Continuing our new series of stories from our Young People’s Voices project – funded by Victorious Festival and supported by the University of Portsmouth – student at Havant and South Downs College, Michael Christou explores the highs and lows of football fandom.
Pompey is a proud place for all fans of the south coast football club. Founded in 1898, the club has been the pride of the city and brings everyone together. From the highs of unexpectedly winning the 2008 FA Cup to the lows of relegation from the Premier league to League 2, no matter what the outcome the fans never fail to support their team.
The club plays its games at the wonderful Fratton Park which has seen an FA cup, Premier League football and Europa League and that was all in the past ten years!
I spoke to a lifelong Portsmouth fan about the club who told me, ‘The passion from the fans week in week out, where it means so much to everyone involved rather than corporate Premier league football, has the feeling of true meaning.’
However, recently this wonderful reputation has been dented due to some idiotic individuals. The incident occurred during the second leg of the play off semi finals between Portsmouth and Sunderland at Fratton Park. Let me explain.
Portsmouth are a goal down from Tyneside and desperate for a comeback, similar to Derby’s against Leeds the night before, to lift tensions.
Both sides are frustrated, with poor football on the pitch leading anger to rise through everyone in the stadium.
As you can see in the video below, in the 63rd minute Sunderland midfielder Luke O’Nien chases Tom Naylor off the pitch, with O’Nien falling headfirst into the Fratton Park faithful. This led to most Pompey fans displaying their feelings towards the player with explicit words and gestures.
Now this is part of football and it’s why fans go. A release of anger displays passion for their club.
However, after the game Sunderland player Lee Cattermole stated O’Nien was kicked and punched.
This is not acceptable in football.
The beautiful game is also the sport of the working classes and chants are part of football. Everyone that is part of the game loves football chants, even footballers can sometimes laugh them off. But physical violence is too far and it is unfair to the club as it puts their entire fan base under scrutiny.
Another example of individuals putting all fans under the spotlight comes from fans of Croatia’s national team, where the club had to play behind closed doors following racist chants by fans. This led to multiple fans being banned from watching live Croatian matches. The main issue was a swastika burnt into the pitch by fans, leading to their match against England being played behind closed doors, with no fans present at all.
Earlier in the season a similar incident occurred in Birmingham; the Second City derby between Birmingham City and Aston Villa. Villa defender Jack Grealish was physically assaulted by a Birmingham fan who ran onto the pitch and swung a punch at Grealish’s head, sparking outrage from the whole world of football. Karma won in the end though, with Grealish staying on and scoring the winner in a one nil victory. However, football does not tolerate this behaviour.
Fans who take part in these types of incidents should be ashamed because they ruin the reputation of the sport and of their own club.
The Young People’s Voices project aims to provide young people with a platform to share their opinions, report on topics that affect them and advance standards of literacy. We worked with students from St Edmunds School and Havant and South Downs College to investigate and write their own stories, in a variety of styles and mediums – from creative memoir and opinion pieces to their own investigations. All their work will be published on S&C throughout July, and all participants have the chance to enter their work into a competition to read their story on the Spoken Word Stage at the 2019 Victorious Festival. You will find all the Young People’s Voices stories here as we publish them.
This project is supported by the University of Portsmouth, with thanks to the teams in Creative and Cultural Industries (CCI). It was delivered by University of Portsmouth MSc and PhD researchers Maddie Wallace and Lauren Jones.