What the Dicken’s? (A guide to Pompey)

by guest-blogger Tricky


Ok, so by now some of you know that I do not reside in north London, in fact my parents moved when I was a nipper to the sunny south coast. Subsequently, having moved and lived in different places along the coast, I am perhaps adequately placed to fill you in on the Pompey fans and what they have to live with which makes them, well, the way they are really.

The first thing to note is that they are faithful and local, faithful to the point of sectioning (I don’t think we need to mention any names or put any pictures up of anyone, but we all know who I mean. You know the one I mean, legend to the locals, the one with the bell, a sort of cross between a school teacher, the mad hatter and Cher) and local because there has to be a damned good reason for following a team that’s about as popular as a Geiger counter at a Sushi Bar in West London.

To be fair I find this aspect of their fan base to be properly admired, in a day and age when kids support the SKY4 across the land for the brand they hold, Pompey is at least a club of passionate and loyal fans, misguided of course, but very much a ‘local club for local people’.


                     You're welcome to come and visit, as long as you're one of us 

As an aside, I would also like to say at this point that every Spurs fan should have a mate who’s a Pompey fan. I have many (perhaps more than will be strictly healthy over the weekend) and there is always one who immediately springs to mind whenever asked what Pompey fans are like. This one in particular is a ‘god’ in my eyes, and when I say ‘god’ I mean ‘idiot’.

He is someone I can always look at in relation to my own messed up world and think ‘no matter how bad things are, I could have been born like him’. To be fair he's a decent honest sort of bloke, low ranking navy type, deckhand basically (although it does make me worry about how safe our country is exactly given that we’re an island, fortunately for us GB PLC is pretty much worthless before you worry too much).

Anyway, to know him is to love him, and to love him is to pity him, he is a ‘true blue’ through and through. An innocent, pure and stupid, would believe anything you said (say for example ‘your new billionaire owner is putting £200 million into the squad this year’) – now who doesn’t want a friend like that, I ask you, he’s like a loveable puppy that you can kick a few times and he’ll still come up to you with that glazed look in his eye and his tongue lolling out the side of his mouth.

In footballing terms, they have also recently been one of the ‘holding bays’ for players for / from north London, in case you’re wondering how closely we’ve been linked to them in the past consider this recent list of transfers between the clubs:

Noe Pamerot, Pedro Mendes, Wayne Routledge, Sean Davies, Michael Brown, Keving Prince Boateng, Younes Kaboul (twice),  Jermain Defoe (twice), Jamie O’Hara, Niko Krancjar and Peter Crouch (and I’m chosing to ignore those from the dark side for now).

Oh, and there is of course the minor matter of our acquisition of their previously much marmited manager. Subject of derision and admiration in a manner not unequal to our own supporters.

So you see, our lives and in some cases teams are interlinked, they aren’t really a team to dislike per se, ok they can appear a little bit bitter, but you can understand that as they’ve become victims of chairmen who were chasing money based on the ‘I’ll pay you tomorrow’ principal. The fans have paid dearly for the ineptitude and poor fiscal management by those in charge. It’s almost enough to make you feel for them, but then they were happy enough in the fizzy pop league before and they will be again.

And so to add to your knowledge and perhaps a few facts about Portsmouth, the surrounding areas and the local people / customs which may help you in some of the ‘eloquent and enlightened banter’ that no doubt some of you may become engaged in over the weekend please bear in mind the following:

  • Paulsgrove is one of the many delightful ‘estates’ in the surrounding area that became famous for hounding a ‘paediatrician’ out of his home (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6540497.stm).
  • Leigh Park, another delightful nearby local estate, appeared in the 'top 10 chav places’ on chavtowns.co.uk in 2005, (Cosham also appears quite high up on the list)
  • DO NOT inadvertently upset a Pompey fan accidentally by refering to him as a ‘saints fan’, should you do so to find that he objects, on no account suggest that both cities are pretty much interchangeable.
  • Gosport is a poor man’s Pompey, only people from Gosport will deny this.
  • Gunwharf Quays is a great place to visit if you want to buy all that Fred Perry and Ralph Lauren stuff that they could sell at full price in their ‘proper shops’. There is also, somewhat surprisingly a Burberry outlet there as well. Go figure.
  • Technically Portsmouth is an island, meaning that it can at any point in time be cut off from access by building a large wall to the north of the island. I’m just putting it out there.
  • Portsmouth people hate Southampton people due to a docker’s strike in the 1950’s, in fact the term ‘scum’ or ‘scummers’ used by Pompey fans stems from the ‘South Coast Union Men of Southampton’ who crossed picket lines. Since the 1950’s 5/6 generations (depending on which area of either city you’re in) on each side have passed and the hatred is still there, though no-one is really sure if the original reason is relevant anymore. It’s now simply written into birth certificates that each will hate the other.
  • The loving term that Southampton fans have for Pompey fans is ‘skates’, (think of fishermen / sailors at sea for a long time and you’ll work it out).
  • The fact that ‘Fratton Park’ backwards is ‘Krap Nott Arf’ is purely coincidental.
  • Oh yeah, and literary great Charles Dickens was born in Pompey, the irony of their current plight and it’s comparative to any number of his works of literature will be lost on many, this is an avenue best avoided with a great many Pompey fans, they haven’t read, anything, ever.

So there we have it then, a quick guide to Pompey fans 'The Dickensian Bunch' a mixture of Great Expectations, Hard Times and Bleak House.

They’re quite an eclectic mix, not unlike our good selves in some regards, but perhaps more like a mongrel offshoot of the family. Not really ‘one of your own’, but one of those relatives that seem a bit feral, the sort you can throw it a few bones every now and then and they’ll survive quite happily like the doe-eyed poor misguided trusting fools that they are.

As for the game itself, I don’t expect much, a win of course, and hopefully a comfortable one (if the league game is anything to go by). But goddamn it if this isn’t just tinged with the air of 'one of those FA Cup’ games that history is riddled with.

So enjoy the game one and all, or as they sign off in Pompey:  ‘Bob’s your uncle, and your dad’.


                                                     Bob's your Bob