We could, if we lived in a vacuum in which we only communicated with the mass media, be forgiven for thinking that football is all about the winning, the glory and the silverware at the end of the season. For a good many football supporters, however, whole seasons can pass by without a hint of anything exciting happening whatsoever. So it was, then, that Portsmouth spent the 1989/90 season in the Second Division, barely troubling the top or the bottom of the table. Indeed, their end of season record hinted at an entire campaign of mists and mellow fruitlessness, although their supporters could be forgiven for being quietly pleased for an improvement on the previous season, when they finished just two places – albeit with a comfortable nine point cushion – above the relegation places and for the fact that they had overcome the worst of financial difficulties which had, not for the first time and certainly not for the last, threatened the existence of the club.
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Where, you may well be wondering, is this going? Well, sometimes, footballing tropes collide with such force that we cannot help but enjoy the moment. The season of very little happening – and you can usually spot the supporters of such clubs at the end of the season, exuding a zen-like calm coupled with absolute bafflement as to why so many other people start getting so hot-headed at about the end of April – has been rendered that much less common by play-offs. Another end of season tradition, though, that of the end of season video, lives on. There are still clubs that throw together a compilation of highlights, record it onto a DVD, give it an optimistic name and hope that there will be people who want to relive the season’s successes.
This practice has been going on since video recording technology has been cheap enough for non-professionals to buy, and the Club Video has become part of the staple of the mildly obsessive football fan ever since. We are, therefore, indebted beyond belief to the individual that took the time to upload “The Official Portsmouth End Of Season Video 1989/90” (to give it its full, catchy title) for the viewing delectation of the internet. Somewhere within this video – which runs to forty-five minutes – gets close to the essence of what football, when most of the glitz and glamour is stripped away, is all about. Sit back, enjoy it, and remember that we may never enjoy such innocence again.
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