After much self-indulgence in recent weeks we have returned to making Doncaster Rovers’ upcoming opponents the subject of our long-running Viva Video feature. I was surprised this week to read that prior to their relegation in May Portsmouth had been a Premier League club for seven seasons, I would have thought it around four at most. There are certain clubs you associate with certain tiers in the football league, a condition for which I blame a junior fascination with Shoot magazine’s League Ladders in the early 1990s, and in my mind Portsmouth are always of the second tier. They were there when they reached the FA Cup semi-final in 1992, and they were there for this week’s Viva Video clip from the following season, when they travelled to face Oxford United.
One of the criticisms of modern football stadia is that they are all pretty much of the same model. One concrete bowl looks very much like the next concrete bowl, divided into sections or portions rather than stands. Of course it wasn’t always this way and of all football grounds in the late 1980s and early 1990s Oxford United’s Manor Ground was arguably the most far removed from the stadiums of today. A collection of nine assorted stands and terraces, each one different from the next it resembled the build-it-out-of anything-to-hand approach of sheds on an allotment rather more than it did a top flight sports arena.
In this week’s Viva Video clip we get ample opportunity to take in the architectural trolley dash that was the Manor Ground as no less than ten goals hit the back of its nets. Amongst the scorers is future Rovers player and manager Dave Penney, lashing in the home side’s first goal from the closest I think I’ve ever seen him to the opposition net. The real star of this video though is not the football, nor the fans, but the man doing the voiceover. Gleefully ignoring the fact that this match was played on the 3rd November rather than the 5th no Guy Fawkes Night pun is left unlit by our heroic commentator; Portsmouth’s Guy Whittingham must have hated this time of year.