Fratton Park the most troubled ground in football? Portsmouth’s home is a proud bearpit not a threat
It was a bygone era, a period when the experience of attending a football match was not what it is today across the country.
Trouble at games was a common occurrence, a shiner a badge of honour from a trip on the road in some quarters.
But this was all a very long time ago.
Even back then, however, even in the 80s Thatcher era when the football fan was treated with contempt and caged behind fences, Fratton Park never felt an unsafe place.
In 35 years of making the pilgrimage to the grand, old girl as a child, young adult and Pompey writer I’ve never sensed a threat or felt fear.
Which makes the report branding the Blues’ home the most troubled in English football a little jarring.
The report, commissioned by betting site Odds-Comparison.com, yesterday concluded the Blues’ home experienced the most reported crimes of any ground in England.
The feeling is that statement is not one echoed by those who regularly visit PO4 on a matchday.
So perhaps it’s worth scratching a little deeper on how that label was reached by those who carried out the work.
As stated when The News outlined the reports findings, it tallies football-related crimes and general crimes within the vicinity of the stadium since the 2014-15 season.
A formula was then followed to weight the findings evenly between smaller and larger stadiums, before arriving at a final average score.
That approach saw Fratton Park topping the table, comprising 197 football-related crimes and 5,546 general crimes.
The immediate thought here was that would weight the findings towards grounds in urban areas.
And with Pompey’s home smack bang in the middle of the second most-densely populated city in the country with houses on two sides and a supermarket behind a third, these were other significant considerations.
Clearly the report was trying to find a way to factor in incidents we saw at the Stade de France last month, as locals attacked Real Madrid and Liverpool fans in the Champions League final. But such methodology arrives with its flaws.
Of course, there will be those who use the report’s findings as a badge of honour, the Green Street-glamour afforded football violence is still there.
But with so much being done to make Fratton a home fit for a 21st century family football experience, it’s also undermining the hard work being carried out on that front.
The Hampshire Police Football Unit feel the Pompey fans’ behaviour in recent seasons has been largely impressive, with a fine relationship with the police.
Fratton Park rightly has a standing throughout the football world as one of the most intimidating places for teams to visit. It’s an old school, bearpit with a raucous atmosphere few of its peers can match.
It’s a status Pompey fans can rightly be proud of for creating. But a place for football supporters to fear for their safety? That’s just not the case.