H.M.S Groundhopping sets sail again!…. United Services Portsmouth v Downton FC

Boy am I happy to be back on my laptop writing this blog!

Yesterday was finally the day where my 2020/21 season kicked off, and to celebrate the new season I decided to tick a ground that I have been looking at doing for a while… The Victory Stadium, home of United Services Portsmouth.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that there is only one club in Portsmouth, but you’d be wrong…

Founded in 1962 (as Portsmouth Royal Navy) US Portsmouth play just around the corner from Gunwharf Quays, with Spinnaker Tower and The H.M.S Victory in full sight of their ground, for me it really is the club of Portsmouth!

Anyway, our journey started in Surbiton, and after travelling down the majority of the A3, we made it to Portsmouth in pretty good time despite the usual Saturday afternoon traffic. It soon became clear that the day was a perfect one for football, sunny and cool, with no chance of rain.

We made it to The Victory Stadium about ten minutes before kick off, but we had a real problem finding where to actually get in, which led to us walking all the way around the complex, before we actually realised that the entrance was actually where we had just came from…

Our seats for the afternoon

We missed the first five minutes, but at least we had walked off our KFC that we had just tucked into!

We were greeted by some very friendly people at the entrance who took us through the new Covid protocol, and it was the first time I have had my temperature taken at a football ground…

It has been 18 months since I last saw a 0-0 draw, and goals have followed me around ever since, so obviously there was a goal pretty much as soon as we rocked up. US Portsmouth were given a pretty clear cut penalty, which was converted with aplomb.

The home side made it 2-0 shortly after as they profited from what can only be described as some pretty shoddy goalkeeping. He tried to usher the ball out of play instead of just picking it up, and US Portsmouth’s number nine (Andy Todd) won back the ball and calmly slotted it in from a tight angle.

The home side were absolutely bossing the game, and they actually played some lovely football, and I was actually shocked to hear that this was a game in the 10th tier as it really had an excellent tempo.

Downton struggled for a while but were given a route back into the game with an absolutely wonderful goal. TJ Moseley received the ball, turned quickly, made just enough room for himself with the drop of a shoulder and rifled the ball into the bottom corner. It reminded me of Prime Aguero!

The game was nicely poised at Half Time, and we had been treated to a really entertaining half of football, but it was about to get better…

Lovely ground!

Downton started the second half the better of the two sides, but the game then changed in one swift incident, once again involving the away sides’ goalkeeper. He came rushing out to once again usher the ball out for a throw in, but he touched it meaning it was US Portsmouth’s throw in.

In an obvious attempt to slow play down he held onto the ball, which led to a coming together between the two players, and Downton’s number one eventually launched the ball at his counterpart in a rather aggressive manor.

I think its fair to say the player on the receiving end certainly made the most of it, but you are always putting yourself in trouble if you actually throw the ball at someone. It was pretty funny to watch though, as the reaction from the US Portsmouth man did remind me a bit of Rivaldo in the 2002 World Cup against Turkey (see below) but to be fair i’d have done the same to get my side an advantage in a game of such tight margins.

It should also be noted that it was definitely a red card offence regardless of the reaction…

After this, US Portsmouth were bound to pick Downton off, which they did, scoring a further three goals in the last quarter of the game. So in the end it was a comfortable win for the home side, but had Downton not gone down to ten men then i’m sure we would’ve had a pulsating finale on our hands.

And so the final whistle brought an action packed six goal thriller to an end, and an excellent first game of the season for me.

I was really really impressed with everything about US Portsmouth, we got a friendly greeting, their stand is excellent for that level and the team plays an expansive style of football that was really fun to watch. I would really recommend the tick!

We managed to find our way out and back with ease, bringing the curtain down on another season opener.

I sincerely hope this will be a full season of groundhopping, but who knows in this world we live in at the moment…

  • GROUND: The Victory Stadium
  • GAME: United Services Portsmouth 5-1 Downton FC
  • COMPETITION: Wessex League Division One
  • WOULD I GO BACK: I’d recommend a visit!
  • HOPPER: George


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