Thank you for joining us for this Easter Monday Sky Bet League One fixture with Morecambe.
It is a reversal of the long trek we ourselves had to make this time last year to Lancashire and we hope all those who have made the journey south today return home safely.
Due to print deadlines around the Easter holiday, these notes had to be written prior to our Good Friday trip to MK Dons. At the time of writing, we had sold nearly 4,000 tickets for the visit to Stadium MK and we must thank all of you who were there to support the team. Such outstanding backing will be further replicated with only a few remaining tickets left for the game at Shrewsbury on Saturday, while the fixture at Oxford the following Tuesday is already sold out.
Our last home match against Forest Green saw us collect three more points and a further closure of the gap to sixth position to just three points. Whatever the outcome in Milton Keynes, the players and coaching staff have ensured a compelling set of fixtures over Easter – and we hope beyond that, too.
We were delighted with the turnout from former players at the Rovers game to help the club celebrate the start of our 125th anniversary celebrations. Prior to kick-off, I was privileged to meet several famous names who graced the Fratton Park pitch and entertained so many of you over so many years. It was evident that Pompey holds a special place in their hearts and the outstanding reception they received at half-time was an emotional one – both for the players and those in the stands. Supporter memories of their favourite stars are to be cherished, as they provide a reflective marker, signposting us all towards other memorable events in our lives. We look forward to many similar reunions – not just over the next 12 months, but for many years to come. I would, in particular, like to thank Colin Farmery, Jake Payne and Ashleigh Emberson, who together worked so hard to make initial contact with the former players and then ensured they were safely able to travel to Portsmouth to enjoy the whole day.
The match also saw the Pompey Store launch a new 125 anniversary merchandise range, including a number of retro shirts. We were thoroughly overwhelmed by the response, quickly selling out several sizes and styles on the day. A further shipment arrived on Wednesday, with more designs scheduled for later in the year and again in spring 2024. Further to feedback from several supporters, we have asked Just Sport to look at extending to supplies of 3XL sizes as well.
The 125 celebrations continue today, as we welcome descendants of those who founded Portsmouth Football Club back in 1898. We must all be eternally grateful to their forefathers who created something unique to Portsmouth. If they themselves were with us now, they would be so proud of their outstanding legacy – the dreams and aspirations that still define us, the delivery of some amazing memories, the inspiration their football club provides to so many from different backgrounds and perhaps most importantly, the creation of a spirit of togetherness, bonding friends and family in a way that only a very special football club can achieve. We are so grateful to each and every one of them.
It was this very same spirit that inspired fans to save their football club in perhaps its darkest hour in 2013. Rather than simply abandoning Pompey, they came together, many making personal sacrifices, to stabilise the club and ensure its very existence. Our next home game against Accrington on Saturday, April 22 will see us celebrate ‘community ownership day’ and pay tribute to all those who led the club to a more secure place, providing an opportunity to celebrate 125 years – and more. It promises to be another special occasion.
As part of our support for the Kick It Out programme, we are delighted to be welcoming 20 members of the Gambian community to Fratton Park this afternoon. This comes after the club and Pompey in the Community helped provide links with the Hampshire FA to support their project of forming and registering their own team. We hope they all enjoy their visit.
Thank you for your support today and we look forward to seeing many of you on the road at our next two away games in Shrewsbury and Oxford.
Enjoy the game and PUP!