On Our Way launched Portsmouth's greatest promotion finish - now Blues hero Danny Rose senses a repeat
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Tomorrow marks three years since a 2-0 success at Crawley signalled the charge to the League Two title – and launched the ‘On Our Way’ song.
Renditions are still prominent at Blues fixtures during the current campaign, such is the longevity of a terrace tune which continues to retain relevance.
In March 2017, Paul Cook’s fifth-placed Pompey were 13 points adrift of long-time leaders Doncaster, with a game in hand.
Then arrived Crawley and a reshuffle consisting of recalls for Danny Rose and Carl Baker, while, for only the third time during the campaign, Kal Naismith was accommodated in the number 10 role.
The Blues’ positioning in the present climate is considerably more encouraging as they chase a potential second promotion in four seasons.
Occupying third place and five points short of Coventry in top spot, it’s little wonder ‘On Our Way’ remains such a popular presence.
Midfielder Rose these days represents Swindon, yet has returned to Fratton Park three times since the turn of the year to fulfil BBC Radio Solent commentary duties.
And he can hear strains of that familiar song.
He said: ‘Winning promotion is not always about playing the nice football and getting the results, it’s about efficiency.
‘I’ve watched Pompey over the last couple of weeks and it’s something which this group has.
‘From the League One football I have watched this season, Coventry are the best side, but there’s no reason why this Pompey side cannot maintain momentum at home and be resilient on their travels.
‘I’ve seen Scunthorpe and MK Dons visit Fratton Park and have more control of the game possession-wise, but whenever Kenny Jackett’s side have the ball they are far more efficient in attack. You know at the end of the move there’ll be a cross or a shot.
‘Opposition sides may enjoy possession perhaps too much, playing the ball side to side, yet Pompey can nullify them having two banks of four, with a number 10 sitting at the right time.
‘Not many Jackett teams will have 60-70 per cent possession and dominate the ball. Instead, the ball is won and played wide, with the full-backs getting involved, and it always seems to result with a cross or shot.
‘The manager has also been making changes and I don’t think the team has necessarily become that much weaker, which says a lot about the squad depth and squad quality.
‘Every player is fit at the moment and, with the schedule of games coming up, you can't ask for anything better. I think Pompey fans should be really optimistic.’
Following a 1-0 home defeat to Crewe during the 2016-17 campaign, the supporters had turned on their manager and team.
With 12 games remaining, Doncaster, Plymouth and Carlisle occupied the automatic promotion spots, while Cook’s team had spent just two separate weeks above fourth place.
In fairness, the Blues trailed third-placed Carlisle by two points with a match in hand, coincidentally a side they had defeated in Cumbria 3-0 a mere week earlier.
However, in the ugly aftermath of Crewe with a fanbase stirred, a midweek visit to Crawley represented a significant fixture for Pompey ambition – certainly it would prove pivotal.
Goals from Kyle Bennett and Christian Burgess in front of a 5,350 crowd at the Broadfield Stadium suddenly lifted Cook’s team into third position.
While the recalled Rose would net in subsequent 4-0 triumphs over Colchester and Grimsby as the Blues resurrected their promotion charge.
The 32-year-old added: ‘Three years ago we recorded 10 wins from our final 12 matches, which at any level is remarkable – and one which couldn’t have been timed any better.
‘The fans had vented their frustration following the Crewe defeat, which was understandable. Heading to Crawley, we knew we had to go on a run otherwise we’d have ended in and around the play-offs again. Or worse, dropped out.
‘We won there 2-0, but it never felt a catalyst at the time, I don’t remember thinking “Right, we’re going to do this now”. But that’s where it started – and the song began.
‘No-one had heard the ‘On Our Way’ chant before, I don’t know where it came from or who introduced it, but it stuck with us for the remainder of the season.
‘I know it’s a little cliched, but that’s what was needed at the time, we started to believe something special could happen, all the time hiding under the radar pretty well, which was helpful.
‘During my promotion season at Northampton, we were head and shoulders above everyone the whole time. Being league leaders comes with a different pressure, you go to every ground puffing your chest out and possessing an arrogance which people want to shoot down.
‘Whereas at Pompey we were chasing the whole time. Doncaster actually secured promotion with five games to go and then clearly switched off, you’re probably better off asking John Marquis about the mood around their camp at the time!
‘However, the stars seemed to align for us, it was meant to be. The scenes at Fratton Park after beating Cheltenham 6-1 will live with me for a long time. Winning promotion was great, to be champions on the last day topped it off.
‘That was an unbelievable squad of players put together by Cook, footballers the calibre of Enda Stevens, Michael Doyle, Matt Clarke, Gary Roberts, Kyle Bennett and Carl Baker.
‘It wasn’t actually the biggest squad, we were quite lucky with injuries, but there was so much quality.’
Pompey represented the fifth promotion of Rose’s career – and his favourite to date.
It began with the Conference South title with Newport County in 2009-10, followed by Conference Premier honours with Fleetwood in 2011-12.
During the 2015-16 League Two campaign, he featured for Oxford and Northampton, who would both earn automatic promotion,
Now the midfielder is part of a Swindon side which resides top of League Two by three points.
He added: ‘I’ve been lucky enough to have had a few promotions, some players go a whole career without them.
‘We are doing quite well trying to stay under the radar, but it’s difficult when you are top and have been in such a position since mid-to-late October, that’s a lot of pressure to carry.
‘Hopefully there’ll be promotion – and for my old club Pompey.’