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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

United Services Portsmouth 3 Hamble Club 1 (aet)

Wessex League Cup 1st Round
Victory Stadium, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth

Having thought that I was done in Hampshire for the time being my client had other ideas and so I find myself back on the south-coast for another month. And tonight, rather than watching Ipswich take on Southampton in the Coca-Cola Championship at Portman Road, ironically/irritatingly I find myself 180 miles away and not far from the Saint’s home at St Mary’s.

A quick scan of available games to watch down here throws up the match between United Services Portsmouth (Division Two) and Hamble Club (Division Three) in the Wessex League Cup 1st Round. United Services play at the Victory Stadium in central Portsmouth. Close to the Historic Dockyard - home of many a famous ship, including of course Nelson’s HMS Victory - entry to the ground is via the HMS Temeraire complex on Burnaby Road about a ten-minute walk from Portsmouth Harbour Station.

HMS Temeraire is the home of the RN’s School of Physical Training and Recreation and, interestingly (possibly), follows a distinguished line of naval ships and establishments to have bourn the name. Perhaps best known as the subject of Turner’s classic painting ‘The Fighting Temeraire’, the first Temeraire was actually a French ship captured by the British at Lagos in 1759. It then saw action for the RN at Belle Isle in 1761, and at Martinique and Havannah in 1762.

The second Temeraire was involved at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, assisting Admiral Nelson and HMS Victory, then featuring in the aforementioned Turner before being broken up in 1838. An 8540-ton battleship built at Chatham in 1876 was the next vessel to pick up the name, serving in Hornbey’s passage of the Dardanelles in 1878, featuring in the bombardment of Alexandria in 1882, and later landing a naval force for action at Khartoum. The last ship to carry the moniker was an 18,600-ton battleship built at the beginning of the last century, which saw service at the Battle of Jutland in 1916. But enough of the history lesson.

In the shadow of the much mocked and maligned Portsmouth Spinnaker (personally I think it looks the business and is a fitting design for an area which has had such an important role to play in Britain’s maritime history), the Victory Stadium, which, coincidentally, is featured in the latest edition of Groundtastic, is within spitting distance of Premiership Portsmouth’s Fratton Park, a stadium for which I can think of nothing positive to say at all. If you’ve sat in the away end in the rain for ninety minutes, or had to shield a 10-year old son from the flaying fists of some Pompey half-wits, you’ll know were I’m coming from. However, the Victory Stadium, is well maintained and well appointed - as you would expect of a military facility - and with lights that put to shame those used by many League One and League Two sides, or for that matter some used by clubs in the Championship.

The playing surface is encircled by an athletics track, which in turn is bordered by uncovered hard standing and some rather attractive deciduous trees. The aforementioned floodlight pylons are eight in number while covered seating is available in an impressive grandstand along one of the touchlines, and managers, coaches and subs, etc can take cover in two movable Perspex ‘dugouts’.

According to tonight’s programme notes the record attendance for a United Services Portsmouth match was 80 for the visit a number of years ago by neighbouring Gosport Borough. A quick count puts this evening’s attendance at around the 25 mark all rattling around in what must be one of the largest grandstands in the Wessex League having as it does a seating capacity of 430.

Portsmouth Royal Navy FC until renamed to United Services Portsmouth just last year was originally formed forty-three years ago in 1962. The change of name also marked the opening up of the side to players from all of the armed services as well as civilians, which seems to have instantly reaped dividends as promotion to Division Two of the Sydenham’s sponsored Wessex League was won last May.

As for the action itself the first half was largely incident free but the restart was marked by a flurry of activity that looked to have decided the game. Hamble hit the post on 47, and a poorly taken free-kick by the visitors was quickly cleared up field a minute later to one of United Services Portsmouth strike force who rounded the Hamble ‘keeper and fired home into the unguarded net.

And that looked to be it until two minutes from the end when another harmless looking Hamble free-kick was deflected into the top corner of the United Services Portsmouth goal by one of their defenders. The visitors then had two further decent chances to pull of a surprise late win but spurned them both before the referee blew for time.

Hamble’s joy at forcing extra time was, however, short lived as United Services Portsmouth hit two quick goals in the early minutes of the first period of extra time. The second an odd affair that saw a free-kick from the edge of the ‘D’ bobble across the box before glancing off a Hamble player and trickling into the bottom left-hand corner of the net.

Match: 19 (2005/06) 1,263 (Lifetime)

posted by chevblue at 11:31 pm






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extreme groundhopping

a (mainly) pictorial account of one man's obsession with football stadia, floodlight pylon's and ipswich town football club

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