Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

Johnny's Stay At Home Diary: Part Three

Why the coronavirus crisis brings back memories of a trip to Germany

14 April 2020


Every so often, there comes along a passage of time when we all stand equal.

We have recently seen that Boris Johnson and Prince Charles are just as liable to suffer from the coronavirus pandemic as Pete the plumber or Mikey the mechanic.

Okay, so our prime minister and the heir to the throne did not need to dial 111 in order to be assessed.

But the former was forced to spend several nights in intensive care, where he was treated by the same doctors and nurses as everyone else in the hospital.

While the situation does not really compare to Pompey’s tale of an aborted flight from Germany, it does provide another example of an event that temporarily levelled the playing field.

Flying with Premier League footballers tended to be like an airborne episode of ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’.

The players and coaching staff were the masters, choosing the best seats and chatting merrily among themselves. The rest of us were subordinates, scrambling to find a spare spot and speaking only when spoken to.

"Flying with Premier League footballers tended to be like an airborne episode of ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’."

Johnny Moore

There were notable exceptions, with Sylvain Distin, Hermann Hreidarsson and Richard Hughes prime examples. Those are the guys likely to be at the forefront of mucking in during this current crisis.

But the tables were turned on a cold December night in Germany, as our plane refused to budge from the runway following a UEFA Cup defeat at Wolfsburg.

Hughes – who had a massive fear of flying – could not have looked more petrified had Leslie Neilsen himself emerged from the cockpit.

On the night that Pompey were knocked out of Europe with one group game remaining, we made as much progress as Theresa May negotiating a Brexit strategy.

As the realisation dawned that we were ‘all in it together’, players dropped their guards and became more receptive, while us folk from ‘downstairs’ were less oppressed.

David James served drinks to everyone from a tray, while Sean Davis jokingly muttered something about ‘Titus Bramble Airways’ and when the air conditioning system broke down, Glen Johnson emerged from a plume of white smoke to resemble a contestant on ‘Stars In Their Eyes’.

Even Sol Campbell was sporting an uncharacteristic grin as gallows humour took over the entire aircraft.

It was almost a shame when the pilots called time on our fun and we had to disembark before being escorted to a Hamburg hotel.

"Glen Johnson emerged from a plume of white smoke to resemble a contestant on ‘Stars In Their Eyes’."

Johnny Moore

Such was the camaraderie, the coach transporting us resembled a supporters’ vehicle – it was difficult to comprehend the inhabitants were top-flight footballers who had just exited Europe and were a little over 48 hours away from a league game at West Brom.

Not that the tale was over. The smiles dropped among some in our party when we arrived back at the airport the following day and discovered that the same plane – now fixed – would be flying us home.

Hughes and several others chose to hire a car and drive all the way back to Blighty, while another group booked spots on an alternative flight.

Normal service swiftly resumed and yet, like in these uncertain times, we were briefly all together in the same boat. We were stripped of any social standing by events that were out of our control.

Privilege, fame and material wealth counted for nothing. It is a stark reminder that if you remove our masks, we are all just human beings.

Advertisement block