Thursday, September 20, 2007

History of Portsmouth F.C.

Early years (1882 - 1911)
Football was played in Portsmouth from the 1850's and was popular for sailors and dockers to play in the city. The current club was founded in 1898 with John Brickwood, owner of the local brewery, as chairman, and Frank Brettell as the club's first manager. A common myth is that the club's first goalkeeper was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. While Conan Doyle did play for an amateur side as AC Smith, Portsmouth AFC, that flourished from 1882 to 1894, the first goalkeeper of the professional era was Matt Reilly who previously played for the successful Royal Artillery team.

The club's first league match was played at Chatham Town on 2 September 1899 (a 1-0 victory), followed three days later by the first match at Fratton Park against local rivals Southampton. That first season was hugely successful, with the club winning 20 out of 28 league matches, earning them runners-up spot in the Southern League. The league was won for the first time in the 1901-02 season, by which time Brettell had been replaced by club captain Bob Blyth as manager.

The 1906-1907 season was highlighted by the visit of Manchester United to Fratton Park in the FA Cup, which generated a record attendance of 24,329. A 2-2 draw meant a replay in Manchester, and Portsmouth recorded a famous 2-1 win. However, this record attendance was surpassed two seasons later when Sheffield Wednesday visited Fratton for the second round of the new FA Cup.

1910-11 saw Portsmouth relegated, but with the recruitment of Bob Brown as manager the team were promoted the next season.

Climbing up the league (1919 - 1927)
Football was suspended during World War I, but following the resumption of matches Portsmouth won the Southern League for the second time. Continuing success saw them in the Third Division for the 1920-21 season. They finished 12th that year, but won the league in the 1923-24 season. The club continued to perform well in the Second Division, winning promotion by finishing 2nd in the 1926-27 season, gaining a record 9-1 win over Notts County along the way.

Life at the top (1927 - 1939)
Portsmouth's debut season in the First Division was a struggle. The next season they continued to falter, losing 10-0 to Leicester City, still a club record defeat. However, despite their failings in the league that season also saw Portsmouth reach the FA Cup final for the first time, which they lost to Bolton Wanderers.

Portsmouth managed to survive relegation, and their fortunes began to change. In the 1930-31 season the club finished 4th. The 1933-34 season saw Portsmouth again reach the FA Cup Final, beating Manchester United, Bolton Wanderers, Leicester City and Birmingham City on the way. Unfortunately the club was again defeated in the final, this time to Manchester City.

Having established themselves in the top flight, the 1938-39 season saw Portsmouth reach their third FA Cup Final. This time the club managed to defeat the favourites, Wolves, convincingly 4-1. Bert Barlow scored twice whilst Cliff Parker and Jock Anderson completed the famous victory.

League football was again suspended due to World War II, (however they did reach the 1942 London War Cup Final losing to Brentford at Wembley) meaning Pompey hold the unusual distinction of holding the FA Cup for the longest uninterrupted period as the trophy wasn't contested again until the 1945-46 season. Nevertheless, with the Wartime Leagues in operation, Pompey signed various players of other clubs who happened to be serving in the Forces and stationed near Portsmouth on a temporary basis. One such was Andy Black of Glasgow Rangers who on one notable occasion scored 8 goals in a 16 - 1 thrashing of Clapton Orient.

Glory years (1946 - 1959)
League football resumed for the 1946-47 campaign. In Pompey's Golden Jubilee season of 1948-49, the club were tipped to be the first team of the 20th century to win the Football League and FA Cup double. However, Pompey crashed out of the FA Cup in the semi-final against Leicester City, but made up for it by claiming the league title in spectacular fashion. That season also saw a record attendance of 51,385, a record which still stands to this day.

The club retained the title the following year, beating Aston Villa 5-1 on the last day of the season, and are thus one of only five English teams to have won back to back titles since World War II.

Pompey enjoyed a fourth-place finish in 1951-52, but in the summer of 1952 championship-winning manager Bob Jackson left for Hull City. The players who had featured in the club's recent successes were now ageing and the young players coming into the side were not of comparable quality. Although the team finished third in 1954-55, subsequent seasons saw Pompey struggle and they were relegated to the Second Division in 1959.

Life in the lower leagues (1961 - 1976)
Portsmouth went down to the Third Division in 1961 but were promoted back to the Second Division at the first time of asking under the guidance of George Smith.

Despite limited financial means, Smith maintained Portsmouth's second division status throughout the sixties until moving upstairs to become General Manager in April 1970. A cash injection that accompanied the arrival of John Deacon as chairman in 1972, failed to improve Pompey's league position. With Deacon unable to continue bankrolling the club on the same scale, Pompey were relegated to the Third Division in 1976.

Near oblivion (1976 - 1980)
In November 1976 the club found itself needing to raise £25,000 to pay off debts and so avoid bankruptcy. The money was raised from supporter contributions after a campaign led by the local newspaper The News.

With players having to be sold to ease the club's financial situation, and no money available for replacements, Pompey were forced to rely on an untried manager, Ian St John and inexperienced young players. Consequently, they were relegated to the Fourth Division in 1978.

During this period and throughout the 1980s, Portsmouth was one of a number of football clubs with a reputation for Football hooliganism. The most notorious gang was called the 6:57 Crew. A self-proclaimed 'casual firm' of football hooligans, whose name came from the fact that many supporters would catch the 6:57 train from nearby Fratton railway station to London for away games. The advent of all-seater stadia following the Taylor Report into the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 contributed to a decrease in organised football-related violence, and the 6:57 Crew was gradually reduced to nothing by the 1990s. Two books have been written about the 6.57 Crew, Rolling With The 6.57 Crew by Cass Pennant & Rob Silvester and Playing Up With Pompey By Bob Beech.

Back on track (1980 - 1988)
Pompey were promoted back to Division Three in 1980, and in the 1982-83 season they won the Third Division championship, gaining promotion back to the Second Division.

Under Alan Ball's management, Pompey narrowly missed winning promotion to the First Division twice before finally succeeding in 1986-87. Unfortunately, by the middle of the 1987-88 season the club was again in grave financial trouble, and Pompey were relegated straight back to the Second Division. The summer of 1988 saw Deacon sell the club to London based businessman and former QPR Chairman, Jim Gregory.

Waiting for success (1988 - 2002)
Jim Smith's arrival as manager at the start of the 1991-92 season, combined with the emergence of some good young players, sparked a revival in the team's fortunes and that year Pompey reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, losing on penalties to eventual winners Liverpool after a replay. The following season, Pompey missed out on promotion to the FA Premier League only by virtue of having scored one less goal than West Ham United.

Chairman Gregory now called in the money he had lent the club over preceding seasons, and so players were sold with little funds available to buy replacements. The team's form declined, and Smith was controversially sacked in 1995 and replaced by Terry Fenwick. Relegation to the Second Division was avoided on the last day of the 1995-96 season when Pompey won away to Huddersfield Town while other results went the club's way.

In the summer of 1996 Terry Venables arrived at Pompey as a consultant, later taking over as chairman after buying the club for £1. The team enjoyed a run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1996-97, beating FA Premier League side Leeds United en route, but finished just short of the qualifying places for the play-offs for promotion to the Premier League. The 1997-98 season saw Venables lose his popularity with the club's supporters, as he signed several Australian players, most of whom failed to perform with much distinction, while his role as coach of the Australian national team meant he was frequently absent from Portsmouth; meanwhile, the team's results were poor. Two-thirds of the way through the season he and unpopular manager Fenwick left the club, Venables selling his shareholding back to Martin Gregory, son of former chairman Jim, while Alan Ball returned as manager. Relegation was again avoided on the last day of the season.

Pompey's centenary season, 1998-99, saw a serious financial crisis hit the club, and in December 1998 Portsmouth went into financial administration. Milan Mandarić saved the club with a takeover deal in May 1999, and the new chairman immediately started investing. Things did not get off to the best start under Mandarić, as Ball was sacked in November 1999 with the club near the bottom of the table. Tony Pulis took over and steered the club to safety, but only lasted ten months at the helm after which he was put on gardening leave (and sacked not long afterwards) due to a poor relationship with Mandarić. Veteran player Steve Claridge stepped up to manager, and some initial success saw talk of promotion to the Premiership, only for a horrific run of defeats to set in after the new year, resulting in Claridge being reduced back to player and being replaced in 2001 by Chelsea coach Graham Rix. Rix did not prove an entirely popular appointment, as he had been jailed for a sexual offence two years previously,[1] and the club only survived on the last day of the season when they won their final game and Huddersfield Town lost theirs, keeping Portsmouth up at their expense.

Over the summer, recently sacked West Ham manager Harry Redknapp was appointed Director of Football, and most observers concluded that the minute results did not swing Rix's way, he would be sacked and replaced by Redknapp. Sure enough, after an early promotion charge degenerated into mid-table mediocrity and Pompey were knocked out of the FA Cup by Third Division side Leyton Orient, Rix lost his job in early 2002, with Redknapp taking over as predicted. Former manager Jim Smith was asked to team up with Redknapp, and while he initially turned the offer down to remain as assistant at Coventry City, he soon arrived at Portsmouth after Coventry sacked most of their coaching staff near the end of the season.

Portsmouth reach the Premiership (2002 - 2004)
In Redknapp's first full season in charge, (2002-03), he brought in a number of experienced Premiership players such as Steve Stone, Patrik Berger, Tim Sherwood and Paul Merson, and combined them with younger, up-and-coming talents such as Gary O'Neil and Matthew Taylor. Pompey stormed the league, comfortably beating second-placed Leicester City to the 2002-03 Division One Championship winning in the title with a game to spare.[2] The following season the club tipped for immediate relegation from the Premiership surprised many by staying up and have remained in the top flight ever since. During their four Premiership seasons to date Pompey have produced some surprise results, notably three home wins - including two in consecutive seasons - against Manchester United.

In their Premiership debut season, Portsmouth had one of the best home records in the Premiership, but poor away form restricted them to a 13th place finish. Had they been able to match their impressive home form on their travels, then a top half finish or even a European place could have been achieved. After the third game of the season, a 4-0 home victory against Bolton Wanderers, Pompey topped the Premiership and were comfortably in mid-table throughout the autumn, inflicting a resounding 6-1 victory at Fratton Park on Leeds United in November 2003. A 1-1 draw against Arsenal at Highbury, when Teddy Sheringham put Pompey in control before half-time, before a foul on the title-bound Gunners' Robert Pires earned the Londoners a penalty in the closing stages of the match, which when converted effectively ended the South Coast club's chance of registering a famous away win over Arsenal, signalled the start of a run of eleven games in a row without victory for Pompey. There were suggestions, backed by evidence from video replays on the BBC's Match of the Day, that Pires may have dived in the box during the match at Highbury, precipitating the award of the penalty, although Pires has always vehemently maintained his innocence. Nevertheless, this draw marked the first of a horrendous run of results that left the team odds on to be relegated in mid-March. However, a 1-0 win at home to rivals Southampton followed by a first Premiership away win at Blackburn Rovers' Ewood Park proved to be the catalyst for a run of form that included a famous 1-0 win over Manchester United in April, with Steve Stone (rejected by Sir Alex Ferguson on a bid to join Manchester United less than two years earlier) the scorer in Pompey's first win over Manchester United for nearly 60 years. This surprise win handed Pompey a relegation lifeline as it lifted them out of the drop-zone for the first time since February. A 2-1 away win over Leeds United and a 1-1 draw at home to Fulham in their next two matches confirmed that Portsmouth would not be relegated in their first Premiership season. The club signed off their impressive Premiership debut season with a 5-1 crushing of the season's league cup winners Middlesbrough at Fratton Park on the final day of the season on 15th May 2004.

Crisis and Struggle (2004 - 2006)
Despite their successful partnership, Mandarić and Redknapp clashed several times during their time together. At the end of the 2003-04 season Mandarić was considering replacing some of the club's coaching staff, including Redknapp's assistant Jim Smith. No changes took place, and after an uneasy start to the 2004-2005 season, failing to win any of their first three matches, two consecutive home wins (4-3 over Fulham and 3-1 over Crystal Palace) started a steady run of form (including a famous 2-0 win over Manchester United at Fratton Park in October) that saw them remain comfortably in mid-table between August and December. However, despite the team's achievements on the pitch, behind the scenes all was not well. The two clashed again more seriously when Mandarić proposed appointing another director in November, with responsibility for the youth set-up at the club. Redknapp disapproved of the proposal but Mandarić pressed ahead and appointed Velimir Zajec. Redknapp, along with his assistant Jim Smith, subsequently resigned with immediate effect on 23 November.

Zajec took over as manager, initially as caretaker, then on 20 December 2004 the club announced that he would manage the team for the remainder of the season. Their first game under Zajec was a 1-0 away win over Bolton Wanderers, in a hard-fought match where Portsmouth captain Arjan de Zeeuw and Bolton striker El-Hadji Diouf had an on-pitch skirmish in the second half that later prompted Diouf to spit in de Zeeuw's face[3]. This victory lifted Portsmouth into the top half of the table for the first time since August. However, on 7 April 2005 after a poor run of results which saw Portsmouth wallow away from as high as ninth place on Boxing Day to 15th position in the table by the end of March, Alain Perrin was appointed team manager, with Zajec reverting to his director's role.

After having looked in real danger of relegation for most of the second half of the season, Portsmouth's 4-1 victory at home to local rivals Southampton on 24 April 2005 brought the club close to securing Premiership survival which became virtually certain six days later when, although Portsmouth lost at Manchester City, two clubs lower in the table also failed to win their matches, leaving Portsmouth needing only a single point from their two remaining games to make survival certain. A week later Portsmouth made sure of their safety with a 1-1 home draw against Bolton Wanderers in their penultimate game of the season, a result that meant they could not finish lower than 16th place (eventually their final position). On 15 May 2005, the final day of the season, Portsmouth's 2-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion gave Albion survival and relegated Southampton, resulting in a carnival atmosphere at the end of the match which saw both sets of fans invade the pitch. The 2005-06 season thus saw Portsmouth play in a higher league than rivals Southampton for the first time since 1960.

Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Pompey's main goal threat for the past two and a half seasons was sold to Middlesbrough for £7.5 m and several other players were transferred as Perrin began to stamp his authority on the club. After many years of waiting, plans emerged for a redevelopment of Fratton Park itself - the aim being to turn a dilapidated, old style league ground into a 21st century, 30,000 seat stadium. Off the field changes also occurred with departure of Director of Football Zajec for personal reasons.

Portsmouth continued to struggle in the 2005-2006 season, winning just two games between August and November - a lucky 1-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park (courtesy of an own goal by Everton's Duncan Ferguson) and a 4-1 away win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light. During a hard-fought 1-0 defeat to Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in early October where Portsmouth enjoyed the lion's share of possession and goal chances only to succumb to a superb first-half volley by Bolton's Kevin Nolan, Perrin's continual harassment of the match officials saw him ordered away from the pitchside by the referee, an incident that landed Perrin in hot water with the FA and also led many pundits to believe his demise was now only a matter of time. The club's series of poor results (that set a record low number of points for a Portsmouth manager) continued into December 2005, at which time Mandaric finally reached the end of his tether and Alain Perrin was sacked.

Former manager Harry Redknapp took charge again a couple of weeks later, leaving south coast rivals Southampton. The appointment made headlines on the sports pages of the UK press, with fans divided into strong pro and anti Redknapp camps. Unusual betting patterns shortly before Redknapp left Southampton resulted in the club and Redknapp himself being investigated by the FA. After months of investigation, no charges followed. The return of Redknapp to the club lifted morale for Portsmouth, and in late December 2005 they finally scored their first victory at Fratton Park since April with a 2-1 success over relegation rivals West Bromwich Albion and followed it up with another 2-1 home victory over West Ham. These two wins and a 1-1 draw against Fulham lifted Portsmouth from 19th to 16th in the table, but soon after, three heavy away defeats in a row (3-0 against both Manchester United and Liverpool and 4-0 against Arsenal) dropped Portsmouth to the foot of the table at the New Year. By now, many bookies believed that any prospect of survival was over.

A Change of Fortunes (2006 - present)
In January 2006, Milan Mandarić confirmed he was to sell a stake in the club to Franco-Russian businessman Alexandre Gaydamak[4], and a cash injection of a reported £15 million enabled Portsmouth to purchase Benjani Mwaruwari from AJ Auxerre for a club record £4.1 m as well as Sean Davis, Pedro Mendes and Noé Pamarot; taking Wayne Routledge, Azar Karadaş and Andrés D'Alessandro on loan.

It appeared that this new cash injection, the return of Harry Redknapp to the club and the arrival of several new players would be too little too late for Portsmouth, as at the beginning of March 2006 they were twelve points adrift from safety with ten matches left.

When their chief relegation rivals Birmingham City thrashed Portsmouth 5-0 - Pompey's heaviest defeat to date in the Premiership, and also their sixth consecutive match without scoring a goal - Pompey looked certain to be relegated and the result also seemed to have put both Birmingham and WBA out of Pompey's reach. Despite a valiant effort, the club were unable to repeat their home success against Manchester United for a third consecutive season, and lost their clash at Fratton Park 3-1.

However, a late equaliser by on-loan Azar Karadaş in a 1-1 home draw against Bolton Wanderers, followed by a last minute winning goal by Pedro Mendes at home to Manchester City sparked a dramatic change in form and fortunes in March and April, which coincided with a loss of form for both Birmingham and WBA. After gaining 17 points from 8 games, Portsmouth avoided relegation on April 29 2006 when a win in the penultimate game of the season at Wigan Athletic, combined with Birmingham City's failure to beat Newcastle United, put Portsmouth beyond the pursuit of the Premiership's bottom three sides.

On 19 July, 2006, co-owner and club chairman Milan Mandarić transferred full ownership of the club over to Alexandre Gaydamak, after a 7-year tenure, that saw Portsmouth rise from the brink of liquidation into the top tier of domestic football. Mandarić remained at the club as Non-Executive Chairman until 25 September, 2006, before taking over English Championship club Leicester City.

During the summer transfer window, England internationals Glen Johnson (on a one-season loan from Chelsea), David James and Sol Campbell were signed as well as former under 21 midfielder David Thompson. Thompson departed for Bolton Wanderers in February 2007, but James and Campbell have both stayed at Portsmouth since. Veteran strikers Nwankwo Kanu and Andrew Cole were brought in on short-term contracts, with midfielders Manuel Fernandes and Roudolphe Douala joining on loan. Serbian international midfielder Ognjen Koroman's loan from Terek Grozny was extended for a further season, although he left the club in January 2007. Pompey's most expensive signing of the transfer window was that of Croatia international Niko Kranjčar, who cost £3.5 million from Hajduk Split.

Portsmouth made a strong start to the 2006-07 Premiership campaign without conceding any goals in their first five games and were briefly top of the Premiership. Two defeats in a row to Bolton Wanderers (1-0 at Fratton) and Tottenham Hotspur (2-1 at White Hart Lane) dented this record, but the team continued to make progress and build on their strong start so that at Christmas they still occupied fourth place (only a point behind third-placed Bolton), prompting speculation that they might emulate the achievements of former Premier League strugglers Bolton, Everton and Middlesbrough by qualifying for the UEFA Cup or even the Champions League, though Manchester United and Chelsea's excellent early-season form meant that neither Bolton and Portsmouth nor any other Premiership sides were considered serious title challengers by this stage. However, a run of poorer results after Christmas moved Portsmouth down towards mid-table.

Nevertheless, Portsmouth could still take many positives from their 2006-2007 campaign, not least the fact that they had never, at any stage of the season, looked to be in danger of relegation - largely due to their massive improvement in away game form compared with their three previous Premiership outings - and also that their home form had remained consistently strong. Additionally, there were also many encouraging results for the club, including victories over Manchester United, Everton, Reading, Newcastle United and Liverpool. By the end of the season they had amassed 54 points from 38 games (their best-ever achievement in the Premiership and their most successful finish to a season in fifty years) and recovered from their mid-season slump to finish a respectable ninth in the final table - much higher than many pundits had predicted before the season started. However, Portsmouth declined to participate in the UEFA Intertoto Cup 2007, preferring to honour a commitment they had made to play in the Barclays Asia Trophy 2007 in Hong Kong with Liverpool, Fulham and South China AA between July 24 and July 27, dates which clash with Intertoto ties.

On May 21, 2007, Canterbury of New Zealand announced a deal to make the kit for Portsmouth. This was the company's first venture into football.[5]

Portsmouth started the 2007/08 season on a good note with a 1-0 victory over Fulham and a penalty shootout win over Liverpool to clinch the Asia Trophy, prevailing 4-2 after the match had ended in a goal-less draw. Two Premier League draws with newly-promoted Derby County and reigning champions Manchester United preserved their unbeaten start to the season before they scored their first league victory with a 3-1 success over Bolton Wanderers at Fratton Park.

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