Where was the '˜luxury' on Pompey away days?

The present away football fan really is living the dream.

Saturday, 4th June 2016, 2:00 pm
Pompey fans prepare for the road on a 'luxury coach'

Comparing his lot with his forefather of yesteryear, is akin to comparing a modern day, highly manicured and preened premiership icon, to that of one of his rougher, readier, stouter, football league predecessors.

Greater car ownership. Improved road and rail networks. Cheap air travel. Discounted tickets, group travel, railcards and the internet.

All of these give the modern day fan many more options when deciding the best or cheapest way of getting to the match.

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Back in the day (seventies and eighties) when I went to many Pompey away games, most fans would travel by coach.

Coach firms would advertise their fleet as ‘luxury coaches’.

I excursed to football by coach for five or six years.

I would not describe any of the vehicles I travelled on as being luxury.

What was a luxury was being in the company of like-minded, blue-blooded fellow die-hardened Pompey fans.

The list of characters on board was endless.

The coach I travelled on was run from the Monkton Public house, Copnor, by a gentleman called Martin Fooks.

Fooksy ran a coach to every away game from the mid to late seventies (and beyond).

This was a time of great financial strife and football was not fashionable.

The government had played their part in down grading the status of the national game.

Football fans were painted as being all bad people, many with a hooligan tendencies.

Although it’s not my intention to make any political comment in this column, I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention the huge debt owed by football fans everywhere to the magnificent Hillsborough campaign.

Fought by normal fans, in the name of 96 of their fellowship.

Their super human tenacity for 27 years, earned them the greatest result in the history of the beautiful game. The truth.

Meanwhile, back in the 70s when supporting Pompey was becoming even more unfashionable, Fooksy almost single handedly fanned the embers of the city’s dwindling away support.

Although the Fox (Leigh Park), Ted Burridge (Fareham) and the Gosport boys all ran coaches at that time, it was Fooksy who harnessed that support.

During this period our financially stricken club had fallen into division four, for the first time in its history.

Half full coaches to games, put financial strain on Fooksy.

During those tough times, he always reiterated we all must keep the faith.

This mantra would become his catchphrase.

Keep the faith we did in the 80s.

Three promotions took Pompey into division one.

Half full coaches were filled, then doubled, tripled and more.

Fooksy’s army had grown to such an extent, that British Rail were recruited to enable Fooksy’s expanding legions to travel on masse.

On Tuesday, October 28 1980, Fooksy took three over booked trains to Liverpool for a league cup tie.

Older Liverpool fans still talk of the one and only time they witnessed the Kop being out sung, and over shadowed by the 9,000 travelling Pompey fans.

Every time I walked down Wembley way, with my three sons, in the midst of that noisy, chiming blue army, I thanked God, for the faith the Fooksy kept.