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Pompey-Oxford memories: When Rafferty ruled - and TVS were there to see it
Thursday, 2nd Jul 2020 21:36 by Steve Bone

In the run-up to Friday evening's play-off semi-final first leg, I've been delving into past programme columns of mine that recall some of the many clashes between Pompey and Oxford.

In this one, which appeared in the Blues-Oxford programme in January 2016, I recalled my own first glimpse of the men in yellow at Fratton - an occasion captured by the TVS cameras.

SOMETIMES I sit down to write this column and haven’t a clue what I’m going to put in it. What do you mean, you can tell?

Anyway, that will never be a problem for a programme being produced for a match against Oxford – because there is so much to say about past goings-on between the clubs.

We’ve shared players and managers (not to the extent that any have served both at the same time, I hasten to add); we’ve each tasted glorious victories and cruel defeats at the hands of the other.

I realised in the lead-up to this game this is the only fixture I’ve seen Pompey play in all four divisions. I chalked off three of those in my first seven seasons of being a Pompey fan as we did battle in divisions three, two and then one.

But then we had to wait almost three decades to see a fourth-tier tussle between the teams, another of which we have before us today.

One of those early-in-my-time encounters comes strongly to mind today as it was a crucial promotion game on this very same weekend 33 years ago when a fine goal by Billy Rafferty earned Bobby Campbell’s team the points on a soggy Fratton afternoon.

I must admit it’s clearer in the memory than it might otherwise be because footage of the goal can be found on Youtube, the match having been selected for TVS highlights coverage. Gerald Sinstadt can be heard describing Rafferty taking a sideways pass from Neil Webb in his stride and surging past two defenders and almost past the keeper before smashing in the winner.

Being 1982-83 I would then have gone home before going to Fratton, with my dad, on bike and ferry, no doubt getting drenched in the process. I was 13 at the time and cannot explain why I can remember so much detail of that day yet would struggle to recall as much about the day when Oxford were in town last February. A sign of getting old, probably.

Anyhow, to maximise our chances of winning today* I have travelled to Fratton by a similar route (or at least had planned at the time of writing this) - stopping short of getting on my bike (the only adult bicycle on our premises last saw action in 2005 and wouldn’t get me to the end of our road, let alone the end of Frogmore Road) but taking the bus, ferry and train to get to the game

Given that was also the tranpsort combination I used throughout the 2002-03 Championship-winning campaign, I fail to see how anything can go wrong, either today or for the rest of the season.

We also played Oxford at this same time of year in our season in division one, 1987-88, and had goals from Kevin Ball and Mick Quinn to thank for helping us to a 2-2 draw. Lee Darby was unveiled in midfield that day amid thoughts he could be ‘the new Mick Kennedy’, which , it turned out, he wasn’t.

It all goes to show that however high we fly or low we sink over the next 10, 20 or 30 years, you can rest assured a game against Oxford will be just around the corner. And I must admit I find that quite comforting.

* Note added in 2020: We lost the Jan 2016 game 1-0.


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