Portsmouth FC ‘v’ Plymouth Argyle FC Friday 14th April – Good Friday at Fratton Park. It seemed a decent match to attend and luckily we would get the opportunity to do so. Andy Skerry who trains at both Portsmouth & Crofton Karate Clubs had, through his company ‘Air Link Compressed Air Systems’ booked a table in the Hospitality Suite at Fratton Park and had invited several SEKU members and friends along. We were due to meet at the Shepherds Crook public house adjacent to the football ground at 12 noon. We missed the meet due to heavy traffic and went directly to the ground. Where we were directed to our table by smartly dressed waitresses who looked after us throughout, we had a marvellous three course meal and copious amounts of beer and wine.
In addition to the corporate table, Andy’s company had sponsored todays Match Ball and just prior to kick – off, the whole group of us at the table were to go down to the pitch-side in order to present the ball and pose for photos with some of the players who also signed our match programmes. We were then escorted to our seats in the South Stand that commanded a fine view of the pitch.
Portsmouth ‘v’ Plymouth, for obvious reasons, is known as the ‘Dockyard Derby’ and both teams and sets of fans have always been great rivals (although nothing like the intensity of the feeling for each other between Pompey and Southampton my apologies to the ardent Pompey fan for mentioning that swear word) The Pompey fans are renown for being vivacious/raucous and the atmosphere was brilliant and noise level well up there. Both Pompey and Plymouth were in the top three and candidates for promotion and the game was hard fought and very competitive on the pitch with the Pompey fans winning the battle in the stands. In the event the game finished with an honourable draw with a goal each, the next game would see both teams promoted to the next level.
After the match we returned to our table in the ‘Partners Lounge’ and continued where we had left off, and enjoyed revisiting the various incidents that made the match a memorable one. The lounge closed and we left the football ground to relocate in the Shepherds Crook just outside the ground, Andy had kindly presented the replica match ball to me and it become my responsibility for the rest of the evening. As you can imagine the Shepherds Crook was rather noisy and a bit of a mess following a hard fought match with a reasonable result so we decided to move on. Paul Wilson Sensei to the Junior section of the Portsmouth Karate Club is also a cab driver/owner in Pompey so he had some ‘clout’ and a taxi was soon delivering us to the Jolly Taxpayer near to the abode of Stacey Crowe, also Instructor to the Portsmouth Club. This proved to be a good move as Stacey was feeling the effects of an exciting day (or was it overindulgence?) and had to go home early! The group then broke up with Paul and Rick moving on to The Pelham Arms. Me, Alan Lewis (Instructor to Crofton SKC) Malcolm Smith and Any Skerry travelling out of town to my local the George at the top of Portsdown Hill.
It was a good day (and long) and the entire party are grateful to Andy for giving us the opportunity to attend and he has intimated that he would like to repeat the exercise again next season – well I’m up for it.