29 September 2008

Football History: Portsmouth (Premier League)

It all started in 1898 in the offices of a solicitor where it was decided land close to Goldsmith Avenue be used for the 'proposed football club', that club later became Portsmouth Football Club. The land in Goldsmith Avenue was purchased for the princely sum of £4,950, and stands were swiftly erected on the north and south sides. The original company was launched with a capital of £8,000 in £1 shares and their were five directors of the new club. Frank Brettell was appointed as the first Pompey manager.

The club's first match was against Chatham on September 2, 1899. It proved to be a successful debut for 'The Shrimps', as they secured 1-0 victory. In fact, playing wise that whole first season proved to be a very good one. Portsmouth won 20 out of 28 league games, and were runners up in the Southern Division to Tottenham.

The visit of Manchester United to Fratton Park in the English Cup gave Pompey their first four-figure gate of 24,329. They managed a brilliant cup run in the 1928/29 season, culminating in their first final appearance, where they lost 2-0 to Bolton. However they got their hands on the cup in 1939 when they thumped Wolves 4-1 in the final. It was without doubt the south coast team's finest hour.

The pinnacle of Pompey's achievements was winning the league title in 1948/49. Their great day came on April 23, when goals from Peter Harris and Ike Clarke sealed the 2-1 title win against Bolton. The following season they successfully defended their title and remained league champions, but Pompey have never reached the same heights since.

Portsmouth were last in the top flight back in the sesason of 1987/88 under the management of Alan Ball. However they lasted just one season and were relegated back into the old second division - the current first division - where they remained until now.

Since then, Serb-American millionaire Milan Mandaric has stepped in. Manadaric put his faith in Harry Redknapp and the former West Ham boss turned things around quickly leading Pompey to the First Division Championship in his first full season in charge, taking them into the Barclaycard Premiership for the first time ever.

However, despite keeping them in the top flight, Redknapp left the club midway through 2004/05 to join neighbours Southampton, and was eventually replaced by French manager Alain Perrin. Pompey floundered after this dramatic switch and it wasn't until Redknapp's shock return a year later that their fortunes began to turn again, culminating in an FA Cup triumph in 2008.

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