Life at Portsmouth Football Club has been turbulent, to say the least, since winning the FA Cup in 2008.
But, finally, the tide is turning for the Blues – who this week became English football’s largest community-owned football club.
The bid, backed by Supporters’ Direct, the Football League – and even the Prime Minster – was won on Wednesday, after dogged, tireless work by the Pompey Supporters’ Trust.
And, at 4.12pm, a city-wide sigh of relief was heard, as the High Court judge sealed an end to Pompey’s torrid past – opening a fresh chapter for the fan-run club.
But despite champagne corks popping at Fratton Park, after striking a deal with former owners Portpin for Fratton Park, thoughts immediately turned to restoring the club’s pride and reputation.
Since Kanu’s Wembley winner against Cardiff, the club’s loyal supporters have been dealt a mixed bag of memories – from an emphatic 2-2 home draw against AC Milan, to two relegations and three points deductions.
And lest we forget the off-field woe dealt to fans – a High Court battle with HM Revenue and Customs over an unpaid tax bill, as well as countless headlines condemning the club’s torrid financial state.
But despite all of this, walking around Portsmouth, you won’t see a frown on any of the fans’ faces – but smiles of joy and hope for the future, with the club run by the very custodians who hold its best interests truly at heart.
Tuesday evening signals the rebirth of the 115-year-old side, as former-Fratton favourite Hermann Hreidarsson leads his Swedish outfit, IBV, onto the pitch for a Trust fund-raiser against a team of ex-Pompey legends.
And although a win for Oldham could signal Pompey’s relegation to League Two, it’s the future that’s on the minds of Pompey fans and Trust officials, as they look to start life in the fourth tier.
With the looming decision over whether to deduct Pompey either this season or next, for remaining in administration, the Trust are already planning for next season – set to hold talks with talismanic Pompey manager Guy Whittingham over a permanent deal.
Whittingham, who hit 99 goals over seven years as a player with the club, has been overseeing the club’s plight in a caretaker role since November, after Michael Appleton left for his short stay at Blackpool.
And despite a 23-game winless run and a 14% win rate, it’s Whittingham that Pompey fans want to lead the club into a new era.
However, the ex-Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday striker cannot formally sign any deal with the club until the club exit administration – expected to take place on Friday.
But it won’t just be the manager celebrating a new contract, as Pompey fans rejoice on having their first permanent manager in five months – as well as a summer transfer window without any embargos, or restrictions on building a team.
A staggering 55 players have been named in the club’s various match-day squads this season, comprising of a number of free transfers, loans and youth players – with fans guessing just who will don the famous royal blue shirt in their next game.
However, as of Wednesday, 10 April 2013, this was set to be just a distant but unforgettable memory for supporters, as the club’s long and difficult rebuilding process begins.
Two games remaining for the likes of Jed Wallace, Ashley Harris and Adam Webster to prove to Whittingham why, although young and inexperienced, they’re the ones to help shape Pompey’s future.
And although the future unknown, the Pompey fans can finally support an honest, solvent, transparent football club for the first time in many, many years.
As Portsmouth’s literary son Charles Dickens once said: “To conceal anything from those to whom I am attached, is not in my nature. I can never close my lips where I have opened my heart.”