What A Difference A Year Makes

Last updated : 24 November 2006 By Jim Bonner
"A year is a long time in football."

365 days ago yours truly wrote his first ever article for Fratton Faithful. Alain Perrin had just been relieved from his duties as manager of Portsmouth FC following a 3-0 defeat to Liverpool (and the others before that.) You can read my first article by clicking the link below.


The 364 days that have followed that first article have been nothing short of extraordinary. We have seen events involving Pompey that wouldn't even be seen in a soap opera. There have been lows, more lows, confusion, surprises, highs, ultimate joy, pain, anger and probably just about every other emotion you can think of from the day Perrin was sacked to the day where we lie 3rd in the Premiership after 13 games of the season.

So to mark my first anniversary of my time at Fratton Faithful I have outlined my personal list of the moments I feel have changed the face of Portsmouth Football Club since the 24th of November 2005 along with the links to the original stories I wrote.


#1 Harry Redknapp Returns To Portsmouth

Sometimes.... truth is stranger than fiction.

On the 8th of December 2005 Harry Redknapp completed perhaps the most controversial managerial transfer in the history of English Football. After falling out with Southampton chairman Rupert Lowe, Redknapp was re-united with Milan Mandaric who was willing to take a gamble on Harry getting us out of the deep trouble we were in. This is the same man who walked out on us for Southampton just over a year prior to re-joining the club he called his "spiritual home."

Pompey fans had time to prepare for the news with constant speculation before the event but once the return of Redknapp was confirmed, the fans were split right down the middle. Some fans were saying that he was the only man to save us from impending relegation and would put what he had done in the past behind them whilst others believed that "Judas" should never have set foot in Fratton Park again after his ultimate act of betrayal. I wonder what those fans think now?

It turns out that Milan made the right decision in the end, and though it seemed a very remote possibility last December, the fans are indeed chanting the name of Harry Redknapp.

Original Article: http://www.portsmouth-mad.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=255321

#2 Alexandre Gaydamak Takes Co-Control Of Portsmouth FC

When rumours initially surfaced of Pompey getting taken over by a Russian millionaire they were met with much scepticism with some fans even laughing the suggestions off. However the speculation grew and grew, the fans' curiousity turned into anticipation as it turned out that the rumours were true.

On the 6th of January 2006 it was confirmed that French-Russian Businessman Alexandre Gaydamak; son of billionaire Arcadi Gaydamak had bought 50% of Portsmouth Football Club and he became the club's joint owner with Milan Mandaric. "Sacha" claimed that he chose to invest in Pompey because he liked the football the team played (on the whole! We were a bit dire in 2005!) He loved the passion of the Pompey fans and he felt that he could bring the city of Portsmouth many benefits within the community too.

Sacha instantly made an impact on Harry's shopping list with influential figures such as Sean Davis, Pedro Mendes, Andres D'Alessandro and new record signing Benjani Mwaruwari joining the club. It's probably fair to assume that without Gaydamak's investment we'd be playing in the Championship right now. Sacha has done great things for the club in his relatively short spell at Fratton Park and here's hoping the great work will continue in 2007.

Original Article: http://www.portsmouth-mad.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=260271

#3 Pedro Mendes' Last-Minute Volley

Sacha's investment into the club had initially not paid dividends as results on the pitch continued to be bad. These results included a 5-0 thrashing at relegation rivals Birmingham and probably the most dire football match I have ever seen at Villa Park where we also lost 1-0. That result left us 8 points from safety and every pundit had written us off, expecting Pompey to be playing Coca-Cola football the next season. Those few Pompey fans who did believe we could still stay up knew that the next game at home to Manchester City was the last chance saloon. Anything other than a victory, and we were finished.

So come Saturday 11th of March 2006. Pompey and City played out a goaless first half and left our whole season hinging on 45 minutes of football. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Pedro Mendes hammered a scorcher from Andres D'Alessandro's in the 60th minute to put Pompey ahead. It looked if so we would hang on but when Richard Dunne headed in 7 minutes from time it looked all over. Some fans slumped, others walked away accepting our fate as the rest kept roaring the team on for one final push.

With just 10 seconds of stoppage time to go a D'Alessandro corner was half-cleared by the City defence. Mendes took the ball from Bradley Wright-Phillips and smashed in another volley from 30 yards to send Fratton Park absolutely mental! A jubilant Jim was dancing around the Southern Enclosure as that memorable goal etched Pedro Mendes into Fratton Park folklore. I will certainly never forget that goal and I doubt anyone else who saw it will either! That goal provided a catalyst for a superb run of results including a 4-2 win at West Ham, a 3-1 win at Fulham and two vital but nervous home wins against Middlesbrough and Sunderland. It's safe to say that without this wondergoal from Mendes, the following "Great Escape" run would never have taken place.

Original Article: http://www.portsmouth-mad.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=272111

#4 Wigan Away: The Great Escape Is Complete

Following a great run of results, Pompey fans travelled to Wigan's JJB Stadium for the first time on Saturday 29th of April 2006 knowing that a victory for us coupled with a result for Newcastle against Birmingham would mean we would be 100% certain to play in the Premiership next season.

As you all have probably heard 1,000 times now, the game didn't start well as Henri Camara put Wigan ahead after having a goal disallowed earlier in the game. The second half was a different story however as Benjani scored his first goal for the club and soon after Gary Teale was sent off for a handball in the box. Matty Taylor converted the penalty and Pompey held on for the win.

Then it was confirmed that Birmingham were held to a 0-0 draw by Newcastle and the North Stand erupted into scenes of ecstasy as 5,200 blew the roof off after Premiership survival had been confirmed. The scenes were surreal as around 3,000 Pompey fans flooded the pitch as the others stayed in the stands waving things like blow-up dolls. After singing virtually every Pompey song known to man the pitch invaders were ushered into the stand as the great escape artists and the masterminds behind it all made their way onto the pitch in sheer delight. The memories that day holds will never be forgotten by me as it was a truly unforgettable moment in the history of Portsmouth Football Club and one that has undoubtedly shaped a positive future for all involved with it.

Original Article: http://www.portsmouth-mad.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=280925

#5 The Summer Transfer Window

Here's a statistic for you:

In the past year a total of 18 players have come into the club whilst 26 have left Fratton Park (albeit some temporarily). That's an amazing number of players, even for Harry Redknapp!

Harry has managed to revolutionize the Pompey squad in the year he has been here. Out has gone dross such as Sander Westerveld, Laurent Robert, John Viafara and Azar Karadas and in have come genuine quality players like David James, Sol Campbell, Pedro Mendes and Benjani. What has impressed me more is the inspired gambles Harry was prepared to take. Kanu has to be Premiership signing of the season so far. D'Alessandro was a big hit too.

The transfer window has always been an exciting time for Pompey fans but it's safe to say that the players Harry has brought in this summer have really raised the profile of the club and although some are yet to prove their worth, once given time I'm sure that they will produce. Securing the futures of key players like Taylor, Mendes and O'Neil has also been vital for Pompey and if we can bring in even more quality in January, then dreams may become reality.

Original Article: http://www.portsmouth-mad.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=296150

#6 Pompey Go Top Of The Premiership

The start of the 2006/2007 could not have gone any better for Pompey.

A 3-0 opening day thrashing of Blackburn gave fans a taste of what has been a very successful season to date. Although we finished the day on the top we were soon knocked off by Man United on the Sunday. What followed the Blackburn result was a hard-fought stalemate at Man City that will be remembered for Ben Thatcher's act of thuggery, a 4-0 thumping of Middlesbrough on their own patch, a gritty 1-0 win over Wigan and then another 1-0 win at The Valley which has historically been a bogey ground for us.

The win at Charlton put us clear at the top of the Premiership for the first time and we had earnt that status on merit. Pompey hadn't conceded a single goal until after that game whilst our strikers kept banging them in. It was a moment for all Portsmouth fans to be proud of and it signified that we were going to be ones to watch this season. The memories of last season's struggles are already forgotten as the new era has well and truly started.

Original Article: http://www.portsmouth-mad.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=298789

#7 Milan Mandaric Leaves Portsmouth

It was the official end of an era when Milan Mandaric left Portsmouth Football Club on the 25th of September 2006 when he watched his club for the last time where unfortunately we were beaten 1-0 by Bolton Wanderers. It was expected that Milan would leave after Sacha bought his half of the club in July, therefore ending an unforgettable eight year tenure at the helm of Portsmouth FC.

Mandaric had been made non-executive chairman at Fratton Park when he sold his share of the club to Gaydamak however he decided that he didn't really feel involved and so said his final goodbye at the Bolton game. His legacy at this club will never be forgotten as he saved Pompey from exctinction and then helped transform us into a Premiership side that's now going places. Sure he made mistakes, but then everyone does. There is no denying that Mandaric is a Pompey legend.

It now remains to be seen if Milan does become the new owner of Leicester City. Despite my dislike for the Foxes I would wish Mandaric all the best in whatever he does in the future.

Original Article: http://www.portsmouth-mad.co.uk/news/loadnews.asp?cid=TMNW&id=299515

On a final, personal note.

It's certainly been a learning curve for myself since I took over at Fratton Faithful. On reflection, I think I have certainly got better at writing as I look back at some of my earlier articles and think "What the hell was I doing there!?" I'm happy with the way I have developed my skills and I have really enjoyed my time as Fratton Faithful Editor. Hopefully I can continue doing my job to the high standard you readers deserve and improve even more. It's not easy juggling University work around updating the site almost daily, but as I say, it's a job I enjoy.

Finally, I have to say a big thank you to every one of you who visits Fratton Faithful to read my rantings. Whether you just skim through looking for the latest news or if you take the time to read everything I write. I also want to thank everyone who uses the Fratton Faithful messageboard as it's you guys who make it one of the busiest Pompey boards on the web. I also thank everyone who has written/writes a guest column for me and everyone who has sent me feedback on my work, or just to give me their own view personally.

Here's to another year at the helm!