Since The Millennium: Pompey's Seasons Worst To Best: Part I

Last updated : 19 May 2018 By Jim Bonner

It has taken some time, but this is the next topic of the Pompey Since The Millennium feature following the best and worst Portsmouth teams since the turn of the 21st century.

Each season from 1999/2000 has been ranked from the absolute worst to the absolute best. Part one of this feature covers the worst of the worst and may bring back some terrible memories.

Here are the worst seasons in Pompey's modern history:

19th) 2012/2013: 24th in League One

The three worst seasons in Pompey's recent history are as close as this season's relegated dross from the Premier League as a comparison for quality and any of them could have taken bottom spot.

However, it has been decided that the season that was largely spent with the club in administration and fans wondering if Pompey were going to die whilst enduring the worst run of results in the club's history is the absolute worst of the worst, and that's saying a lot.

Yes, there was one particular highlight when the Trust bought the club, the points deduction was confirmed for that season (and in hindsight Pompey needed that) and the Blues went on to thrash Sheffield United 3-0 at Fratton Park whilst laughing at Dave Kitson's sorry showing that day.

But as good as that day was, the vast majority of Portsmouth's first season back in the third tier since the early 80's was an absolute nightmare.

Enduring a record-equalling nine straight defeats, a run which included a 5-0 thrashing at Swindon on New Year's Day and pathetic home performances against Hartlepool and Colchester, was bad enough. But that run came towards the end of a record breaking 23 game streak without a victory.

Having a ridiculous turnover of players that season and Michael Appleton walking out for Blackpool of all clubs certainly didn't help matters. Izale McLeod was Pompey's top scorer with ten goals that season and he left on January 3rd!

The 2012/2013 season was an abomination of a campaign and should be a reminder of how far Portsmouth has come since the darkest days in the club's history. Anyone moaning about the season just gone just needs to remind themselves of 2012 and the three years that followed to regain some perspective.

Season Highlights

  • Winning at Crewe to finally end the worst run of results in the club's history. Fans celebrated as if the F.A. Cup had been won and nobody could blame them.
  • Beating Sheffield United 3-0 at Fratton Park when Pompey had finally been bought and were out of administration.

Season Lowlights

  • Pretty much the rest of the season. The 5-0 at Swindon and the home defeats to Colchester and Hartlepool have been mentioned but a shout out to the 1-0 loss at Oldham when Sam Sodje absolutely did not deliberately get himself sent off after punching Lee Barnard in the balls.
  • Having to watch a team containing Brian Howard, Darel Russell, Carl Dickinson (again) and Yassin Moutaouakil week in, week out.

18th) 2013/2014: 13th in League Two

Guy Whittingham had brought some respect back to Portsmouth at the tail end of the previous season but found League Two to be a rude awakening and the majority of the players he recruited just weren't up to the task.

The Pompey legend was eventually sacked after struggling but came after ended up even worse. Enter Richie Barker, arguably the worst Pompey manager in history and he certainly has some tough competition.

At least when Pompey lost under Whittingham it was occasionally having played some open football but Barker's style was a whole new level of diabolical dross. This pathetic excuse for football produced such results as a 1-0 home defeat to lowly Torquay, a 5-1 hammering at Scunthorpe and a humiliating but expected 3-0 defeat at Rochdale on a Tuesday night.

Thankfully the board saw sense as the threat of relegation to non-league was very real and so Barker was binned and Andy Awford was brought in to repair the damage. Five straight wins later and the job was done but this was a massive wake up call for any Pompey fan thinking the bottom tier was going to be a cakewalk.

Still, it's easy to see why this Pompey team struggled when you look at some of the players in the squad. John Sullivan, Yassin Moutaouakil, Ben Chorley, Ryan Bird and Tom Craddock to name just a few to send a shiver down the spine. At least Jed Wallace emerged as a genuine talent and was the top scorer in the team despite only bagging seven goals.

That proves what a wretched time the 2013/2014 season was. Nobody will want to remember it and it only just avoids being the worst campaign in Pompey's recent history.

Season Highlights

  • A few entertaining wins at Fratton Park under Whittingham, including 3-0 victories over Morecambe and Rochdale as well as a 3-2 triumph over Exeter.
  • Not a highlight as such, but nobody who was there will forget the Wycombe game being abandoned due to a biblical downpour which flooded Fratton Park.
  • Barker getting sacked and Awford's seven game unbeaten run to take Pompey from the brink of relegation to mid-table security. That run contained the inexplicable 4-4 draw at Bury with Pompey 3-0 down and 4-2 down at one point, scoring two late goals to rescue it.

Season Lowlights

  • Oxford party poopers winning 4-1 on the opening day to bring everyone back down to earth after the euphoria of the Trust taking over.
  • The harrowing 4-2 defeat at York which featured arguably the worst ever performance by a Portsmouth goalkeeper. A catalogue of errors which John Sullivan's career would never recover from.
  • Losing 4-0 at AFC Wimbledon with Trevor Carson saving a penalty to prevent the score being even worse.
  • Richie Barker. His attitude, his signings, his tactics, his style of football and the way he treated the supporters was unforgivable.

17th) 2014/2015: 16th in League Two

Statistically, this was the worst season in Pompey's history as they finished 84th in the Football League pyramid, their lowest finish ever. The only reason this campaign isn't the worst in modern history is because the club was stable and was in no real danger of relegation.

The football was mostly dreadful, though. Andy Awford's team were woeful on the road as impotent Pompey could only score a paltry six goals on the road until February 21st when, surprisingly, they scored the same amount of goals in one match at Cambridge.

That was a rare highlight in a season full of dross. Pompey were doubled by football superpowers such as AFC Wimbledon, Newport County, Shrewsbury Town, Southend United and Bury. However, the season bottomed out when Portsmouth were knocked out of the F.A. Cup by non-league opposition for the first time after losing to Aldershot, marking yet another unwanted record in the club's history.

Awford didn't last the season and some fans began to turn on the Trust who hadn't delivered any sort of success as the club struggled to come to terms with League Two. Gary Waddock took charge for the rest of this dreadful campaign with supporters worrying that the board would take the cheap option and hire him permanently.

Speaking of dreadful, the revolving turnstile of terrible players kept turning as the likes of Craig Westcarr, Cole Kpekawa, Alex Wynter, Nick Awford and Paul McCallum all stole a living at Fratton Park. At least Jed Wallace provided some spark and Conor Chaplin scored his first goal for the Blues in what was a dire season for Pompey fans to suffer. 

Season Highlights

  • A good start and being fairly formidable at home gave the fans some false hope as winter soon turned Pompey's season for the worse.
  • The 6-2 win at Cambridge will always be remembered by anyone who was there. Jed Wallace and Matt Tubbs were on fire that day.
  • The 3-2 comeback win over Tranmere in the following match wasn't bad, either.
  • The 1-1 draw with York signifying the end of such a torrid season.

Season Lowlights

  • One win in eight following a good start to the season, followed by excruciatingly bad performances at Bury, Plymouth and Tranmere.
  • A harrowing 1-0 defeat to Aldershot in the F.A. Cup replay which showed that Awford had lost the dressing room.
  • Not content with being terrible on the road, the Pompey players also reproduced these terrible performances at home with a 3-2 defeat to Accrington and a 2-0 defeat to Wimbledon at the end of 2014.
  • The first half of 2015 in general, with a 3-1 defeat to Morecambe being the summit of the mountain of shit that Pompey fans had to put up with.

16th) 2011/2012: 22nd in Championship

Following a solid but unspectacular first season back in the second tier following relegation from the Premier League, things were only set to get worse with more ownership problems and threats of the club ceasing to exist as Pompey floundered under incompetent leadership on and off the pitch.

The squad was revamped and the summer vibes were positive but fans had already began to get fed up with Cotterball before Steve Cotterill was allowed to leave for Nottingham Forest rather than be likely sacked soon after.

The shit really hit the fan when Vladimir Antonov was arrested and owners CSI were placed into administration, with Pompey soon following suit and facing a massive turnover in players to save money with the club's existence in the balance.

That meant new manager Michael Appleton struggled to build a team capable of surviving in the Championship with a ten point deduction. There were a few highlights but ultimately a nine game winless run in February and March meant the damage was done.

The real battle would be between Portpin and the PST for control of the club with Andrew Andronikou and Trevor Birch playing their parts for their respective sides. The fact that Southampton couldn't beat Pompey despite this chaos speaks volumes in what was otherwise very much a season to forget for the Fratton faithful.

Season Highlights

  • Erik Huseklepp's stunning late winner against Blackpool at Fratton Park.
  • Hammering Steve Cotterill's Forest 3-0 at Fratton Park despite the deluded ex-Pompey manager claiming that they had battered Pompey.
  • The 3-0 win at Peterborough which was a class counter-attacking performance and many younger fans' first taste of terracing at a football ground.
  • The 4-3 robbery at Doncaster which sent the home team down whilst preserving Pompey's Championship status for another week.
  • That David Norris goal at St. Mary's.

Season Lowlights

  • Pompey's future constantly in doubt with yet more dodgy owners and an incompetent C.E.O. in David Lampitt meant all fans were genuinely worried for their club's survival.
  • Losing to Barnet 1-0 at Fratton Park in the League Cup. Be honest, you'd forgotten about that, hadn't you?
  • Heartless away performances at Derby, Watford, Barnsley and Reading whilst conceding twice late on to lose at Cardiff was also tough to take.
  • The 5-1 home thrashing by Burnley as Pompey collapsed.
  • Relegation being confirmed and the feeling of dread that came after it.

15th) 2009/2010: 20th in Premier League

This was the season which heralded the beginning of the worst period in Portsmouth Football Club's history. If it wasn't for the remarkable F.A. Cup run, this season may well have ranked bottom of them all.

Where to begin? Sulaiman Al-Fahim's buffoonery? Ali Al-Faraj? Balram Chainrai's "emotional attachment" to the club he dismantled in hopes of recouperating money owed from previous associates? Hiring convicted fraudster Daniel Azougy to handle the club's finances? The Premier League placing a transfer embargo on the club?

And that's just the issues off the pitch! Let's not forget that Pompey lost their first seven games of the season, still a Premier League record today (although Crystal Palace now share it) and had to put up with Paul Hart in charge before he was sacked in favour of Avram Grant who did his best to steady a sinking ship but had no chance to stem the tide of shit coming his way.

Still, despite everything going wrong both on and off the pitch, the fans could rejoice in getting to another F.A. Cup Final having thrashed Southampton and beaten Harry Redknapp's Tottenham on the way. If only Kevin-Prince Boateng had scored that penalty...

Season Highlights

  • Very little in the league, but beating Wolves to end the worst start to a Premier League season was sweet as was the 4-0 win over Wigan on Halloween and the 2-0 win over Liverpool in December.
  • Avram Grant's "You'll never break our spirit" speech after beating Wolves on the last home game of the season.
  • The whole F.A. Cup run from snatching late goals at Coventry, to Demolition Derby II at St. Mary's, to the atmosphere and victory over Birmingham at Fratton Park and culminating in an improbable but emotional win over Tottenham and their ex-Portsmouth contingent at Wembley when everyone had written Pompey off.

Season Lowlights

  • Administration following a run of some of the worst owners in football history and all the furore that followed, signalling the beginning of the worst period in Portsmouth's history.
  • Losing the first seven games of the season and having to endure Paul Hart's prehistoric brand of football.
  • Losing 24 games in the league season, including a 5-0 thrashing at Old Trafford containing a hat-trick of own goals and a 5-0 home defeat to Chelsea.

14th: 2000/2001: 20th in Division One

This is pushing the memory now but this season will mainly be remembered for Tony Pulis falling out with Milan Mandaric before being put on gardening leave and then sacked.

Steve Claridge took over and despite some initial success, a run of only two wins in nineteen games saw Pompey plummet towards the relegation zone. Claridge stepped down and Graham Rix was appointed to almost universal disapproval due to being a sex offender.

Rix managed to keep a team containing the likes of Darren Moore, Lee Bradbury and a young Gary O'Neil in the second tier but only on the final day courtesy of a 3-0 win over Barnsley, having lost a crunch relegation encounter with Crystal Palace the game before.

Season Highlights

  • Claridge beginning his reign with three straight wins, making some fans believe a corner had been turned. Four straight draws followed before the wheels came off.
  • The 3-0 win over Barnsley to confirm Division One survival when all seemed bleak beforehand.

Season Lowlights

  • The infamous 4-2 defeat to Crystal Palace on the penultimate matchday of the season. A win would have seen Pompey safe but they capitulated and looked like they were going to get relegated.
  • The 4-0 thrashing at Ewood Park in the League Cup, meaning less than 3,000 fans bothered turning up for the second leg of the tie, which was drawn 1-1.
  • Having to watch Carl Tiler try and play professional football.

Stay tuned, part two is coming soon!