As per my previous article I was at the FA Cup Final which I consider a real honour, however this article is more about the relationship between opposition supporters and the real lack of animosity I experienced during the whole day.
Firstly I want to pay tribute to the excellent Portsmouth support at Wembley, before, during and after the game, which whilst slightly circumstance related, the sheer passion of the fans cannot be underestimated.
Before the game the Portsmouth fans were in high spirits, getting to Wembley early to savour the atmosphere in full regalia, faces painted and flags waving. During the game the Portsmouth fans were united in singing their anthem ‘play up pompey’ and filling the stadium with noise and vigour.
After the final whistle, the loss did not deter them, and it was difficult to discern which team had actually won the game. Any other team would have seen their fans vacate the stadium, not Portsmouth who stayed and seemed genuinely unconcerned by the final result.
The Portsmouth fans stayed for the presentations to both sides, to show respect and show their support to their fallen club.
After the game I took the walk towards the tube home, with my Chelsea family, encountering Portsmouth fans on the way who invariably shared handshakes and smiles with their victors.
On the tube however things changed, fully decked out in Chelsea shirts we were encountered by a group of 5-10 Portsmouth fans who greeted us with a few chants. Moments later we reposted to their chants, which then turned into a proper battle between the two sets of fans to outdo each other.
I heard songs that I had not heard in years from Chelsea and new songs from the Portsmouth fans, as the train neared its destination we parted ways, after a proper chat involving mutual messages of goodwill and an exchange of flags and scarves to forever mark a day that neither set of fans will forget.
This exchange reminded me, that despite the bad press and negative perception football can be an amazing sport, where people with no other common link unite and share a common goal. On the long journeys to watch my club play, it is the experiences on my travels that make it truly worthwhile whichever club they support.
Just for the record, it’s not always hooliganism and hate, sometimes we get on well enough to share a joke and a song!