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Rob Burnett: Portsmouth actually won something, but has the misery been worth it?

11 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rob Burnett: Portsmouth actually won something, but has the misery been worth it?

Football fandom can be a dreadful business - just ask supporters of Pompey, who host Championship favourites Derby in the Capital One Cup

One afternoon in May 2007 I was in a pub in Sheffield with two friends. One was an Aston Villa fan, the other supported Manchester United.

The widescreen TV hung on the wall above the door to the gents was showing Arsenal take on Chelsea at the Emirates.

At the end of the match the score was 1-1. As soon as Alan Wiley put his whistle to his mouth and blew for the final time that night, Manchester United were confirmed as Premier League champions.

It was their first title in four years.

My Villa-supporting friend and I turned to our Manchester United-mad pal, raised our glasses and congratulated him.

He looked back at us and without missing a beat, said: “Yeah, but we didn’t win the Champions League though, did we?”

It has long been my belief that people who support the likes of Manchester United don’t really know what it’s like to be a football fan.

There are only a handful of trophies played for each season in England. There are 92 professional clubs. It is a simple mathematic fact that almost every club wins nothing, every season.

Most fans of most clubs will never get to see their side win a single piece of silverware. Ever.

There was my friend – let’s call him Ollie (because that’s his name) – moaning to us at the very moment his club had just won the league. Won the league!

To most of us, that is an unimaginable, unattainable, impossible glory. To Ollie, who had seen his team win it nine times in his lifetime, it was par for the course. Nothing to get too excited about.

That is not what football is about.

Football is about trudging to dreary, Tuesday night away matches at Ewood Park in the rain, watching your team get stuffed 3-0, then trudging all the way back home again.

It’s about going to games week in, week out, watching your cloggers cock it up time and again.

But just occasionally, they don’t. Just very occasionally, the stars are aligned, the cards fall your way, you throw a double six, and you actually find yourself at a cup final.

If you manage to actually go and win something?

Well, suddenly all that hungover traipsing about the country on over-priced trains and braving the delights of the ‘away pub’, before seeing your side given a hiding at Huddersfield Town or wherever, well, suddenly that all seems worth it.

And not just worth it – it makes the winning so much better. You’ve paid your dues, all that misery wasn’t wasted after all, it was actually money in the bank, just waiting for a rainy day.

As the man said: without the bitter, baby, the sweet ain’t as sweet.

Portsmouth fans know this more than any other set of supporters.

So imagine this, Pompey fans: the devil pops up and tells you he can take away all the misery, all the relegations of the last five years, all the lurches into administration, the succession of shady owners, the constant changes of manager and players, all of it in one click of his demonic fingers.

And the price? The 2008 FA Cup win. Would you take the deal?

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