Seventh Heaven

Last updated : 30 September 2007 By Jim Bonner

Neville Dalton is a journalist with the BBC News website and a Portsmouth fan of 40 years. His expressed views are his and not necessarily those of the BBC.

I've not been sleeping too well lately.

I've been waking up in a sweat, having the most bizarre dreams - or were they nightmares?

Sometimes I even get both during the same night.

Here's what I can remember from when I woke up on Sunday.

Oh my God! I was sitting in my normal seat at Fratton Park, surrounded by my normal companions.

But that was all that was normal about it.

We were playing some Premier League team (I think) - decent enough, especially going forward - but nothing extraordinary. They're not going to win the league or anything.

Besides, we'd been pretty comfortable at the back in recent weeks, keeping clean sheets in two tough league games as well as away in the cup.

But while we seemed to have the opposition under control, the most ludicrous events unfolded.

It all started when some Pompey fans began that ridiculous chant that always - but always - gifts the opposition a goal.

"Ee-zy; ee-zy," started springing up from three-and-a quarter sides of the ground.

Sure enough, this mediocre team launched another attack, carved their way through a midfield and defence so alien to the one I'd been watching recently, and despite David James' best efforts, managed to force the ball over the line at the third attempt.

But it got worse. You see, Pompey fans like living dangerously and seem oblivious to the consequences of tempting fate so brazenly.

So they started telling their counterparts in two-thirds of the Milton End: "You might as well go home."

It had the inevitable effect: another slice through our once-impregnable back line; Jamo comes rushing out of his goal like a man possessed, prevents Big Sol Campbell from getting in a proper challenge; the two nearly collide and some red-haired giant rams the ball in from the most oblique of angles.

And on it went. No more unjustified taunts from the Pompey fans, but still we invited our opponents to attack. We might as well have laid out the Welcome mat in the D in front of the penalty area.

They just drove forward and tried their luck with shots from all angles.

A couple of deflections here and there and Colin Blant's Your Uncle - four goals conceded.

At home.

With our best defence in living memory.

Sol Campbell.

Sylvain Distin.

David James.

I woke up in a sweat, as you can imagine, consoling myself that it couldn't have been true.

I even have this sneaking feeling at the back of my mind that Jamo even had time to save a penalty. Just think - four - and nearly five goals conceded at Fratton.

Nah. That's never going to happen.

I woke up with a start.

You know what it's like - you know you've been dreaming and you sort of know it was great.

Like really great.

But you know it's too good to be true. And you can't put your finger on what triggered it.

This was even more surreal, though.

As I watched Pompey string together immaculate pass after immaculate pass, racing from one end of the pitch to the other in no time at all, I could have sworn I was back watching our Division One championship-winning team, taking all and sundry apart with slick passing, time on the ball and playing as near as damn it total football.

All that seemed to be missing was Paul Merson, orchestrating it all.

But wait - there was something different about this. We were tearing a team apart all right - and scoring some absolutely magnificent goals.

But this team we were playing were a Premier League side. They even finished above Pompey last season.

What was going on?

Even in my dream, there had to be a touch of realism. I'm a Pompey fan after all, so I sat back (OK, on the edge of my seat), waiting for the sky to fall in on us.

But it didn't.

OK, we let in a few goals (what's a few goals when you score nearly twice as many yourself?).

But everything was OK. The plucky opposition (for they wouldn't give up, whether in injury time at the end of the first half or in time added on at the end of the 90 minutes) were awarded a penalty.

But you just knew David James was going to save it. Of course he did.

And then Sean Davis tried his luck from way outside the penalty area again. Nothing new there.

Only this time you just knew it was going to take a huge deflection and end up in the back of the net, where the ball seemed to spend most of the game. It did.

I saw left-backs race up the wing and fire in pinpoint crosses to be headed home.

I saw a giant of a man resembling a wardrobe break up attack after attack; make tackle after tackle and play accurate passes, short and long - to players in space.

I saw a footballer who could only be described as a magician, such were the things he made happen, tearing a bunch of Premier League players apart with his quality control, immaculate passing, acceleration, shooting and even heading.

But I looked at the back of his shirt. It didn't say Prosinecki.

And I even saw that highly-talented but under-rated Benjani score.

Three times.

Including one at the end of a superb dribble and probably the best body swerve seen at Fratton since those half-time dancing troupes of the '90s disappeared.


But great.

I thought it was never going to end. But of course it had to.

This was a dream, after all.

Wasn't it?