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Johnny’s Stay At Home Diary: Part One

The coronavirus pandemic adds to an already disjointed season

31 March 2020

Like many others up and down the country, supporters’ liaison officer Johnny Moore is currently working from home. Here he presents the first of his weekly columns on life in lockdown

One thing I have stressed repeatedly over the years is the triviality of footballing emotions.

We are all susceptible to receiving information that instantly makes a match and its outcome completely irrelevant.

A feeling of unbridled delight at an injury-time winner or downright despair at conceding a last-gasp goal can be tempered in its infancy by a single phone call or text message relaying bad news.

Plenty of passionate football fans will have already reached the conclusion that Bill Shankly was a wonderful manager, but lousy philosopher, having declared the sport to be more important than life and death.

Anyone who had not, would certainly have come to the realisation after the current coronavirus pandemic inflicted what previously only two world wars and one freak winter could manage.

Reality had already hit home when the club’s birthday trip to Wembley to face Salford in the final of the Leasing.com Trophy was postponed, quickly becoming secondary to the scale of the crisis and concern for loved ones.

A promotion challenge by Kenny Jackett’s was also packed away – and might never return – taking a seat at the back of most people’s priorities.

"Reality had already hit home when the club’s birthday trip to Wembley to face Salford in the final of the Leasing.com Trophy was postponed."

Johnny Moore

The previously vibrant training ground in Copnor Road, where players trained and ate amidst a backdrop of noisy banter, now lies completely silent. Few would have it any other way during these unprecedented times.

Brexit was our previous cross to bear, although compared to what we are now facing, that resembles a troublesome fly you swat away, only for it to keep returning.

For this guy, being forced to remain at home is a necessary, but sobering, experience – quite literally with the closing of pubs.

And yet even in those halcyon days when the word ‘corona’ conjured up visions of an al fresco bottle of lager with a wedge of lime stuck in the neck, this season has been an abnormal one.

With Rotherham standing aside for Victorious Festival and Southend following suit due to international call-ups, traditionalists who liked watching Pompey on a Saturday were left with hunger pangs.

In fact, there was not a single home league game on that sacred day between beating Tranmere on August 10 and Bolton on September 28.

More players being chosen by their countries and an extended FA Cup run ensured the Saturday starvation turned into a famine.

The Blues had got through 18 of their League One Fratton fixtures before the season was halted, with just nine of then taking place on a Saturday.

Had the campaign continued as scheduled, Accrington would have been the only other weekend visitors, with Blackpool to play on Easter Monday and midweek tests against Doncaster and Bristol Rovers.

"The Blues had got through 18 of their League One Fratton fixtures before the season was halted, with just nine of then taking place on a Saturday."

Johnny Moore

Contrast this with, for example, the 1974/75 season when Pompey had 15 weekend home matches and just six on alternative days.

And yet, this current sporting vacuum renders the comparison almost meaningless.

We are all simply praying for a return to normality – whatever that may be.


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