Plymouth Argyle vs Pompey FC,  14 August 2012

At the opposite end of the sporting spectrum from the Olympics here. My sister and niece, both fanatical Pompey supporters, were down for the match and I went along too. Pompey fans are seriously worried that this might be the club's last game, or that a bleak future awaits even if the club is bought by Chainrai (Portpin Ltd --just heard they have finally backed out). Nevertheless, about 800 made the trip and, just for the duration, I sat with my sister and niece in the Pompey fans' end. Plymouth fans and supporters had organised some sort of collection and had devoted half the proceeds to Pompey Supporters' Trust, who had also made an offer for the club. The fans applauded the Argyle people and chanted their support for the Trust.

Were the fans gloomy? Were they fuck. They sang, chanted and applauded just like they did in the good days in the Premiership. They went nuts at anything that went Pompey's way -- a corner, even a goal kick, a good tackle or pass. Pompey lost 3--0 but you would never have known it. My sister said they had lost 6--0 at Barnsley and the Pompey fans, who apparently never leave before the end, were doing a conga.

The noise was deafening, and included drums and trumpets. Now and then they shushed each other and mocked the relative silence from the Argyle end before breaking into 'OK--we'll sing on our own!' (unknown tune - -maybe The Time of Your Life) . The trumpet player was not very good and my sister said they had all offered to club together to get him some lessons.

The actual team was drawn from the youth side, maybe with some reserves, since the club had sold all their first team players. They looked really young but they turned up. An even younger kid in Pompey kit led them on to the pitch. Fans responded with chants of 'Sign him up!'  (tune: 'Ere we go, 'ere we go 'ere we go) . They also chanted about wanting to sign up Argyle ball boys. ('Are your ball boys, are your ball boys, are your ball boys up for sale?' to the tune of Bread of Heaven) Even the Argyle Pilgrim mascot got an offer as he(?) walked in front of the Pompey fans. They began by demanding 'What the fucking hell is that?' (to the tune of Bread of Heaven again  then laughed as s/he (deliberately) tripped over his/her huge boots -- promptly followed by chants of 'Sign him up! Sign him up!'

Other chants included 'England no 1' when the keeper made a save (an ironic recollection of the days when D James played for the club), and 'Kwazi! Kwazi!' when an Argyle player skied the ball over the stand -- since the legendary Kwazi (spelling might not be right --it isn't -- the bloke was Quashi) apparently used to do that all the time for Pompey.

I know it is easier to be very sporting if you are not very successful. I worried about some of the fans who seemed to have become obsessed with a football team and not to have much of a life otherwise. But it was a very good atmosphere and if anything still shows the sporting values I was bleating on about before, it is contests like this.