The Long And Winding Road

Last updated : 25 September 2005 By Keith Allman
No bones about it, next month could be a bit of a testing one. Hopefully the media will move on to Everton and David Moyes as their next target instead but in the meanwhile Pompey are still the primary aim. Alain Perrin's first name on Sky Sports has now been changed to "Under Pressure" whilst we no longer live in Portsmouth; our city has had the word "Struggling" added to the front.

Irritatingly the home games ahead look like they could be a bit of a problem too. Newcastle a couple of weeks ago would've been a good laugh for all concerned with Graeme Souness and his side looking little better than a pub side - hilarious sendings off, missed chances, defenders colliding with goalposts - all the signs of a good match. Now with Michael Owen on board, however, they're starting to improve drastically (although Owen will hopefully still be haunted by a penalty miss at Fratton a couple of years ago and refuse to play). Even playing Charlton at Fratton in the middle of the month is a bit of a nightmare since we're still a good six months away from the start of their collapse and they're not actually doing that badly.

That's what's in line for the Fratton fans anyway. But what about those hardy souls who are on the road in October? Have you got your Pro-Plus ready? How do trips to Middlesbrough and Sunderland sound, the former of which being a 5:15 kick off? Good laugh eh! Only a combined distance for the pair of 1,396 miles! For some reason tickets are slow movers although I can't even begin to imagine why. Just thank the lord we got knocked out of the League Cup or it would've been a rock 'n' roll trip to Doncaster a few days before The Mackems too. Glory days.

Still, at least they're not consecutive - a couple of weeks to recover thrown into the middle. Surely the top five "Worst Fixtures" since we got promoted have to be;

1) Season 04/05, Everton away. An eight o'clock kick off on a Tuesday night just four days into the new year. Good idea Sky!
2) Less than a month before that a trip to Liverpool previously planned for August was put back to - guess what - another Tuesday night!
3) The season before that we played Everton away on the Saturday and then Liverpool away on the Wednesday! Good thinking!
4) Earlier that same season we faced a glorious week of Newcastle away on Saturday, Nottingham Forest away on Wednesday, then Manchester United away on Saturday. Good stuff.
5) Leeds at 11:30. What was that about?

What with Portsmouth fans comfortably travelling further than anyone else in the Premiership - a combined total of 4,208 miles and our "local derby" being Fulham a mere ninety miles away - you'd think the big wigs at Fixture List HQ (if there is such a place) might decide to spread these stupid long journeys months apart. But then you realise that actually pretty much every journey is stupidly long! Just imagine living in one of those gravy-loving northern outposts like Preston and Burnley where the majority of football league clubs are a lump of coal's throw away.

And to think that I've heard some fans from clubs like Birmingham complaining about coming to Fratton because it's one of their longest trips of the season. They're one of our shortest!