Liverpool Vs. Wolverhampton Wanderers – Football Match Report latest 2023

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Portsmouth – Champions of England 1948-49

With D-Day (or ‘Dr Al Fahim Day’) looming this week (or possibly next week), I can’t help but dream of what Portsmouth Football Club could look like five years from now.

If I allow this dream to take the form of a hope rather than an expectation, then I can see a long term plan for the club to be run in the right way for the first time in more than a year. half a century, the team gradually climbing the championship and challenging for top honors and continually improving attendance and facilities. In reality, the future may lie somewhere between that and the current situation, but dreams are what make football what it is, even in the modern world.

How lucky we would be to witness a team rivaling the double championship winning team of 1948-50. It seems appropriate to look back on that era and try to get a sense of what it was like, starting with the 1948/49 campaign. Most of this information is taken from Colin Farmery’s excellent book, “Champions of England”.

Portsmouth’s FA Cup fifth round tie against Derby County at Fratton Park in February 1949 saw the club record attendance of 51,385. During this post-war period attendance at football matches had skyrocketed, and this was exemplified in January 1948 when 81,962 turned up at Maine Road to watch Manchester United v Arsenal, Old Tafford being closed for refurbishment after the damage caused by the time bombs of war. But attendance has also fluctuated, with Pompey’s home league gates typically spanning the 20, 30 and 40,000 brackets in a single season. It was necessary at the time to arrive at Fratton Park at 1 p.m. if you wanted a good vantage point for the game, but people lined up shortly after breakfast that day and at 2 p.m. the doors were closed.

Gosport’s Cyril Lucas was working as a builder at the time and went to the game, which Pompey won 2-1, with Ike Clarke scoring the winner. “Afterwards, it was pandemonium,” he recalls. “The whole crowd wanted to see Ike and I remember he couldn’t go out to see anyone because he was eating a sandwich!” Eventually, because there were so many people crowding outside, he had to leave the floor through a back entrance. When Pompey won, you were thrilled and we went back to the ferry replaying the game in our minds. However, if Pompey lost, I was depressed until Wednesday.

It doesn’t look much different from today, apart from the crowd of over 50,000 spectators and the championship title at the end of the season! But at that time it was the FA Cup that really fired up the fans. Pompey reached the semi-finals and was drawn against second division Leicester City, avoiding the ‘big boys’ of Wolves and Manchester United, who played in the other semi-final. It was going to be a formality. Pompey was surely on the way to the double. They lost 3-1 at Highbury, however, proving cup upsets are nothing new. The loss meant supporter Peter Downton had to eat some humble pie. “A friend of mine in London was an Arsenal fan and he came for the Jubilee game (the year before). To our delight he was devastated by the result: he spent most of the match with his mouth wide open. Unfortunately he managed to get a ticket to the semi-finals and thus had his revenge. My friend’s smile returned and I was forced to drown my sorrows at the Winebar in Yates in the Strand,” he recalled.

One of the best wins of the season was the sun-mauling of the Wolves on Easter Saturday at Fratton Park. Pompey won 5-0 and, coming so soon after their 5-0 win at Newcastle (five headed goals!) ten days earlier, was now voted champions. The title was sealed a week later at Bolton, and the promotion party at Fratton Park was against Huddersfield the following week. Apart from that, the match was notable for the fact that due to a head injury, Jimmy Dickinson missed his very first match. It may seem strange that attendance was only 37,042 after the record figure against Derby in the cup, accompanied by other Cup attendances in the 40,000s, but Fratton Park’s average attendance this season was 37,058 Perhaps it’s not so unrealistic to suggest that the impending new regime could restore the club to its former glories?

Players who won championship medals this season were Ernie Butler, Phil Rookes, Albert Ferrier, Jimmy Dickinson, Reg Flewin, Jimmy Scoular, Peter Harris, Bert Barlow, Duggie Reid, Len Phillips and Jack Froggatt. Ike Clarke also received special dispensation from the Football League to receive a medal, despite missing the qualifying mark of 25 games, by one game. Despite the differences between then and now (the overall nature of the game, player salaries, tactics and equipment), we are still playing the same game after all. It would be nice to think Portsmouth could build a Championship-winning side again, but I’d be content with the club on solid ground for now. If a wealthy foreign landlord is currently the only way to achieve this, I totally agree.

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