Pompey's pain will forever remain '“ but this city will never quit
For all Pompey fans, the agony didn't subside at the end of stoppage-time.
The dull pain was there when they woke up this morning, it will remain during every torturous moment of watching other play-off fixtures.
In that Home Park aftermath, raw words sparked social media punch-ups during the eye of the storm, such was the devastation.
Some of those travelling ended up stranded for 40 minutes on the return journey after their coach had ground to an untimely halt.
As the evening became the early hours, the anguish refused to abate.
Meanwhile, for those Pompey players and management who had steered the club to the play-offs, tears were shed among some in the dressing room confines.
A city this morning opened its eyes – and the nightmare was still unpalatably real.
Following a season which spanned 282 days, the Blues were back where they started in League Two terms.
Granted, lessons have been learned and Paul Cook has assembled a firm foundation of a youthful squad to launch again next season.
Yet August will be season number four in the bottom division of the Football League.
Every campaign has kicked off with Pompey installed by bookies as the favourites for the title, sometimes ludicrously.
They still remain, glaring onlookers as others stage joyous pitch invasions and participate in open-topped bus events.
Guards of honour are entirely respectful, but hurt that touch more when staged at Fratton Park.
Let’s not forget, though, supporters of the Blues are used to torment and torture – and on every single occasion have overcome to rise again.
The mourning will continue in private for many weeks, months, even years, as the subject of Ian Ormondroyd will testify 23 years on.
Yet, publicly, the Fratton faithful will clamber to their feet, renew season tickets and set about a new season with a cheerful whistle and continued hope and belief.
As they have demonstrated by uniting to save their club and fighting off the people who contributed to driving it to the brink of liquidation, Pompey fans are not quitters,
No white towels were thrown onto the Home Park pitch once Peter Hartley had bundled home the ball in stoppage-time.
Some may threaten to never return, but they will be back, no question about that.
Sunday night’s squeamish outcome will never be forgotten, it is as ingrained in the club’s history as Balram Chainrai, Ormondroyd and Roger Milford, Ronnie Whelan and Jamille Matt.
They are all there, written in indelible ink, impossible to scrub away with even the most rigorous of elbow grease applied.
They are the past – a path ahead can still be glimpsed.
And Pompey’s fans once more will be on the move, refusing to surrender in the bleakest of hours.