Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Preston North End - Deepdale

22nd March 2003

Preston North End 1-1 Portsmouth

This was a Kill-Two-Birds-With-One-Stone trip combining a match at Preston North End’s Deepdale with a trip to the National Football Museum, then housed adjacent to the ground.  

The free to enter museum certainly made for a diverting hour or so before the game; the highlights for me personally being the primitive and, frankly, unsuitable looking footwear from the early days, a World War 1 trench football game (you have to see it), and the Visions of the Game Gallery featuring……well, pretty much what the name suggests.  

The numerous football strips behind glass panels left me rather cold though, and I guess that unless these items (Bobby Moore’s shirt from Mexico 1970, for example) have some quasi-religious meaning for one, they are just so much bits of cloth.  Regretfully, a decision was taken in 2009 to move the whole collection to, somewhat predictably, Manchester, and the museum closed its doors for the last time in May 2010.  
Preston North End's Deepdale.
This match saw the visit to Deepdale of a Portsmouth side being bank-rolled by owner Milan Mandaric on a seemingly unstoppable drive to the Premiership – heading the division, they were 14 points ahead of the play-off places.  And didn’t their fans know it.  

I sat in amongst the visiting support surrounded by an infernal, unending drone of “Harry and Jim, Top of the League, Harry and Jim, Top of the League” to the tune of Tom Hark.  The mantra became more and more mesmeric, and I could see some of the chanting Pompey fans drifting into an almost trance-like state.  Most unnerving.

Five minutes in the visiting fans had the opportunity to jack up the decibels a few notches when 20-year old Nigerian born striker YAKUBU neatly dispatched a lay off by Steve Stone.  Pompey then scorned a clutch of opportunities to put the match beyond Preston - Svetoslav Todorov particularly culpable – before allowing the hosts to steal a point in the 89th minute, a consequence of Paul McKENNA’s low drive somehow negotiating a forest of legs en route to the net. 

The Deepdale Pavilion Stand and terrace - demolished in 2007.

Fun in the sun, amongst the Stepford Wives.

Panorama of Deepdale, Preston.

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