Lower Life: Jan the third, 88, hallelujah!

barry_horne-against saints 1988
barry_horne-against saints 1988

I’m never one to need an excuse to talk about Pompey in the past tense, writes Steve Bone.

But when the present tense concerns a 5-0 defeat at Swindon and a run that now threatens to be Pompey’s worst since I was five or six years old, it just has to be time to delve into the distant but not-so-dim past once more.

And today happens to be the ideal day to do just that – for it is, can you believe, the 25th anniversary of one of the great results of Pompey’s modern (if you can still call it that) era.

Jan the third, 88, halleluuuuu-jah; Jan the third, 88, halleluuu-uu-jah, they used to sing. It was a date so entrenched in Pompey folklore that a few years later, when I started editing a Blues fanzine, I called it Jan 3, ’88.

Didn’t half confuse the bank on the rare occasions someone wrote us a cheque for some back copies.

Yes, it really is a quarter of a century since that Sunday lunchtime at The Dell. Barry Horne, Terry Connor... Southampton 0 Pompey 2. Glory.

And yet, despite it being one of the most fondly-remembered Pompey games of the past 30 or 40 years, I have to admit I can remember very little about it.

It was Pompey’s first visit to The Dell since 1975 and the police were on the ‘very cautious’ side of cautious in switching it to a Sunday lunchtime kick-off.

Southampton didn’t let Pompey have too many tickets – they knew we’d outsing them however few they gave us and didn’t want to be shown up too much – and the stewarding was, as you can imagine, pretty over-the-top.

The game itself is a bit of a blur.

Both the goals came in the first half – if you hunt high and low on You Tube you can find some fairly ropey footage of both – and I don’t recall the hosts ever threatening much of a comeback, though knowing Pompey, they would never have seen out a famous away win without one or two self-inflicted scares.

At the end of the match, we were kept in until the locals had trudged home and I remember it feeling a little flat and maybe a bit quiet – not like we had just become kings of the south coast again.

Maybe the game needs placing in context: it was in the middle of a season of struggle in the old first division and came 24 hours before one of our terrace heroes, Mick Kennedy, was sold to Bradford.

When that happened, the despair, and the feeling we had just surrendered any hope of staying in the top flight, was as intense as the joy felt when Horne and Connor struck at The Dell.

We never won there again, although have had a couple of delightful days out at its replacement, the Identikit Arena.

So for old time’s sake today, altogether: Jan the third, 88, halleluuuuu-jah...

Read Steve Bone’s Lower Life column in The News every Thursday.

Email stevebonepfc@googlemail.com or tweet @stevebone1