proved popular among supporters.
However, in the subsequent seasons spent in league’s one and two. Pompey have not played in front of more than 20,000 fans at any stage.
The highest attendance recorded at Fratton Park during that time was the 19,402 who attended this season’s 3-1 victory over Sunderland – the Blues’ biggest home crowd since the visit of Southampton in December 2011.
Away from home, Pompey’s meeting with Bradford at Valley Parade last season was watched by 19,554.
Meanwhile, trips to Charlton in 2017 and earlier this term attracted crowds of 16,361 and 14,451 respectively.