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To Bari and back

Bari Match


Each week the Pompey History Society takes a delve into the club’s archive and pulls out a document or artefact and tells the story behind it. This week features an itinerary from Pompey’s first foray into foreign soil for competitive action... 

Excellent! What a night that was in Guimaraes...
Aha! Not so fast. Pompey first made it into ‘Europe’ having qualified by dint of their ninth-placed finish in the old second division in 1991-92 to play in the Anglo-Italian Cup, a recently revived competition, originally played for in the early 1970s. The FA Premier League had just been formed, so it was thought some clubs in the ‘new’ division one would appreciate a bit of spice in the fixture list, by playing their counterparts in the Italian Serie B. The irony was we had to pre-qualify for the international section, so technically our first game in Europe was at Upton Park, West Ham’s ground, where we beat the then homeless Charlton 3-1. A draw at home to Millwall saw us through, where we would face Cesena and Lucchese at home and Bari and Ascoli away in a group format.

I’d forgotten about that! What’s the itinerary for?
It’s for the official club supporter trip to Bari, situated approximately on the Achilles heel of the Italian boot. Tuesday November 24, 1992 was the day and it involved an epic coach and charter flight combination over a 22-hour period. Pompey had already played Cesena at Fratton Park and beaten them 2-0 a fortnight beforehand.

View Bari Itinery

Not for the faint-hearted then. Take us through the day...
Coaches picked up fans from Goldsmith Avenue and then Cosham Post Office at 8.00am and then the charter flight departed Gatwick at 11am, arriving just before 3pm local time ahead of an 8.30pm kick off.

Plenty of time for some sightseeing then?
If only. Italian police were out in force and fan movement was restricted to just a small square in the historic town. Then it was back on the bus to the Stadio San Nicola, an iconic 60,000 capacity ground built for the 1990 World Cup. The 200-odd Pompey fans and 600-odd Bari fans rattled around in the stadium somewhat. The competition wasn’t a crowd-puller.

Was the journey worth it?
If you were after sightseeing or a good result, possibly not. Pompey lost 3-0, conceding three first half goals, then it was back on the bus and off to the airport for a flight at 12.30am to be back in Portsmouth just in time to get up for work on Wednesday. Perfect for a water-cooler conversation about what I did yesterday though....

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Thanks to Chris Gibbs from the Pompey History Society for his help in compiling this article. Picture by Colin Farmery.

Previously produced in the Swindon Matchday programme February 2021

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