Authored by Max Bygraves
Pompey away, one of the best draws we could have asked for in this year’s Carling Cup 1st Round. As soon as the draw was made there were discussions about an overnight stay and once Morecambe got pulled out as the first league game, the idea of two stays at coastal places to kick the season off seemed a very good one.
Of course, this game fell during the absolute chaos in London and other parts of the country, as the scum truly crawled out from under their rocks and reeked havoc on England’s streets. For a small amount of time the night before and on the day of the game there was some doubt as to whether it would go ahead, after several other ties were called off due to lack of available police.
Thankfully the good people of Hampshire decided not to trash their city and it was game on and all systems go as we left for the South coast at about 11am, a little bleary eyed having been up half the night into the very small hours watching the shocking scenes on the news.
Five of us in the car, the tunes were being banged out and there was a ‘lets go and be silly’ vibe as we approached Portsmouth.
We couldn’t check in to our Travelodge immediately, so decided to park up and see what the city centre had to offer. As I’ve visited Portsmouth once or twice quite a few years back now, I decided I definitely knew how to get everywhere and after a lot of guess work, we did end up in Portsmouth’s little stretch of bars and pubs nearly the impressive Guildhall building.
The mini pub crawl began slightly before 2 and it wasn’t long before Jaeger bombs were being whacked out and the such-like. Much laughter was had in particular at the name of one bar called the Fuzzy Duck. Something about saying it in a funny voice, you had to be there, but I couldn’t not mention it in my story, sorry. DOWN THE FU’IN FUZZY DUCK, LIKE!
By about half five we were all fairly ‘relaxed’ from our afternoon session and decided it was time to get back to the hotel and get ready to head to Fratton Park. The stupidity in my room of three began pretty much when the key went through the door. One of the little scamps I was rooming with decided jumping from the desk onto the bed looked like fun. SNAP. Pretty sure that was broken, but we didn’t get charged.
Just before we sorted our taxi to the ground, we noticed an awful lot of smoke down on the sea front. Portsmouth now going off too? Thankfully it was unrelated to the general chaos elsewhere, but it was a worry momentarily.
We were at the ground by about 7, but after having to queue up for ages to sort our tickets and the fact there didn’t seem to be any pubs in close proximity, most of us went straight in, though some wrong ‘un decided getting a quick can of lager from the nearby Tesco was a shout. Just to give my voice that last bit of edge, you see.
The turnout from Barnet wasn’t bad, 300? A bit less? I’m not sure. Either way, from the off the noise was good...but not as good as what went on on the pitch. Barnet came out of the traps from the start and looked seriously good. Izale failed to capitalise when put through one on one, but we continued to apply pressure and on the half hour mark, got our reward.
Marshall fired in a fine cross, which Mark Hughes rose like a bloody salmon to guide into the bottom corner. Shame it was down the other end, but that didn’t stop people going pretty spare in the Barnet end. This was all a bit too good so far, surely we couldn’t maintain it?
Just before half time we thought, briefly, we were truly in dream land. Kamdjo bundled the ball in, only for the linesman’s flag to be raised. I’m not sure what for, assuming he was offside, there didn’t appear to be any foul play. Still, 0-1 away to a full strength Pompey team at half time, happy enough with that.
The second half didn’t see much of a change. Barnet were awesome. It was largely one way traffic, but we just couldn’t find that second goal which we would have thoroughly deserved.
Spirits were certainly high in the stand though. The ‘Final Countdown’ got possibly its greatest ever airing, lasting an awfully long time and involving a fair percentage of the travelling support. Quality. The noise was pretty relentless all the way through to be fair. The nerves weren’t quite like there like you’d expect, because we were absolutely bossing the game and looked the more likely to score. Of course, there was a bit of a wait for that whistle at the end where you feared the worst (this is Barnet, after all), but sure enough, we hung on for a seriously impressive cup scalp.
Great scenes at the end as the players came over to receive a well deserved ovation from the travelling support. What a performance! What a result! What next? I know one thing, let’s go and drink some alcohol!
We headed back to our hotel first off, as there was a pub downstairs there. We had a couple in there and sadly this saw two of the five show that they’re losing it in their old age and trot off to bed. The remaining three decided we’d have to go and see what Portsmouth had for us on a Tuesday night when there are no students there.
It wasn’t brilliant, I won’t lie, but it was a lot busier than it could have been and there were a fair few bars and clubs open. The drinks were almost offensively cheap too, so advantage did have to be taken. The Fuzzy Duck got a visit along the way and I believe we ended up in a club called Pure, or something like that, dancing to a track list that seemingly hadn’t been updated since about 2004, being played by a DJ who didn’t like to play a song for more than about 30 seconds. We made the best of it, though.
When we arrived back at our Travelodge in small hours, various silliness did continue to ensue. Incidents involving wheelchairs, almost accidentally setting things on fire, probably a bit too much male nudity and various other daft acts carried on until sleep time rolled around a little after 4am.
Felt better than I have the next morning, but it all felt well worth it. Who’d have thought it, two away wins to start the season and one of those being an absolute hammering of a Championship team who won the FA Cup just a few years ago. I said before the season started, I want this to be a fun one. Long may this continue...!