The Cross Word: Pompey is OURS- all of ours

Picture: Joe Pepler
Picture: Joe Pepler

We all want Fratton Park to be intimidating.

But racism, sexism and homophobia has nothing to do with the grand, old lady being a bearpit.

How gladdening Pompey fans in 2015 are prepared to make a stand against those ills of modern life.

And how gladdening Pompey 
fans in 2015 are prepared to make 
a stand against those ills of modern life.

Incidents this season have brought the kind of things the Blues have no interest in being associated with into sharp focus.

FA and police investigations have arisen after alleged incidents of a racist nature against Barnet and Reading.

It’s the stuff of nightmares for a PR man.

But Pompey’s PR man now also happens to be their new head of safeguarding and inclusion.

And that makes it a challenge Colin Farmery is prepared to tackle head on in the club’s name.

It also underlines how such a position cannot be the exercise in box-ticking many would associate it with.

That reality would have been felt in Fratton Park’s corridors of power over the past five weeks.

Farmery, a well-known Blues fans and Pompey Supporters’ Trust player, is getting stuck into the role and its labyrinth strands.

And he needs the united front of the Fratton Faithful to make it a success.

‘If we want to be the club we want to be we need the help of our supporters,’ said Farmery, on the prospect of tackling discrimination.

‘We don’t tolerate it. It’s a zero-tolerance approach.

‘As we’ve seen with the incidents which have taken place recently, there are consequences.

‘We want that culture where supporters don’t accept that.

‘It’s only when fans stand up and say “not in my name”, we can take positive action.’

That’s exactly what happened in the case of the person who was alleged to have hurled racist abuse at a Barnet player.

We’ve all been there before. You’re at a game and the person next to you is indulging in the kind of conduct no one appreciates.

The reactions, rightly or wrongly, have tended to vary between a disagreeable shake of the head to shuffling uncomfortably and not making eye contact in the past.

But not anymore.

The Barnet incident arose 
because a supporter wasn’t prepared to accept what they believed they’d heard.

Their disapproval was voiced to a steward and was backed with a police statement. The incident is now their hands.

In the modern age, that’s not the only way of making your voice heard.

A matchday hotline and Kick it Out reporting app offer alternative routes for those who don’t wish to approach club staff.

So, out of some negative headlines Pompey have been able to draw positivity.

To think of the days as child I watched a banana land at John Barnes’ feet from a corner and no-one batted an eyelid.

Twenty eight years on Fratton Park is a very different place but also the same.

It’s the same vibrant, intimidating hot-house we all love.

But it can be that while being inclusive to all the sections of society represented in the city the Blues represent.

That will be celebrated this weekend against Yeovil – a match chosen to highlight the FA’s Respect programme.

Fratton Fever, Pompey’s new lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group, will be making their first appearance at the game.

And the club continue to be a southern trailblazer for disabled supporters after last week holding a regional forum.

Minds are focused on being the club we want it be in 2015.

As the famous Fratton End picture decries, Pompey is OURS – all of ours.