Sunday, 18 December 2011

Derby day relief, now lets crack on

Let's get this straight up front. Southampton are a better team than Pompey at the moment. I'm not gonna go through the arguments about who is the bigger club, see my previous blog, Pompey win more trophies, Southampton beat Pompey more often in derbies. Having said that even if they had beaten us 7-0 today I wouldn't want to have been born a Southampton fan, I would never swap my home for theirs.

Right let's look at today's game.

Pompey were not very good today. We were lucky to get a draw. But we did. Once they scored I didn't see us getting back into it. What a feeling it must have been for local boy Joel Ward to get the equaliser and the nature of it, they way he bundled it in showed a determination that I thought was lacking from the overall performance. Lawrence wasn't fit and shouldn't have played. I don't like playing one upfront, especially not at home, Kitson is not playing well enough to lead the line. The frustrating thing about Pompey at the moment is if you look through the team the individuals are not doing badly. Pearce, Rocha, Halford are playing well. Norris and Mullins are doing a ok. The WBA boys are fitting in. But the team as a whole are not performing as a unit, are not doing well enough.

BUT you can not argue with the results. When we wrote about Appleton's appointment we stated:

'However the fixture list has been relatively kind, the upcoming games include three home games out of the next five and Pompey have the 4th best home record in the Championship. The Southampton game is on the horizon. Victory there would buy him a lot of credit. Before that he has home games against managerless Leicester and 21st placed Coventry currently second bottom in the form table and the only club with a worse league away record than Pompey having scored 4 goals away in 8 games. The away games are against 18th placed Burnley who have won 2 of their 8 home games this year and 21st placed Watford who have won 3 of 8. These games are eminently winnable. Whittingham and Grey have given him some momentum and a new manager 'bounce' could see us looking in a much healthier position in time for the scum which will be a lottery of a game.'

And so it has transipred. Victory against an awful Coventry, a good win vs Burnley, a draw against Leicester and a draw against top of the table scum. Only an awful game against Watford is a blot on a good start. Of course before that the caretakers had done a good job. At this point we have a game in hand on most and are 6 points off relegation places and 6 points off seven.

If I dealt in cliches I would say that a team not performing well and getting results is a positive sign. We wait and see, I'm not currently that optimistic.

I thought the banter was quite good today. I'm also not getting involved in the we were louder than you crap on twitter. Both were loud during their teams ascendency, I thought it was fun when we mocked the Lalalalalaana chant, and enjoyed the lualua chant. The stupidity of my fellow Pompey fans not giving the ball back when we were attempting to chase the game was also quite amusing!

Did the bubble work? Well yes. Did it impinge on people's human rights? Maybe but at least no one got their heads kicked in.

Now let's see if Appleton can push on in the new year. I hope the scum don't go up, if for no other reason I like derby day, but they are lot more likely than us to do it at the moment.

Play up Pompey. Who have not lost a home derby in my life time. I, 4-1, am quite proud of that.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Saints or Pompey - a statistical look - who is the better club

I love Scum banter as much as the next skate. I can't tell you how much truth there is behind the seeds of the rivalry being in dock workers from Southampton breaking a Pompey picket line. I don't know if it's just a merchant vs royal navy split. I think in all honesty it's just because we are local to each other.

I don't 'hate' people from Southampton or even all scummers. But I love the rivalry. And I don't like their club. I'm hugely biased. But I feel that our support is better and our club has more character and more history. They are a dull club with avg support and an identi-kit stadium. I think the same can be said of the cities, I love Pompey as a city and the island mentality of the people. I can't think of any where else I would want to be from. When I watch derby games I really dislike the scummers. And I'm generally a rational functioning member of society. I don't understand it, but I like it!

What I thought I'd do is try to analyse the clubs respective attributes and get some perspective. So I've selected some categories that I think would be a good measurement of success - I'm not doing it to start a fight, I have consulted with a fellow blogger and Saints fan Sam Dobson (see his site here) who suggested certain categories:

1. Trophies won
2. Fanbase
3. Quality of players over history
4. Number of years in top flight
5. Financial resources

I have basically used these categories, other than financial resources as I was looking a little more long-term rather than right now, so I replaced it with popularity amongst other fans and also added head-to-head, and I cant be accused of adding that due to bias, as Pompey's head-to-head record is poor!

I also asked Sam for his honest view of the two clubs. This is his reply:

'In terms of numbers I think our support is much greater (Home and away). We have a great reputation for bringing talented young players through from the academy and generally always play decent football. I think a lot of fans were uncomfortable with the way Pompey overspent between 2006-2010. They were bringing in players on ridiculously high wages, at the same time they were ripping off local businesses/charities who they were unable to pay when the money dried up. On the other hand I can see how people would prefer Pompey if they still enjoy traditional old grounds like Fratton Park. Pompey probably have a greater history, having won more major trophies. I think Saints fans are traditionally much better behaved than Pompey fans however. You had quite a bad reputation when it came to hooligan problems in the past, which could count against you. And you have that bellend John Westwood.'

I disagree that they have greater home and away support. Currently in numbers is true, quality of support I would disagree with. I cant argue they have a better youth set-up and I have written at length that I am a little ashamed by the overspending. We do have a greater history. They have better behaved fans. We do have John Westwood!

I have tried to make it unbiased. As I write this i have no idea who will come out on top - but i know this for true fans of local clubs, like Portsmouth and like Southampton, you dont choose a club, you are born with one and I am under no illusions that this will settle any arguments, or change any minds, which ever categories Pompey win at will appear more important to me and probably visa-versa so its with interest rather than trepidation:

All-time record

The all-time records of the clubs are incredibly close. Pompey have the 64th best record in professional football, Saints are 62nd. These stats need to be quantified. It takes no account for which league the clubs were involved in (for example Bournemouth's record puts them 55th). But, for what its worth, Southampton are better in almost all categories, this is compounded by the fact Pompey have played an extra 67 games and have a total of 19 fewer points. Pompey have a GD that is 271 goals worse than Southampton. Pompey are better away from home, which seems remarkable at the moment!




Because of issues with the above method, I also had a look at league status.

Since 1920
Top tier
2nd tier
3rd tier
4th tier

Either way you look at it, its really close, but Southampton have been marginally in consistently higher divisions.

However when it comes to league success, (Pompey's titles will be detailed below) Pompey are in the ascendency. Below are the top 10 league finishes by Pompey or Southampton.



The point of football, is to win games, so that you can win trophies. No-one remembers who finish second. Pompey have won the league twice. Southampton have finished runners up once. Pompey have won the FA Cup twice and been losing finalists 3 times, Southampton have won the FA cup once and been runners up three times. Depending on how you classify these things, Pompey are the 19th most successful club in England in terms of trophies, Southampton are 32nd. We have discussed this on the blog before, in terms of 2008, would you prefer to win something or bumble along in the premier league? I guess thats down to preference.

Head to head

The head to head is in Southampton's favour. The clubs have met 30 times in the league, with 14 Southampton victories, 8 Pompey wins and 8 draws. In Cup competitions Southampton have won 5 and Pompey 1 (although 5 of these 6 games were at Southampton)

Total attendance

This season Southampton have an average attendance of 25,738, 77.1% and Pompey have an average attendance of 13,696, 65.8%, Southampton are having a better season and at present have a better average and percentage attendance.

Having said that Pompey's record home crowd was a huge 51,385, greatly surpassing Southampton's 32,152.

As always I figured the average attendance is the best measure of enduring support. Again, its very close. 1,470,652 people have watched Pompey play since 1920, an average of 17,508 a season. Southampton have been watched by 1,462,384, an average of 17,409.

Youth Development

This is the only category with a real winner, it was one I hadnt thought of and was suggested by Sam. It was also a real labour of statistical love and I hope Saints appreciate it! I looked at all (yes all) of the 1,173 England internationals and calculated how many England appearances and goals had been contributed by players whose first club was Southampton or Portsmouth, in brackets I have included the position out of the 92 league clubs for each attribute:

No of players
Cumulative Appearances
Cumulative Goals
18 (16)
274 (8)
85 (5)
11 (28)
132 (26)
19 (31)

I wont lie, this is the one part of Southampton's history and future I wish was ours!


I got in touch with a number of blogging associates and asked them which club they preferred and why. Pompey came out on top but it is a relatively hollow victory! Most fans were indifferent towards both. Some came out in favour of Southampton because of Westwood and his bell! Some mention of Pompeys more significant history and some who like Southampton because of the admirable career of Matt Le Tiss.

Club Preferred
Club supports and site

Long suffering fans
Everton -
Good fans and love of DJ
Bolton -
Doesnt like Westwood of Pompey Chimes
Bury -
Former player Richie Lambert
Rochdale -
Long suffering fans
Walsall -
Arrogance of saints whilst in league 1
Brighton -
Aware of Pompeys history but blues have been the underdog in recent years. Also likes the character of Pompeys Naval history
The great escape game against Pompey relegating Saints
Pompey have more history
Charlton -
Used to live in the area
Fulham -
Saints use to be a banana skin for them

Man u – manutd24.wordpress
Arrogance of saints in league 1
Peterborough -

Loved Matt Le Tiss
Spurs -
Dislike of Westwood
Sunderland -
Bad experience of fans at FP
Arsenal -
Better results against them
Reading -
Love of Cotterill and Marlon Pack

Here are two facts that both clubs will hopefully agree with, the rivalry makes being a fan more enjoyable and Sunday will be an exciting, tense game.

So there you have it, Southampton better at playing Pompey, better at producing youth players and better at staying in higher divisions (just!). Pompey have better support, only compounded by the fact it is the smaller of the two cities, and better at winning trophies. In terms of popularity I dont think I have settled anything!


Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Can we trust the trust?

I felt guilty when I heard that Antonov had been arrested. You see, the evidence has always been there that he is a crook – but we were desperate for our club to start moving forward again. I turned a blind-eye to the fact that the UK financial regulatory system (a system itself with a lot to answer for) had deemed him unfit to run a UK bank and he had once been the target of a Chechnian Mafia assassination attempt.

However if I picked up the News tomorrow to read that a previously unheard of businessman from somewhere I know little about with no knowledge or connection with our football club, with our city, turned up offering to pour money into the club, to take us back to the Premiership, and yes a couple of his businesses had previously failed and yes he was no longer welcome in Panama and his Dad was wanted by the Saudis for financial irregularities, would I do anything about it?

Well the short answer is no because I want our club to survive but perhaps more pertinently it is legally and officially nothing to do with me. That feels wrong. If you have read this far you are most certainly emotionally attached to Pompey or perhaps another English club. But in no other sphere of personal or financial life do we have such little control over something dear to us – this lack of control is disconcerting to say the least.

The Portsmouth Trust have tried to facilitate some element of influence if not control to bridge this gap. I am not a member. I am aware of the trust – I've never looked at in detail, I worry they maybe a toothless organisation, run by people I dont know – what are their motivations? Is this an ego trip for a select few or an attempt to represent all of us? Well I decided to try to find out...

The Trust wants to bring about democratic fan representation on the Pompey board to ensure the club is aware of and further its links with the community of Portsmouth. Its mission statement is wide ranging including 'further the development of the game of football both nationally and internationally' which seems ambitious and way outside what I imagined the remit of the Trust to be.

The Trust also promotes its association with Supporters Direct – whose main aim is to help supporters buy shares in their clubs. Fan ownership is not explicitly mentioned in the Trusts aims – but I presume its an assumed aim?

Even more complicated are the Trusts rules – it is difficult to identify exactly what my fiver would be used for, but it is reassuring to see that any financial surplus or profits will go towards building up reserves or expenditure on achieving the Trusts aims and not to any of the members of the Trust. The rules seems to be fairly standard setting out procedure for positions, voting, the removal of membership and so on.

The board members are all given space to explain their legitimacy as Pompey fans and why they have come to represent the fans. I applaud all of them for giving up their spare time to do this. Also there is significant documentation available to read about the meetings the trust have had over the last year.

The trust seems to have been professionally and impressively established. Their aims seem to perhaps be a little wide-ranging for me – standing at football, obtrusive filming at away games etc. Without focusing on officially democratically elected representation on the board of PFC, the Trust is another supporters club – important, worthwhile but these already exist and there is a degree of representation through Johnny Moore. I think the trust should make their aim (if it is indeed its aim) even more explicit. I am a Luddite, I want to know what my five pound gets me. I hope that one day my membership would allow me to vote for someone to sit on the board. I know it is not within possibilities for that to be promised, but if it was a clear, over-riding aim that would be a good start.

With the latest turmoil their have been discussions regarding fan ownership. This is utopian. The set-up at Barca is the dream. But Portsmouth do not have enough fans with sufficient wealth to buy the club outright and keep it competitive. If, god-forbid, the club collapses and we have to start again, that would be a different proposition.

This sorry process has yet again opened in my mind the debate about how football should be run, but that is for a different blog that I intend to write.

As for the Trust, after I blog this, I am going to pay my five pounds and join. I applaud them for attempting to do something. Do I think their aims could be clearer? Yes. Can we Trust the trust? I think so and I hope so, they seem to be Pompey fans trying to take our destiny back into our own hands and at the moment that seems like absolutely the right thing to do.