Why Pompey's blank Boxing Day means a Fratton Park era has ended for many

So that's it then. The seat I've sat on for just over a quarter of a century will not be sat upon again. I was supposed to park myself in it this afternoon to see Pompey take on Oxford, but Covid had other ideas.

By Steve Bone
Sunday, 26th December 2021, 12:30 pm
A full moon peers over the North Stand and its occupants / Picture: Joe Pepler
A full moon peers over the North Stand and its occupants / Picture: Joe Pepler

I, along with everyone else at he western end of the North Lower, will be moved to another part of the ground in January, and for the rest of the season, while redevelopment takes place. Then, as I understand it, the new section will be finished in time for the start of next season – though whether we will be able to move back to the same rows and seat numbers, I am unsure.

Even if the number and letter does revert to the one I have now, and have had ever since Leyton Orient were seen off in the first home game of the Terry Venables era on a balmy night in August 1996, the actual seat will be different, so for me, as it turns out, the December 7 goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday, the last home game I went to, was the end of an era. Others may feel the same about whichever game for which they last sat in their seats.

I have long dreaded the day we found out our current seats would no longer be where we watched the team from, because at various times it has seemed possible, sometimes even likely, that this would mean a move away from Fratton Park. Happily, the current thinking is that we are staying at PO4, in the heart of the city, and I could not be more pleased about that.

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So as I come to terms with the end of my seat's days, I can't help humanising the bit of blue plastic and thinking back to all it has seen. An awful lot when you think about it.

It has been there to see goals scored by players who have passed away, like Alan McLoughlin; for saves made by a goalkeeper no longer with us, Aaron Flahavan.

It has been there to see pitch invasions against unwanted owners, and it probably fondly remembers looking directly across to its counterpart in the South Lower when Toddy dived into the Fratton and got us promotion to the Premier League, then 11 evenings later when Merse was chaired around the pitch after we won the first division title. I think I stood on it on both those occasions, for which I apologise to it.

It's seen the entire seven years of our Premier League life. It's experienced us beating Man Utd, Liverpool and Spurs, all more than once. It's seen AC Milan arrive and have 'Are you Bournemouth in disguise?' sung to them as they went 2-0 down then somehow scraped a draw.

My seat has witnessed three relegations in four seasons and has seen people all around standing up singing 'We will never die' not knowing if there'd ever be another game for the team and all the other blue seats to savour. There was, as it turned out. Plenty more.

It's seen four seasons in League Two culminating in that remarkable occasion against Cheltenham, and it has seen plenty of other matches and moments that fall in between all those highs and lows but are no less a part of our past.

It's not been a dull 25 and a half seasons for my seat and I hope it has soaked up every moment and every great occasion. What a shame it was robbed of a last chance to see us beat Oxford. I even had a Santa suit lined up for use 20 minutes from the end if needed.

I wonder if my next seat will serve for another 25 years and if it does, what it will see. As many extremes of joy and agony as its predecessor? I don't know but I hope it has me sitting in it for a good proportion of whatever entertainment awaits it.

Read Steve Bone's Pompey ramblings in the Sports Mail (back on January 2) and the Pompey programme

Get in touch: [email protected] / Twitter: @stevebone1