Portsmouth FanZoner James Shipp recalls happier times at Fratton Park and wonders if they will return...
Time for the Pompey players to show some pride
27th November 2008, and Fratton Park is rocking.
Glen Johnson had steamrollered his way through two weak A.C Milan challenges and squared the ball across the face of goal.
As Kanu tucked the cross into the back of Dida's net, Johnson's celebration in-front of the North Stand will still give those who saw it goosebumps for as long as they live.
Portsmouth were leading the Italian giants 2-0, the Blues' little old stadium packed to the rafters and those inside it creating a noise so loud it was hard to even hear the referee's whistle.
It took fine late strikes from the little known Ronaldinho and Filippo Inzaghi to salvage a point for the visitors, but the memory of holding the star-studded European greats to a draw was far more important than the result. That night, the attendance was 20,403.
Fast forward four years, to the 29th December 2012.
Fratton Park is not quite rocking, in-fact the loudest noise of the first 45 minutes against Yeovil Town is the boos that accompany the Blues off at half-time.
This time, they're trailing 2-0, a scoreline keeping them in the bottom four of League One. From UEFA Cup football to the lower reaches of the third division in less than half a decade. The fall from grace has been dramatic, and even though Paul Benson pulled one back in a much improved second-half performance, Pompey eventually slumped to a 2-1 defeat.
The attendance was 12, 370, over 8,000 down on the Milan clash. Obviously the less diehard can't be blamed for not wanting to spend their hard earned cash on a team not performing, after all, no win in 13 now for the south coast side. But the hardcore are still there, supporting an outfit who looked doomed to League Two already, despite the season being only half fulfilled.
Those fans were out again in force on New Year's Day, making the shortish trip to Swindon for the first game of 2013. What the faithful 1,504 Blues witnessed was the low point of Pompey's season so far, a 5-0 drubbing, leaving the already broken morale of the squad shattered into a million pieces.
Still, the Portsmouth supporters are a different breed, the aforementioned Ronaldinho referred to his night at Fratton as 'the best atmosphere' he'd ever experienced. And despite being about 20,000 less in size, the County Ground found out the Blue Army can still make a racket.
Swindon fans have flooded Twitter ever since to recognise the efforts of those who made the trip to Wiltshire. On the pitch, the team have been less than impressive. But off it, Portsmouth are definitely in a league of their own. As the goals rained in, the travelling support belted out "We lose every week, We lose every week! You're nothing special, We lose every week!" Funny, but true.
And an old favourite made an appearance too, "Let's pretend we've scored a goal!" followed by wild celebration.
The aforementioned boos against Yeovil are very rare from the Fratton faithful. It takes the most disgusting of performances to cue such jeering, but it's got to the point where the players need a wake-up call. Many can't remember a time where the club have been in such bad form, with not a single victory since 20th October.
Ten losses and three draws have followed what was a five-match unbeaten run, which at the time, looked like the beginning of a push for the play-offs.
Now the fourth-tier of English football is almost inevitable, a month of transfer activity will hardly aid the cause either. In fact, the whole squad could be different come February.
But Pompey fans are used to it, the constant instability, financial woes and ongoing struggle to save their historic club. The current points total of 21 may not get higher, with 10 set to come off the tally, that number is more likely to decrease if anything. But the biggest result of the campaign would be for the Portsmouth Supporters' Trust to complete their takeover.
The players on the pitch may change, but the level of loyalty and support from the fans will certainly not. That's why there are no better supporters to seize control of their beloved team than the Portsmouth ones. And it's about time the players started delivering results befitting those individuals in the stands.