Where’s our famous atmosphere? What’s happened to Portsmouth’s partisan Fratton Park support

Charlton’s Sean Clare sensed it in the wake of his team’s televised victory at Fratton Park.

By Jordan Cross
Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 2:51 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 3:04 pm

‘I think we dealt with that really well,’ the Addicks midfielder on silencing the home crowd in his team’s 2-1 success in front of the Sky cameras.

‘We were able to keep the crowd quiet at times when they were getting behind them. I think it’s a credit to all the players out there.’

Portsmouth-raised Leeds fan, Tim Hoolahan, had a rather different perspective after attending the kind of night under the lights which has so often crackled down the years.

‘It’s nothing like the Pompey I know from growing up here,’ he wrote on social media.

‘I’ve always known Pompey fans to be some of the loudest outside the Prem - tonight was like tourists.

‘Me and four neutrals were louder than any home fans… feels so lost as a club that used to be hardcore.’

This wasn’t one-eyed trolling to get a bite from fans of other clubs on social media.

Some strong views are being aired about Fratton Park's current atmosphere.

The reason we know that wasn’t the case, is because it’s the kind of sentiment being echoed by many of Pompey’s own fanbase.

‘Hurts me to say Charlton fan singing ‘is this a library?’ was spot on,’ tweeted @mickpoth60.

‘Can we stop talking about the atmosphere at Fratton Park as well.’ added @adarkelimited. ‘There is literally no buzz.’

So what’s going on?

Pompey fans against Morecambe last month - the last win at Fratton Park.

Well, the obvious place to start is with what we’re watching.

The Charlton loss was the third loss in five games at PO4, with just victory coming over struggling Morecambe in that time.

After some powerful form at the end of last year, Danny Cowley’s men are also desperately struggling to find attacking fluency and potency with the patterns of their games stuck on repeat.

But Pompey have struggled more down the years and received fervent backing. In fact, some of the most famous home supporting moments have occurred against such a backdrop.

Of course, it’s generally perceived the Fratton faithful are at their best in those underdog moments, with their backs to the wall.

At third-tier level, however, Pompey remain a big fish and so often a target to be shot down - especially when other sides arrive on Portsea Island to enjoy their visit.

What can’t be ignored as a significant factor around the perceived drop-off in atmosphere, is the reality fans are watching their team sleepwalk towards a SIXTH season at this level - and 11TH successive campaign in the bottom tiers.

The team currently sit two points closer to the League One trapdoor than they do the top six.

Even after a wretched defeat at Bristol Rovers 12 months ago, Pompey were 10 points and eight places better off after the same amount of games under Kenny Jackett.

The threadbare state of the squad, investment on the pitch and frustration over the January transfer window are the three prongs currently being used to attack the club’s owners by fans, with Cowley’s frustrations barely veiled in the wake of Tuesday’s defeat.

The debate to be had on that subject will be played out more extensively in the coming days, but the ire surrounding those issues has palpably boiled to the surface one again - and is undoubtedly contributing to the increasingly audible murmurs of discontent at Pompey’s home.

A stadium which is part building site and ever-changing fan culture are other factors being aired and considered, with views split over their credibility.

Is it one issue? Is it a perfect storm of a number? Whatever the answer, hearing those who bleed royal blue searching their memories for the last time they heard the old girl at her rip-roaring best is a dispiriting experience.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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