The reality matches up to to the legend: Portsmouth hero and former Birmingham City, Millwall and Wolves favourite on a never-to-be-forgotten night etched in Fratton folklore

Steve Claridge has awoken memories of one of the most special nights in Pompey’s history.

Friday, 8th October 2021, 2:00 pm
Updated Friday, 8th October 2021, 2:42 pm
Steve Claridge celebrates his goal against Stockport in 1998. Pic: Steve Reid

The former Blues striker has relived the legendary evening against Stockport County in 1998, which has its place etched in the club’s folklore.

Claridge has taken to Twitter to speak of the ‘magical’ night where ‘reality does match up the legend’ at Fratton Park.

The Portsmouth-born favourite was the man who got the only goal of the game at the famous ‘wall of noise’ clash against County, as the 8,622 fans present roared their rock-bottom team on to victory.

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Steve Claridge in Pompey colours

Sensing their side needed fan backing more than ever after nine winless games, a chant of ‘Alan Ball’s blue and white army’ reverberated around Fratton Park throughout the night.

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Claridge’s 15th-minute goal - his first for the club - made the difference with the backing building to an incessant crescendo which didn’t relent.

With Pompey seven points adrift at the bottom of the Division One table, the win sparked a run of five wins and a draw which would drive Ball’s side to a Great Escape completed on the final day at Bradford, as Reading, Stoke and Manchester City were condemned to the third tier.

Twitter page Forgotten Pompey Goals gave the ex-Blues boss the platform to air his emotions, as they carry out a World Cup-style knockout competition of fans’ favourite finishes from down the years.

Patrik Berger’s sensational finish against Charlton in 2004 was matched with Claridge’s goal and grabbed 80 per cent of the vote, prompting Claridge to afford some perspective.

He wrote: ‘Just wanted to say of course his (Berger’s) goal was better.

‘It’s a fantastic strike, but I bet the hairs on the back of his neck don’t stand on end when he thinks about it – 8,200(sic) know his was wonderful but mine was magical.

Claridge then replied to another tweet on the atmosphere that night, as he said: ‘Hard to describe if you weren’t there.

‘Two pretty average sides, on a horrible rainy Tuesday night and everything seemed to come together, the players and fans alike to create something very special - and this time the reality does match up to the legend.’

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