South coast derby matches are always keenly contested affairs but, in reality, when Pompey hosted Brighton and Hove Albion, in the spring of 1984, there was not too much at stake. Neither side were in the promotion hunt and both were relatively safe from relegation. Alec Laverty remembers this remarkable occasion.
The weather was mild and pleasant at midday when the lightly attired Brighton fans arrived in the city centre. But by kick-off time it had started to rain quite heavily, which was unfortunate for them because they were penned into a section of the Milton End where there was no shelter.
At half-time the rain was still lashing down but, remarkably, the Albion fans were still managing to maintain a buoyant mood. Their team had gone into the break with a 1-0 lead and they seemed oblivious to the ‘getting wet’ taunts from the Pompey fans in the Fratton End. You couldn’t help but admire their spirit.
They had little to cheer about in the second half though, as Pompey laid siege to the Brighton goal with wave after wave of attack. It looked like it was going to be one of those days when the ball would just not go in the net but the breakthrough came when Neil Webb scored from close range. Then the floodgates opened. Bobby Doyle scored with a thunderbolt from the edge of the penalty area, which was quickly followed by three more goals from Hateley, Biley and Dillon.
Pompey had somehow managed to score five goals in just twelve minutes. It was sensational. The atmosphere in the Fratton End (where the deluge of goals had been scored) was electric and, as each goal went in, the Pompey fans chanted a reminder of the scoreline to the Brighton contingent who were still being mercilessly pummelled by the rain.
Even at the end of the game, there was still no respite for the Albion fans. The police would not allow them to leave until the stadium was cleared. Adding to their misery, while they waited, a radio commentary of all five Pompey goals was broadcast over the PA system. It really had not been their day!
Although it had been an end of season game without too much importance, it was one that would live long in the memory – for both sets of fans – and for very different reasons!
Pompey manager Bobby Campbell was dismissed at the end of the season, unfortunately, presumably because the team had finished in a lowly position. That was a pity because the previous season he had led the team to a glorious promotion from the Third Division. Such is the precarious nature of football management.