Are You Not Entertained?
Is League One football really that bad to watch?
On Saturday, the hardy Pompey fans will make the long journey to Hartlepool to watch what will probably be a poor game of football.
The rock bottom side in the division plays host to a team only three places above them in a spectacle that is likely to contain many misplaced passes, plenty of mistimed challenges and the ball is bound to spend a fair chunk of time in the air.
It makes me wonder why some of us, myself included, even bother to go to watch a game of football in this division which has seen little excitement and more attrition than the Cold War.
Think of the Portsmouth matches you have been to this season. How many times have you walked away from Fratton Park or one of the "characteristic" chapels of the third tier of English football with a sense of fulfillment?
I can count the occasions on one hand. The league opener with Bournemouth ended with optimism as a new Pompey team played some good attacking football and that was followed by another impressive showing at Colchester.
Since then, however, the entertainment has been even more sparse than the positive results Pompey have earned more by dogged hard work than any real show of quality.
The only other match this season I can think of that dared to get my pulses racing was the 2-2 draw at stadium:mk as Pompey held on for a draw having dominated the first half having played some relentless attacking football only to withstand an onslaught in the second thanks to some sturdy and occasional last-ditch defending.
That game aside, I am struggling to remember any other occasion where watching my team has made me feel like I was getting my money's worth, even on the rare occasions when Pompey have won.
Perhaps I am acting like a spoilt brat who doesn't know the truly bad times. The older generation tell me tales of such legendary players as Colin Blant back in the dark days, a centre back which would have made Carl Tiler look like Carles Puyol in comparison.
I admit that when hearing of the Europa League draw earlier today I thought to myself "we were in that competition four years ago!" and then took a step back to remember how far the club has fallen in a short space of time.
This current Portsmouth side is constructed with mercenaries itching to leave in January, mixed in with inexperienced youth and short-term loans. When you look at the situation like that, it is easy to accuse me of being a squinny when claiming that Pompey are disjointed and boring.
However, my problem doesn't just lie with my own team. A fortnight ago I travelled to Merseyside to watch the supposed best team in this division and yet Ronnie Moore's Tranmere were the culprits of some of the most unwatchable hoofball you'll see all season.
Pompey were also guilty of this but when the top team in the league resorts to such turgid tactics it virtually sums up the quality of this division. Remember how Oldham kicked and fouled their way to victory at Fratton Park back in August?
How many opposition teams have you been impressed with this season? MK Dons play some attractive passing football whilst I was surprised by how good Walsall and Swindon were when they came to Fratton but that's about it.
This division is of very poor quality and struggles for entertainment value. It's difficult to get into games when the football fails to grip the audience and I can't be the only one to have noticed how much the atmosphere at Fratton Park has dwindled this season.
In fact, I sat in the North Stand last Saturday almost bored out of my mind as a pass went straight to a Preston shirt and then their attempt to attack the Pompey defence saw the ball sail out for a harmless throw in.
In fact, I enjoyed myself more when catching up with old faces inside the Rifle Club pre-game than the actual game itself and I know some fans who will turn up to pubs on matchday and then not even bother to go and watch the team.
Last weekend, I wasn't the only one sat there getting bored and I've heard many qualms about the quality of football from others who regularly attend Pompey games. But if we are that disheartened and disgruntled with the team then why do we continue to go?
Some will go out of pure loyalty to their team. To support their team through thick and thin. Others will go in the hope that the game they see will be the game where Pompey finally "turn it on" and get the season back on track. They never lose hope.
Personally, the reason I go is a mixture of those two reasons. I still harbour a small hope that Pompey can find a way out of trouble this season although that hope is dwindling fast, whilst I also feel the need to watch Pompey at new places around the country that I am yet to visit.
However, with the price of football ever increasing along with the cost of living there will be a time where even the most loyal fans will have to ask themselves "is it worth it?"
Because whilst Portsmouth continues to play poor football in a league that is mediocre at best for entertainment, the interest levels will continue to drop, the crowds will continue to dwindle and the fans will simply have had enough.
Source: Fratton Faithful
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