Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Johnny's Stay At Home Diary: Part Four

The importance of television and, in particular, Little House on the Prairie

21 April 2020

Milan Mandaric

We are all longing for the days when we can finally leave our homes and begin to venture outside again for a prolonged period of time.

Many of us probably aren’t used to a desperate longing to return to our place of work, but I can’t wait to be back at Fratton Park once more.

In my earlier days of employment at Pompey, I had an office that included a large television set attached to the wall.

I can vividly recall one Tuesday lunchtime when I raised my head to see muted pictures of planes flying into the side of a building, resembling scenes from a James Bond thriller.

But this was no film, of course. I was watching the attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in September 2001 – events that shook humanity to its very core.

And it took a mere flight of stairs to bring me chillingly closer to this atrocity as it was being beamed live around the globe.

There, in his office, stood a speechless and ashen-faced Milan Mandaric, who was staring at the same pictures.

Just a few minutes earlier, all the emphasis had been on preparing for the following evening’s Division One match at Wimbledon.

"There, in his office, stood a speechless and ashen-faced Milan Mandaric, who was staring at the same pictures."

Johnny Moore

Suddenly, however, the world had turned on its axis and football just didn’t seem important anymore.

I’m pretty sure that horrific day affected Milan financially, but there was also a much bigger picture and we have been on our guard ever since.

From the London bombings of July 2005 – which failed to halt a Pompey Supporters’ Club AGM in the capital – to the horrors of the Manchester Arena attack three years ago, we have all witnessed far too many depressing incidents on our television sets.

And yet, as we turn to the box more often during the current lockdown, we know they can also provide lighter moments.

I am loath to admit that as a kid, I was enthralled by the show ‘Little House on the Prairie’ and so was unable to resist a mid-afternoon repeat showing in my office.

In fact, I had seen the episode in question several times previously, much like I have watched several reruns of the 2008 FA Cup final.

This was not Kanu bundling home a cross from John Utaka, though, but Laura Ingalls falling off her horse.

As little Laura was left teetering between life and death (spoiler, she pulled through), Milan bustled in with some letters from fans that needed replying to.

His face carried a pained look as he saw what was on the screen, but he said nothing as he stared at the screen for an age.

Was he angry at catching me watching television when I should have been at work? Either way, he handed me the letters with a mutter before beating a hasty retreat.

He climbed back up the staircase and into the same office I had found him during that dark day 18 months earlier.

"Was he angry at catching me watching television when I should have been at work? Either way, he handed me the letters with a mutter before beating a hasty retreat."

Johnny Moore

I discovered from Ros, his PA, that Milan had closed the door and requested not to be disturbed, although had emerged 10 minutes later with a smile.

Although never asking him, I suspect to this day that he had rushed away to discover the fate of Laura Ingalls.

It did not mean that the horrors of 2001 had been left behind, just that life – as always – had moved on.

The testing times we are currently experiencing will eventually also pass. Until then, I’m flicking through the channels looking to find some more ‘Little House on the Prairie’ repeats.

The majority of Portsmouth FC staff have been furloughed as part of the government’s Job Retention Scheme. This column was written before those measures were implemented.


Advertisement block