Pompey-Oxford memories: We had so many disasters at the Manor Ground - yet I loved the place
Tuesday, 30th Jun 2020 20:34 by Steve Bone
In the run-up to Pompey's play-off meetings with Oxford, I have delved into the vaults and dug out a couple of programme columns relevant to past meetings with our old rivals. In this one, from the Pompey-Oxford programme in 2014-15, I recall trips to the Manor Ground. Comments / memories welcome at @stevebone1 on Twitter or firstname.lastname@example.org on email... (with thanks to Paul Groundtastic - https://twitter.com/paul_gtastic - for the picture
As more and more clubs play in new stadiums (although, is it me or has the rate at which teams are moving home slowed right down?), so an increasing number of old grounds we knew and loved are becoming no more than distant memories.
So which ones do you miss most? I ask this today because Oxford are in town and for reasons I can't quite explain, I quite miss the Manor Ground. There, I've said it. I miss it.
By my reckoning, I saw Pompey play there 10 times between 1986 and 1998 and I saw us win only once (and that was in the League Cup so it's more like 0.75 of a win).
Other experiences there included problems getting in, terrible views, goals conceded in the first minute, abject Pompey performances, three three-goal leads chucked away in one evening, red cards, late goals conceded and problems getting out.
The one surprise is that the time a supporters' coach broke down on the A34 on the way home from one of our evening games there, I wasn't on it.
Yet despite all that, if the Manor Ground were still standing and Oxford were to move back, I'd be there like a shot next time we played there.
Like a lot of the old grounds no longer with us (the Manor, did you know, by the way, is now a private hospital) the place had character and charm.
I can't comment in too much detail on United's present-day home, the Kassam, because I've never been, but from what I know of it, it doesn't have much of either – which is not a criticism of the club nor the ground's designers, more a comment on the way that new football stadiums are built simply to be functional.
You could never really call the Manor Ground functional. It had seven stands, for starters, in its lovely setting in the middle of some of Oxford's leafiest lanes.
My first visit was probably my worst as Pompey failed to turn up for a League Cup quarter-final – letting in a goal in the first couple of minutes while I was still trying to work my way into a position on the Cuckoo Lane terrace which might have offered a glimpse of as much as 10 per cent of the pitch.
Perhaps I, and many others like me, should have taken the hint that the Manor was never going to be the happiest hunting ground in that PFC era. But no, back we flocked to see a losing start to our old-first-division campaign and many other painful defeats.
Of course, it was a draw that was the most painful – 5-5. 5-5! After being 3-0, 4-1 and 5-2 up, at that. No Pompey fan present for that 1992 farce will ever forget it, or stop blaming it for the fact we missed promotion to the newly-formed Premier League the following May.
Am I alone among Pompey fans in having this perverse fondness for the Manor Ground? Probably, but don't judge me – instead, tell me which of the old grounds you most miss. Roker Park, Ayresome, the Baseball Ground, Stoke's Victoria Ground? The lost list is long.
In the meantime, if you're still suffering mentally from Pompey's misery at the Manor, let me share this with you.
In Oxford's last game there, against Port Vale, they took the lead in the 82nd minute and looked set to bid it farewell in style. Vale equalised in the last minute.